Tuesday, December 29, 2009

23 years; 23 things that bring me joy:

(in no particular order...)

1. my children in India

2. sunrises & sunsets.

3. morning drives to work.

4. more than 7 hours of sleep.

5. my relationship with the Lord.

6. my job and the opportunities it gives me to love others well.

7. my best friend.

8. finding joy in reading and other simple things.

9. being organized.

10. laughter.

11. children.

12. my years at All Ages II.

13. my family.

14. real, honest, and vulnerable conversations.

15. learning and growing.

16. speaking truth and truth spoken.

17. seeing transformations taking place in people's lives.

18. daniel.

19. my years in college.

20. being able to share my heart for the lost, lonely, broken, unsaved, and hurting with others.

21. smiles.

22. having a superior memory.

23. life and all that is to come with it.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

as i sit in my living room on this Christmas Eve morning, basking in not having to go to work, sipping on a cup of coffee, and watching the pictures of my beautiful children in India scroll by on my computer screen, i've come to the conclusion that there really are no words to describe the array of emotions whirling around in my mind and heart.

reflecting on this past year there have been so many blessings, challenges, joys, and trials that have occurred in my life, and as i think back on all of them during this Christmas season i am overwhelmed with how sovereign, gracious, perfect, patient, loving, powerful, and holy my God is--the same God who started his life born in a stable, sleeping in a manger.

(perhaps this post is coming about a week early, and should have been a post for the new year...but no matter...)

these last twelve months have literally flown by. last year at this time, i was on Christmas break from school and knew i had a few more weeks of freedom after Christmas to just relax. i hadn't even started my internship, the place where i am now employed full time. while i knew graduation was imminent, it seemed far off in the distance; but it came quicker than anticipated. i had no idea what i was going to do with my life, where i was going to find a job, where i was going to be living, and i hated the unknown. but before i knew it, i was sitting on an airplane, flying halfway around the world to the country where a large part of my heart continues to remain. my time there proved to be life-changing once again, but it wasn't long enough. i can still feel the sting of the tears that formed in my eyes when i had to say "see you later" to the children and staff at the orphanage, because saying good-bye just wasn't an option. my sister's wedding soon followed my arrival back in the states, as did my best friend returning to my Alma matter. and soon after that, i began coaching my team of 8th grade girls in volleyball which allowed me to spend quality time with my beautiful cousin who is amazing at the sport that was so dear to my heart during my junior high and high school years. (and i don't just say that because she's my cousin either). and during volleyball season, i took on a full time position at the place i had my internship working with families and children; my dream job out of college. and the past three months is full of a myriad of activities that still consists of balancing time between working full time, spending time with friends and family, sleeping, and trying to learn how to take care of myself.

it seems like all the changes that took place over the last twelve months are almost too much to have happened in one year, but i have a feeling that it's only the beginning of being an adult. and even though a lot of the changes that took place were hard, i can't even begin to describe how much i have learned.

and as much as all of the changes just mentioned were mainly good, this year, like i said, didn't come without trials or challenges. after christmas and up until february 21st, i went through the process of knowing i was going to lose a man very near and dear to my heart. and as everyone who reads my blog is aware, my thattha passed away on february 21st. i miss him dearly still to this day, and am reminded at this Christmas season how much of an impact he has had on my life. and while graduation was the ending of a chapter in my life that had to be finished, leaving the place i had come to call home over the past four years also didn't come without tears. and there are so many other things that i have to had to learn from and work through--such as heart wrenching client stories, experiencing empathy on a different level, dealing with other people's jealousy, and the list could continue.

but i am thankful for the way the Lord protected me, loved me well, and held me tight when the tears wouldn't stop. and i am thankful He trusts me to handle the things he hands to me more than i trust myself.

what a blessing it has been to walk through this year with Him hand in hand, and to let him perfectly ordain my steps. and i am sure...that next year at this time, there will be just as many changes that have occurred in my life, and for that, i am grateful.

but, until then, be blessed and bless God. remember to keep Christ in Christmas, and to seek how you can fully make this Christmas a full worship experience.

Monday, December 14, 2009

it's always a good indication when i sigh heavily before clicking the "new entry" button for a new post that i'm overdue for a posting.

regardless. these past few weeks have continued to be filled with work, friends, family, boyfriend, and sleep where i can fit it in. i just managed to start my Christmas shopping on saturday and feel like my next three weekends are already overflowing with things that i am suppose to be at and with things i need to do, but somehow, it will all get done. it always does. not going to lie though, sometimes i wish i was about seven again around this Christmas season so that i could just bask in the Christmas traditions and the spirit of Christmas without the stress. i think i've just decided to make my goal this week to not stress out about anything in regards to Christmas--no stress about gifts, no stress about making time for all the get togethers, and no stress about money. and, i'm going to figure out how i can worship more fully during this too. (and this i part of the reason i blog, to process through things to come up with goals like that!)

also, over the past few weeks, i'd be lying if i said my heart didn't long for India. i think that around Christmastime every year will probably be harder than other times of the year, because i think everyone can relate to wanting to be with their families at Christmas and since the children, staff, and helen are considered my family, i want to be with them. i can't imagine a more perfect Christmas than to share that day with them; to be able to laugh with the children all day, to sing songs, to eat with them, and to know at the end of the day i've given them all they really want for Christmas...love. And that they, too, have given me all i really want for Christmas...love.

my heart has been leaping at the thought of going back to India this summer, even if it's just for a week to ten days. who knows if it's a possibility or if anything will come to fruition, but in the worst way, i want it to. i even am longing to feel sticky and sweaty after playing with the children on a hot day, to see the lizards on the wall, to eat with my fingers, to wear skirts, and so many other things. my passion for the hurt and lost and lonely overseas was rekindled over the last few weeks when i realized that i essentially had been supressing it since i know that now that is not where i am suppose to be. it seemed easier for the last few months to not think about how much my heart longs to be overseas...but as i've allowed myself to admit to other people how much i want to be overseas my joy has been restored. and as i've allowed myself to dream what it can look like in a few years, i can't wait for the Lord to reveal it to me. perhaps it might consist of living in huts in a village...who knows what God has in store. but it makes me smile to think about.

in the mean time, though, i'm going to continue striving to love on the hurt, lost, and lonely i come across each and every day in my job...and trust that this is just part of God's plan in my life story of expanding His Kingdom.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

every morning as i drive to work, i pass a church on the left hand side of the road right past an elementary school. i've read the faded sign a few times and from what i can recall it says "homeland mission". the reason this sticks out in my mind so vividly is not because the sign is faded or because the church is beautiful, in fact, the only side i see as i'm driving in is the backside, but what causes this to stick out to me is the line of people that are outside the doors every morning. i, obviously, haven't gotten a good look at any of their faces to know if they frequent there often, but i've noticed the numbers vary as well as the ages of the people. and as i drive past these people every morning, i think to myself, "what are these people's stories? why are they where they are?" and as i keep driving past, i often will utter a simple sentence or two prayer, "Lord, would you meet these people where they are at? be their comfort in whatever their situation may be." in all reality, i probably will never hear these people's stories...i will probably never hear why they are where they are, but i am thankful for the opportunity i've been given to pray for them as i drive past every morning, and i will continue to be thankful for it in all the days to come.

regardless, life continues flying by. i can hardly believe that thanksgiving is next week, and that means that christmas is right around the corner. it's also hard for me to believe that i've been working for almost two months now; i suppose that's a good thing, though, knowing that it's gone by so quickly and i still enjoy coming to work every day, even though i always wish i could sleep just a little bit more.

and as life continues flying by, change seems to continue to be the common theme. maybe not change so much, maybe adapting would be a better word to describe where i'm at in life?

i remember when i was in college and living by my day planner...it seemed that every hour of every day was scheduled, between classes, meetings, dinner, lunch, and coffee dates with friends, and everything else that fell in between. and, if i'm being completely honest, even though i was queen of making everything fit into a day, i had to learn what it meant to slow down and not make myself so busy. and that wasn't something i learned on my own, by any means, but something that many people would come to me and say, "you are doing too much, you can't do this, slow down, take care of yourself." sometimes i would laugh, other times i would get mad because i knew they were right, but no matter, i learned by the time i graduated what it looked like to be able to have things scheduled but still be able to be spontaneous.

and now that i am working full time, i kind of feel like i'm a freshman or sophomore in college again having to relearn what it looks like to balance time. And not only do i feel like i am having to relearn how to balance time but i feel like i'm having to relearn what it means to be spontaneous. i've said multiple times to my closest friends, "i feel stretched too thin..."

and it's not anyone's fault that i feel stretched too thin, it's a matter of the fact that i don't feel like there is enough time in one day to do all the things i want to do nor is there enough time in one day to do all the things i want to do. while my schedule with work is fairly flexible, the reality that i'm still working on average 8-9 hours a day remains. so, 8-9 hours at work, 1 hour commute (30 minutes each way), 1 hour to get ready in the morning, that alone right there takes up 10-11 hours. and then the next biggest part of my day would be sleeping which usually amounts to 7 hours. so 17-18 hours of my day is accounted for basically no matter what. and that leaves 6-7 hours a day...which may kind of seem like a lot, but i've come to learn very quickly that it isn't. 6-7 hours does not give me enough time for me to see all the friends i want to see, have the quality time i want to have with my parents, stay caught up with friends who don't live around here, spend time with the Lord, or really put the kind of effort i'm used to exerting on anything else. and i hate it.

you know the analogy about the jar and putting the rocks in first, and then the ping pong balls, and then the pebbles, and then the sand everything will fit in? well, i'm not entirely sure i believe that analogy as much anymore. at this point, i feel like the most important things have been put in my jar, and then the next most important things have come in after, and so on, but i feel like the sand still won't fit and it's over flowing. and i hate that feeling.

i hate the feeling that i have that i can't put more effort into my friendships and that people aren't getting the time they need or deserve, and i hate that i haven't been able to figure out how to fix it. i'm sure in time i'll figure it out or in time it will work itself out and it won't be as big of a deal as it is now, but it's just such an adjustment in the present moment.

and as i'm trying to figure all of THAT out, i feel like i'm also trying to figure out what it looks like to make sure God doesn't just get my leftovers, because that's so easy to do. it's so easy to crawl into bed at night and read my Bible because i feel obligated and to read it so i can check off my daily reading. but, that's not what reading my Bible is supposed to be about. reading my Bible is supposed to be about letting the Lord communicate with me through it and learning what it means to become more like my Savior. and how in the world is that supposed to happen when my goal is to just "get it done" so i can set my Bible back on my nightstand, turn off my light, send a few last minute text messages, and fall asleep? well it doesn't happen, i will be the first to attest to that...

needless to say, my eyes have been opened a lot in this past week of changes that need to be made, and it's not necessarily the easiest thing to do. worth it in the end? i believe so, absolutely. but for the time being, there are some bumps in the road that are making it difficult to see the light at the end of the tunnel.

life continues to amaze me, and i am so thankful for the journey i'm on and have been on. there's never a dull moment, but even if there was, i don't think i would be content with it. so for now, i'll continue to choose to find joy in the times that don't seem to be the most joyful, and i'll continue to try to discover what all the Lord is teaching me in the midst of the craziness occuring around me.

what a privilege it is to be His chosen and His beloved, even though He knows all of my imperfections, insecurities, and inadequacies...

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

change seems to be the theme of my life right now. it's not necessarily a bad thing, because i know that in and of itself change is inevitable, but change isn't always easy. at least i'm not the biggest fan of it.

let's see...besides not going back to school this august, there have been a plethora of other changes taking place. i started coaching 8th grade volleyball...i started working full time...i started going to bed earlier...i started drinking coffee every morning...i started to enjoy the drive from wabash to marion in the mornings...i even started appreciating seeing part of the sunrise...i started appreciating spontaneous outtings moreso than ever...i started understanding what it really means to live for the weekends...and did i mention i even started dating someone? (and he's pretty great :) ha.)

but some things haven't changed...most of the things being things i miss; i miss my indian family...i miss mornings in mcconn...i miss random late night chats with friends who just live down the hall...i miss lunch, coffee, and dinner dates...i miss covenant with my fellow RAs...i miss the community at iwu...i miss sleepovers...i miss chapel...i miss being in close proxemity each and every day to my best friend and the list could continue.

but i'm learning to love living in the real world. i truly am blessed beyond all measure. my full time job is actually at the place i had my internship second semester of my senior year at iwu; i came into the job familiar with the program and actually familiar with many of the clients. i work with an amazing group of people, and i rarely leave the office without having a story to share. some days are harder than others depending on the encounters of the day, but i've learned that there always seems to be some hope hidden somewhere in seemingly hopeless situations. and i'm sure that there are going to be many, many more lessons to learn like that in the days ahead.

regardless, now that the brief update on my life is complete, i've had a thought stirring around in my head for quite sometime now. and i'm not entirely sure where it came from or where i saw this at, but i definitely don't take credit for it. so here i go...

you know how when people sign cards, emails, or letters, "God Bless"? I've always thought that was a nice way to sign something when the person didn't know what else to say...maybe it was too formal to write "love" or maybe they wanted to prove the point that they were actually Christians, but awhile ago, i saw someone sign something "Bless God".

interesting concept, really.

as i sat there and pondered on it for awhile, i was though to myself, "hm, it's just like us being selfish humans to ask for God to bless us." and i don't necessarily think that it's always a bad thing, because i think God does want to bless us, but i think that sometimes we forget the importance of blessing God. going about our day, i think, we are often looking for the little blessings God brings acrossed our paths. like a beautiful sunrise, the leaves changing colors, a hug from a dear friend, etc. etc. but how often do we take the time to stop and think, "what can i do to bless God today? what can i do to be a blessing to others for God today; to show others his love and to be his hands and feet?"

so as i end this, i'm going to go ahead and end it with the words that have challenged my thinking more so than i ever could have imagined.

Bless God, today, my friends...Bless God.

Monday, August 31, 2009

this morning started out like any other typical morning for me as of lately. i got up, read the news, checked my email, and checked facebook. eventually, i turned the tv on and flipped through the channels. i noticed that "adoption stories" was going to come on in about 15 minutes and read the information to decide whether or not i wanted to watch it. as my eyes read over the words, i saw that the couple was going to be adopting a child from guatemala and decided that i love hearing people's stories about international adoptions.

so the show started, and i was multitasking planning volleyball practice for today. but it wasn't long before i heard someone on the show say the boy this couple was preparing to adopt was from india. immediately, i was complete engrossed in the tv. as i watched this family's story unfold, i couldn't help but think back to my summer with my children at the orphanage. and then, this family's little boy in india got very sick; they dropped everything and went to india immediately.

that is about the time that i began to cry. because at this point, i was already comparing the orphanage they were adopting this little boy from to the orphanage i have been at for the past two summers, and then i began to think about when my kids at the orphanage get sick. when my kids at the orphanage get sick, there really is no way for me to know how they are doing. and as much as i hate to say it, i'm not at a place where i can drop everything and fly there to be with them. would i? absolutely, in a heartbeat. but i can't, and i hate it.

as the show ended, my tears dried up, and i wished in the worst way that i knew the couple who had been on the show so that i could rejoice with them for their new addition to their family. and i wished that i knew them so i could share with them my love for india and the children living there.

regardless, all that to say, i was reminded unexpectedly today of my love for india. and although my ankle bracelets from there haven't come off my ankles and still jingle every time i walk, it's not the same as being there. but i must continue on my journey through life.

speaking of journey through life...that's a whole other subject. i was having a conversation with a friend the other day, and i might have had this conversation with multiple friends by this point, but i kind of described to her how i was feeling with this book analogy: i feel like college was a huge section of my life, each year being a different chapter. and each chapter in itself filled with a huge number of memories and wonderful things. while there were different hard things about every year, those chapters of my life are by far my favorite of the story of my life thus far. i walked away from my college career as a completely different person. as someone who has learned to balance people's needs and her needs, someone who has chosen to find joy in the smallest of things, someone who appreciates heart to heart conversations moreso than most, someone who doesn't hesitate to speak up in regards to her opinion, and someone who has the best friends ever. there are so many other things that changed over those four years, but one of the most important things that happened was that i learned what an intimate relationship with Christ can be like.

and now that i'm not going back, i'm starting another section of my life. however, i don't have the chapter titles for this section of life yet. and quite honestly, i feel like my pages are not even being filled with anything. there are so many unknowns, and i hate the unknown. i'm trying to learn to appreciate it and to enjoy the journey that the Lord is taking me on, but remembering that day by day is difficult.

all of that said...i'm looking forward to the day when i feel like the chapters of this section of my life are being filled like the chapters of my college life were filled.

but for now, i suppose this "unknown" chapter of my life is being filled with stories that i will look back on in a few weeks, months, or even years and appreciate. and that's when i'll say, "oh yeah, that's what God was doing."

oh what a journey!

Saturday, August 22, 2009

i had coffee with a dear friend yesterday morning. we sat outside of starbucks eating our scones and drinking our cups of coffee, chatting with each other for awhile and then with two other people we knew, but when they left the table, she said to me, "tell me more about india."

i began sharing stories with her about how i grew closer to Helen this year than last, and how it helped in the healing process of losing Johnson, i told her how Helen took Rebecca and i to Johnson's grave and it was a year to the day that i had said good-bye to him at the airport when i stood at his grave, i shared with her our adventures on the train with the cockroaches, i told her how much i loved the children and how much harder it was to leave this year after getting closer with the staff and the children, i talked to her about how real the spiritual battle is there, and how we are so sheltered from it here, i talked to her about how Satan may manifest himself in evil spirits in India, but in here in the states it just looks different.

it was refreshing to tell stories about how the Lord worked, and it was refreshing to tell stories to someone who seemed to understand my heart.

but as i pulled away from starbucks, i began thinking of a conversation that we had with one of the men in India who founded an orphanage. we began asking him about hinduism and why people worship the different gods they worship...immediately, he pulled out his bible and opened it to Romans 1:21-23: "Yes, they knew God, but they wouldn't worship him as God or even give him thanks. And they began to think up foolish ideas of what God was like. As a result, their minds became dark and confused. Claiming to be wise, they instead because utter fools. And instead of worshiping the glorious, ever-living God, they worshiped idols made to look like mere people and birds and animals and reptiles."

now i can't tell you how many times i have read Romans...but i can tell you that i had never understood those verses as much as i do now after he shared them with us. these verses describe hinduism better than i can even after living in india for multiple weeks. the people who are hindus are lost...their minds are dark and confused. and they do, indeed, worship idols made to look like people, birds, animals, and reptiles.

i think the whole concept of people being lost in hinduism became more real to me when our team was praying over unreached villages in the mountains of mussoorie or when we drove past a hindu temple and i saw a small girl standing in front of it being instructed how to worship. and the concept of hinduism became real to me when i heard people's testimonies who had made sacrifices to their gods in order to protect their family but are now Christians.

but even though this all seems more real to me now, the questions continue to cloud my mind, "well, what do i do now? what do i do halfway around the world? what can i do and how can i make a difference?"

i'm sure i'll never have all the answers to this, but i know that the Lord has chosen to give me a heart that is burdened for people who are lost in hinduism and other religions for a reason. and although i may not be living among the in India, i do know that the foothold i saw Satan have on the people in India who are lost in hinduism is just as real as the foothold Satan has on people here in the states. so for now, i guess, all i can do is pray for the Lord to uncloud people's vision and to trust that He will guide my steps in making a difference in people's lives who are lost.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

it's hard to believe that i left India a month ago. i still hate the reality that i'm in the states and unable to hold my children whenever i want, but i know and am continually reminded that it's not my time to be there long term.

regardless, i met with the board of directors for the orphanage on sunday night. it was wonderful to be able to reconnect with them and share what Rebecca and i did while we were in India. but at the same time it was difficult being with people who understand how special of a place that is because it just made it all the harder for me. i was able to tell the board stories of our time with the staff, the children, with helen, with terry and jeeva, and the new baby, and so many other things. and right as i was finishing up sharing, i said to them, "on one of our last nights at the orphanage we met with the indian board, and they just kept thanking us over and over for what he had been doing and for giving our time to come. and then one of the men said to me, 'you come here and you give our children heaven for the time that you are here.'" i went on to say to the board, "and you know, that's exactly what the children, the staff, and everyone at the orphanage gave to us while we were there. heaven."

as painful as it is to not be able to be with them, i wouldn't trade my time there for anything. it's hard to explain to people that i have a family halfway around the world that doesn't speak the same language as me or look the same as me, but the reality of it is, they are my family. and they always will be my family. and for that i am forever grateful.

in other news, my sister got married on friday and i am just beginning my eighth grade volleyball season as a coach. i'm not going to lie, this is not at all where i pictured myself being. i always told myself no one could make me go back to my high school and there wasn't enough money in the world that could bribe me to go back, and here i am, willingly going in every day to coach. i guess when i said that no one could make me go back, i forgot that God's plans are always bigger. and in the mean time, i'm still waiting to find out what i'm going to be doing full time. God sure has been teaching me a lot about patience and trust, and those are two lessons that are never easy to have to learn and relearn over and over again. but as i have been trying to understand what He is trying to teach me with those two things, i am learning i often don't figure out the lessons fully until i'm on the other side of them.

it's kind of like Proverbs 20:24 says, "The Lord directs our steps so why try to understand everything along the way?" i think it's safe to say that that verse has been the theme verse for my life over the past few weeks. i don't understand a lot of what is going on, and i wish a lot of things were different...but i have also come to realize that it's a waste of my time and energy to try to understand EVERYTHING that is going on.

one day i'll understand things, it may not be until i get to heaven, but one day, i will understand. and in the mean time, i will continue trusting and being thankful that when i get too weary to walk along the path the Lord has laid out for me that He will be there to carry me.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

you know, it's interesting. this whole transition back to the states this year has been much different than last. last year, i flew straight to california for my cousin's wedding, and this year, i've been home. slightly under the weather and overly tired. and last year, once i got home from my cousin's wedding, i had about three weeks and then i headed back to iwu. and this year...well, there will be no returning to iwu.

i talked to my roommate last night on the phone (and although we don't live together anymore, i think i will probably always consider her my roommate), and we shared with each other how difficult it is not going back to school this fall. for her, she's not going back to the comforts of preseason and then the next three or so months of soccer season. and for me, i'm not going back to RA training and a year full of coffee dates and dinner dates with friends who are within walking distance.

i'm not quite sure how to describe how i feel about not going back to school except...overwhelmed. the reality of getting a big kid job can be avoided no longer, and i know soon i'm going to be working full time unable to sleep in as long as i want and unable to up and go to india for 7 weeks whenever i want as well. there's so much change happening, and once again, i've realized that no matter what you do in your life, nothing can really prepare you for this stage. at least, i haven't figured out what i could have done to prepare myself better.

but in thinking about all of this, i've realized that i am blessed. blessed beyond all measure. and actually, it brings tears to my eyes thinking about. you see, my prayer for when i went to college was that it would be all that i had hoped for it to be and more. and that prayer was answered in ways i can't even explain...those four years were the best four years of my life thus far. and as difficult it is for me to not go back, i wouldn't want it any other way...because i think that is just a beginning description of how amazing my time at iwu was.

and another one of my prayers was that the Lord would provide me with friends who would be friends for life. and i think that prayer has been answered beyond what i expected...is it difficult to think that my friends are not going to be at iwu this year? absolutely. and is it difficult knowing that i won't be at iwu with the ones who still have a year or so to finish up? yep...but do i know and trust that because our friendships are rooted and established in Christ that we will still stay in touch. absolutely.

there's so much change that is to come in the next few weeks and months, and i will be the first to tell you that i'm apprehensive. i mean really, who likes the unknown? but will i make it through? absolutely...and i say absolutely with confidence. because i know that i serve a God who has perfectly ordained my steps and who cares even about the smallest details in my life.

so as this transition back from the place where i left so much of my heart continues, it doesn't continue without tears...but in the midst of the tears, i am thankful. i am thankful i am a girl on a journey to draw closer to my Abba and that i don't have to go through any of this alone.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

well. i've been back from India for a week now...and it doesn't seem possible. not a day goes by that i don't wish i was back at the orphanage holding the little girls in my arms, laughing with them, and even being tickled by them. i miss watching them slide down the slide and swing on the two swings that they have, and i miss them even crawling up my arm to get their treasured fruit off the trees.

i'm not sure i have words to adequately describe all that happened while i was in india this year. i learned so much on so many different levels, and it was just as difficult for me to leave this year as it was last. eventually, and hopefully soon, i'll be able to put words to some of the many stories, but for now, we'll just leave it at the fact that i wish i had enough money to buy a plane ticket to go back...

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

it's been a crazy ride, thus far. and i'm not expecting it to get any less crazy, either. the days have been long, but time is flying.

i really don't have much time at all to update this, but, i figured i should at least write something.

tomorrow the journey starts to the orphanage. quite a few mixed emotions are going into that...while i am so very excited to see the children, knowing that reality is going to hit that Johnson is gone is not going to be easy.

but, God has been faithful this far and He will continue being faithful in all of the days that lie ahead.

anyway, until i have time to put a full update here, know that i am thankful for all of you who read this. be blessed today...

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

well, i would like to say that all my bags are packed and i'm ready to go, but. ha. i mean really, who would expect anything less of me when it comes to situations like this?! regardless. things conitnue coming together, and it's amazing.

it's still so surreal to me how quickly the time has gone. but i suppose reality can't be avoided as i sit on the plane tomorrow preparing to fly halfway around the world. there are so many things i'm scared of, so many things i'm excited for, so many things i'm ready to experience again, so many things i'm simply joyful about, so many things i'm not looking forward to, and so many other things in between.

you know, as much as i am not necessarily looking forward to teaching for various reasons, i have learned so much while preparing for them. i've typed 60+ pages of what we're going to be teaching all from scratch, and while at times it has been tedious, i've been forced to look at scripture more in depth.

who really knew that David didn't kill Goliath with the stone he slung at him from his sling? i mean that is what they teach in all the sunday school classes...but if you look closely at the scripture, it says that David killed Goliath with Goliath's own sword. David only knocked Goliath out with his stone. and how many people realize how intimate David's relationship with God was...and look at that through the Psalms? what about the parable about the Vine and it's branches?

there is so much buried in scripture just waiting for us to study and uncover to help us come to a better understand of how big of God we serve and how much He desires to have an intimate relationship with us.

anyway. i'll get off my soapbox for now. like i said, i probably should be packing, but...in the mean time, please know for those of you who read this, your prayers truly are coveted. and know in the mean time, that i'll be praying for all of you as well.

how beautiful are the feet of those who bring Good News, but let us not forget how beautiful the Body of Christ is as well.

Be blessed today, my friends, be blessed.

Sunday, May 31, 2009

time has flown by. seriously. i feel like i was at graduation and i blinked and now i leave for india in less than 72 hours. it's so unreal.

i finally started packing today, and by starting to pack, i mean i finally went to wal-mart and bought the things i needed to take with me and threw it in my bag. i'm sure i'll have to unpack and repack. oh the joys.

in the midst of everything though, the lessons for teaching have been coming together. five of them are done, two of them have been started, and the last one...well, i think we might just do an outline and call it quits. it's going to be review so that can't be too hard, right? well, at least that's what i'm going to keep telling myself.

the unfortunate news, for me, though, is, i went to visit my cousin out at the campground today to play with him a little before i leave the country for seven weeks, or as they described it to him, "go on a really long vacation". (not sure that what i'll be doing can be classified as a vacation, but if you are a two and a half year old, i think it would make more sense that way). anyway, my uncle came riding up on a horse and asked if i wanted to ride. of course i said yes, and jumped up in the horse's saddle. (literally, i had to jump, b/c the horse was so tall and my legs are so short...it just wasn't a good combination) anyway, my uncle claimed that we would go for a "short ride" and i said ok, and we were off. next thing i know, it's almost an hour later when we arrive back at the camp site. i didn't think much of it because i enjoyed riding through the woods and whatnot, but let me just tell you. bouncing in a saddle for an hour and now thinking about sitting in a plane for fourteen hours...oh dear. i might have to buy a pillow for that...

but in all seriousness. i am so excited to see what the Lord has in store on this trip. there has been some pretty intense opposition already, and while that's frustrating and discouraging in the moments, it's encouraging to know that it's the Evil One at work because he doesn't want this trip to happen. so i will continue to put on the full armor of God and stand firm in his truths and promises as i step out in faith in the middle of the battlefield.

speaking of God's truths, last sunday at church, two young girls sang a song that we used to sing at my church camp as i was growing up..."Thy Word" you know, the song that goes, "Thy Word is a lamp unto my feet and a light unto my path."

i loved that song when i was little, partly because i had the chorus memorized and knew what i was singing for once, but as i listened to the lyrics of this song, i was amazed at how full of truth a simple song can be. i would have to say, though, that the first verse is the verse that stuck out to me the most...let me just put it in here for you. "When I feel afraid, think I've lost my way, still you're there right beside me. Nothing wil I fear as long as you are near, please be near me to the end..."

May the first sentence be the verse that I remind myself of each morning as I wake up. and may the second sentence be the sentence that becomes my prayer each day...

Thursday, May 21, 2009

well, the reality is that i leave in less than two weeks now. the reality of boarding a plane to fly halfway around the world again for seven weeks is quite overwhelming. i can't believe i'm doing it again, and although i've been to the country twice before, i have no idea what to expect.

the past few weeks have been rather busy with trying to catch up with everyone i want to see before i leave and with trying to get things in order for leaving...i feel like i have slowed down much since graduation, and the reality of it is, i haven't. i think i romanticized in my head how great it would be to be home for five weeks. not that home hasn't been great, because it has been. i've had countless encouraging conversations with my dad and mom and have laughed hysterically with them both almost on a daily basis. but back while i was at school, i had imagined myself pouring over scripture, praying alllll the time, and planning for this summer. and i have been doing those things, but there just doesn't seem to be enough time in the day to do it to the extent that i had wanted to.

regardless, as busy as these past few weeks have been, i would say it's pretty safe to say that Satan has done a good job of distracting me despite my valiant attempts to stand firm against it. it frustrates me to no avail when i think about how good Satan is at getting our eyes of Jesus, or maybe i shouldn't speak for everyone. let me try that again, it frustrates me to no avail when i think about how good Satan is at taking MY eyes off Jesus...perhaps you can relate, and if you can't, well, i'd love hearing how you avoid Satan's antics.

my purpose of this blog today, though, was not to complain about how busy i have been, but i guess, my purpose in this blog (if blogs can have a purpose) was to share a little about how Satan has been distracting and then the truth the Lord revealed to me last night.

so let me begin back a few days ago. i could tell that something wasn't quite right with the way i was feeling, but just chalked it up to nerves about my trip that was so fast approaching. i kind of pushed off the uneasy feelings for a couple of days, and then, it was almost as if the Lord said to me, "When are you going to take the time to tell me what's really on your heart?" i tried the excuse of telling him that i didn't have anything to say, but yet, He replied with, "Oh, but i think you do..." and then i tried the next excuse of i'm really tired tonight, how about in the morning? and He patiently replied to me saying, "You know just as well as I do that you are not consistent with doing devotions in the morning, so are you willing to push your tiredness aside and share your heart with me?"

i eventually realized i could never come up with an excuse good enough to not share what was on my heart with Him. the frustrating part was, though, that i had no idea where to begin...but i think that's normal, at least for me. so anyway, i began journaling and the words just kind of flooded the pages. as my hand moved across the page, i saw a common theme being written that i'm not sure i had ever experienced before.


when i came to this realization i tried to come up with times in my life that i have been fearful of things. as i layed in my bed, i couldn't really come up with anything. i'm not the kind of girl that is afraid of spiders or snakes or bugs really in general...i'm not afraid of the dark, i'm not afraid of public speaking, and i'm not afraid of the water. but as i flipped back through the pages that i had just written, i realized that i was fearful of every single thing i prayed about. i was fearful about going to india for seven weeks, i was fearful about being away from home for so long, i was fearful about missing out on the planning of my sister's wedding, i was fearful about what i am going to be doing when i get back from india, i was fearful about whether or not i would be able to find a job, i was fearful about being a burden, i was fearful about the speaking engagement that Rebecca and i will be participating in in India, i was fearful about how i am going to react to Johnson not being at the orphanage, and the list could go on and on.

talk about overwhelming and feelings of inadequacy. after i realized all of these things, i began to say to myself, "how in the WORLD did i get to this point? i've never been at a place like this before in my life." and then it hit me. Satan was working in a way that i wasn't expecting to distract me from what the Lord has in store for me.

i knew in my head that the Lord has every single one of those things under control that i was fearful of, but somehow Satan intercepted that message from getting to my heart. how annoying!

so as the days continued i tried to be more aware of the things in which i was fearful of...i began being more intentional of praying against the spirit of fear and asking the Lord to protect me from the Evil One's schemes. obviously, it was not a quick fix, and i would even venture to say that it still isn't all the way fixed and i'm not sure when it will reach that point or if it ever will. but i do know, in my head and in my heart, that being in the will of God is the safest place for me to be, and that's exactly where i have found myself.

but God wasn't done with me yet...

as i sat in the living room with my mom last night, she conveniently turned on her TiVo-ed episode of Joyce Meyer. she's done this a couple of other times when i've been sitting in the living room with her late at night, and every other time, i've allowed myself to be distracted by facebook or other various things, but from the moment mom turned the show on, it was almost as if the Lord was saying to me, "Tonight, this is for you..." i kind of brushed it off and went back to planning for India, but as i looked up, i saw the topic she was going to be speaking on...

Faith versus Fear

i rolled my eyes and said to the Lord, "Ok, God, i get it...go ahead and speak." (i'm very thankful that i serve a God who has a sense of humor, and that he loves me despite my sarcastic and all too honest attitude sometimes.)

now you would think i have learned by now that when i ask God to speak how dangerous it truly can be, and i mean dangerous in the best way possible. anyway. as Joyce started talking my mom paused the show literally 3 minutes in saying, "she just says so much stuff, i can't write it all down fast enough." i retorted back with, "well mom, why don't you type it out on your computer rather than had writing it." she pretty much ignored me and continued writing until she had what she wanted on her paper and then started the tv again. before i knew what happened, i had a word document opened on my computer typing as quickly as i could trying to write down the words of truth this lady on the tv was saying. sounds pretty ridiculous, i know, right?!

anyway. Joyce began talking about how there are very few people in this world that actually end up doing what God has for them to do in their life because of fear, but she was quick to remind her listeners that even though Satan has used fear to distract and discourage those who are trying to follow Jesus, God has given us faith which is far more powerful than fear. We just have to know how to execute it.

The simple truth is this; God knows what we are fearful of, but He has already given us the faith we need to overcome that fear. (See Romans 12:3)

So as i listened, i was thinking to myself, "ok, i get that faith trumps fear, but how in the world am i to execute that faith that i have already been given?" well, i was in luck because that was exactly what Joyce addressed next. She went on to say, "You release your faith through your thoughts, your words, your actions, and of course through prayer. You can't sit around and think fear thoughts and walk in faith. What we think about is very important; what we meditate on is very important"

It was the second sentence, though, that really caught my attention. "You can't sit around and think fear thoughts and walk in faith." seems simple, but i think it's easier said than done. i mean, when i think about how overcome with fear i was that night about everything going on in my life, i had no room for faith...so the fear just flooded my every thought. but once i finally decided that i wanted to walk in faith and started being intentional in praying i quickly recognized how much more powerful my faith that my God, my Father, and my Creator has given me is than any fear that Satan tries to distract me with.

anyway. Joyce went on to say some pretty profound things; at least they were profound to me because they were what i needed to hear. but she said, "Faith is simple; it is believing God, believing the word of God, and believing his truth more than what the world is telling you."

now, i'm not sure i would go as far to say that faith is simple, because i think having faith in such a complex, wonderful, powerful God sometimes can be difficult because we are human; however, i fully believe as Christians we have to recognize that when the world is discouraging us from following what God has called us to, we have to believe that his truth far exceeds anything that we could comprehend or understand. and we must take refuge in that.

1 John 4:4 says, "Greater is He that is in me, than he that is in the world." when one stops to look at what this verse is really saying, he or she is able to quickly realize that the first He the verse is referring to is God and the he the verse is referring to about being in the world is Satan. so read that again, "Greater is He that is in me, than he that is in the world." read it. memorize it. and rejoice in it.

not only has God given us the faith we need to overcome any fear that Satan brings into our lives, but God also tells us right there in 1 John 4:4 that HE is greater than the one who lives in the world. what comfort that brings...

anyway, i realize i'm writing a novel, but i'm not quite done yet...

One of the final things Joyce talked about in the short 20-25 minutes that she was on our tv last night was about the fact that "It's so much fun to pray for something, and it's so great when you get to the end of it, but it's the middle that sucks." now, maybe i liked her last night because she was willing to say sucks while she was preaching, but really, i think i liked her so much because she wasn't afraid to speak truth. but how true was her statement about the middle sucking?! i mean when you think about how there are times in your life when you prayed for the Lord to change you or ask him to cause you to grow; it's fun to pray that to see how God will answer and when you get to the end of it, it feels good, but as you're going through the changing or growing process i'll be the first to raise my hand and say, "this sucks! get me out!!" (i never really think i mean for the Lord to get me out, but sometimes i wish the process didn't have to be so painful.)

so the middle sucks. plain and simple. God never promised for any of it to be easy; He just promised to never leave us in the midst of it. and if i had to say, the middle is where i have found myself over the course of the last few weeks. and i'm not sure where the end is, but i do know that as much as i wish it didn't have to hurt so much to grow and mature, i wouldn't trade any of it.

i'm thankful i am able to look back on the course of the past few weeks and say, "wow, i've come a long way, and even though i have a long way to go, i'm thankful i am able to recognize how powerful faith is." i'm thankful that i was able to identify the fact that Satan was using fear to distract me, discourage me, isolate me, and cause me to doubt. i'm thankful that i will never be the same because of these lessons i've learned. i'm thankful that God has already given me the faith i need to overcome fear that comes into my life. and i'm thankful that He that is in me, is greater than he that is in the world.

and just remember, as Joyce put it last night, "No matter how overpowering fear feels to you, your faith is always bigger."

amen? amen!!

Friday, May 8, 2009

about a week ago, i asked the Lord to help me understand my purpose of going back to India two summers in a row. as excited as i have been, that still doesn't change the fact that i don't go through periods of questioning what the Lord truly is thinking opening the door for me to return to a country i love so soon. it's not that i'm doubting that He is going to use me, i think it's more opposition from the Evil One trying to distract, but anyway, the journey the Lord has taken me on this week of helping me understand my purpose of going back to India has been one unlike any other.

on sunday, i started a sunday school class at my church. in the class we are studying the book of galatians; paul wrote this book after either his first or second missionary journey to the people of galatia because they, essentially, had fallen away from the truth. anyway, i know i'm not paul, but galatians 1:15 says, "But when he who had set me apart before I was born and who called me by his grace," now, i'm sure some of you reading that are thinking, 'well, where is the rest of that sentence?' well the sentence continues on into verses 16 and 17, but as i reread that verse, it was kind of the Lord's way of showing me that He had set me apart before i was born for this trip and He has called me by his grace even though i don't completely understand. now, again, i know i'm not paul, but if you were go to on to read verse 16 you would find out that paul talks about going to preach to the gentiles and that is (from my understanding) part of what the Lord had set him apart for and called him to. (and can we please just have for a moment, that the Lord had set paul, formerly known as saul, apart from birth, even though before the Lord renamed him he persecuted Christians worse than most anyone?...i'm thankful i serve that kind of a God.) now when i go to India this summer, i'm not going to be preaching to the gentiles, but i am going to be preaching to some of the people in India; sometimes that will be verbally, sometimes that will be through touch, sometimes that will be through a smile, or sometimes that will simply be through my silent prayers as i travel throughout the country; no matter, it's an honor and privilege to serve my God and my Father in this manner.

and after that on sunday, i wasn't expecting the Lord to really say anything else to me about my purpose in going, i don't think. but He sure has had other things in mind. on monday, i started reading a book entitled, Passion for the Heart of God, if you are at all interested in mission work or feel called in some way or another to be involved with missions, i would encourage you to read it. i'm only on page 32, and it has taught me more than words can express. this book examines missions from the perspective of the whole Bible rather than just the New Testatment or the Great Commission that is given in Matthew 28:18-20.

basically, what it boils down to, is that mission work can be traced back to Abraham, formerly known as Abram. Genesis 12:1-3 says, "Now the Lord said to Abram, "Go from your country and your kindred and your father’s house to the land that I will show you. And I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you and make your name great, so that you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and him who dishonors you I will curse, and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed."

Two things; here, the Lord is commanding Abraham to go just as He has to each of us. but the second thing isn't as obvious, and i didn't understand it until i was reading this book, and i can't word it as well as what the author has (i suppose that's why he got paid for writing this book?!) so i'm just going to go ahead and quote it. he says, "The word bless is the Hebrew word barak, which can be translated "bless" or "relationship." God says, 'I will bless you and through you all nations will be blessed.' Replace the world 'bless' with the other optional word, 'relationship.' 'I will be in relationship with you, and through you all nations will have this relationship extended to them...He desires to extend this 'barak', this blessing of right relationship, to the nations."

wow. this process of bringing the lost back to God started clear back with Abraham; Abraham, the man who was willing to sacrifice his beloved son Isaac, the man who had faith that the Lord would provide, and the man who is the Father of all nations. and now the Lord has chosen me, a twenty-two year old, female to have a part in this too? that basically leaves me speechless.

but as i kept reading the book, there are all sorts of verses the author brings up in only the first 32 pages that have helped me grasp things a little bit more in regards to how missions truly is a common theme throughout the whole Bible. (see, Ezekiel 36:22-24, Isaiah 45:22, Isaiah 61, Psalm 24:1, Psalm 46:10; Psalm 67:1, and Revelation 7:9-10.) and if that's only within the first 32 pages, i'm very much looking forward to what else is in store.

so one would think that the Lord probably was done there with the ways in which he was going to answer my prayer of showing me my purpose of going back to India, right? i, foolishly, did once again, too. but, He wasn't and probably isn't.

as i have been doing my nightly devotions, it never ceases to fail that some of the verses in one way, shape, or form deals with missions or have answered that prayer in some way. take for example John 15:16a, "You did not choose me, I chose you. I appointed you to go and produce lasting fruit." or how about Mark 16:15, "Go into all the world and preach the Good News to everyone." and John 3:30, "He must because greater and greater, and I must become less and less." and Psalm 105:4, "Search for the Lord and for his strength; continually seek him." and finally, John 4:34-38, "My nourishment comes from doing the will of God, who sent me and from finishing his worrk. You know the saying, 'Four months between planting and harvest.' But I say, wake up and look around. The fields are already ripe for harvest. The harvesters are paid good wages, and the fruit they harvest is people brought to eternal life. What joy awaits both the planter and the harvester alike. You know the saying, 'One plants and another harvests.' And it's true. I sent you to harvest where you didn't plant; others had already done the work, and now you will get to gather the harvest."

i guess i'm not entirely sure if any of this makes sense to anyone else who comes acrossed this post, but i do know, that i am thankful i serve a God who knows me well enough to continue providing me with answers to a prayer in unexpected ways. and i'm thankful that i serve a God who has had a heart for the lost for all of time. i'm thankful that He continues moving and working in ways that are so far beyond anything i can imagine that it gives me goosebumps. and i'm thankful that he has called each of us, as Christians, to go and preach his love to those who feel unloved, to feed the hungry, to encourage the broken-hearted, and so much more. i'm thankful that i can call him my Father and that he calls me his beloved daughter. what a wonderful journey this summer in India is going to be once again, as i step out in faith, trusting He is going to show up in so many ways and speak through me in ways i can't even fathom.

i am honored and i am humbled.

Friday, May 1, 2009

i can officially say that i am leaving for india next month now...

mmm, mongoose, sweet nandini sleeping in my lap, and the beautiful coconut trees and mountains. it seems too good to be true to be going back.

what an amazing feeling...and it just proves to me once again how faithful of a God i serve.

Monday, April 27, 2009

it's official; i'm an alumna of indiana wesleyan university. despite my valiant efforts to try to come up with reasons to not have to leave, i still walked across the stage on saturday morning to receive my diploma cover. they say my actual diploma will be arriving in the mail sometime this week.

regardless, leaving the place that i had come to call home over the course of the last four years was harder than i ever imagined it to be. i'm finally putting the pieces back together from all of it, but that doesn't mean the fact that i'm not going back in august isn't still heartbreaking for me. there are so many things i am going to miss--from fresh brew to chapel, from lunch and dinner dates to homework by the fireplace, from weekends spent at the front desk to business and covenant meetings, from adventures in odyssey to late night talks, and so much more.

i am indeed excited for what is to come, but it's the knowing how many changes are going to take place that i'm not looking forward to.

as i transition back to living at home, it's hard to think and imagine that in approximately 37 days i will boarding a plane to fly halfway around the world again. it's crazy for me to think back on how many doors the Lord has opened for me to spend another summer in India. it really seems too good to be true. i never imagined that when i began praying during my time there last summer that he would take me back there someday that it would be so soon. i think part of me just expected to have to wait three or more years like i did the last time. but once again, He showed me how much higher his ways are than my ways.

and even though returning to a place that i have been before provides me with some comfort, there are still many unknowns and many differences this time around. thinking about Johnson not being there this time brings tears to my eyes, and the fact that Dhivya is no longer at the orphanage makes me sad. but, in the midst of my questioning the Lord what he is doing, i hear a gentle, quiet voice saying to me, "Elizabeth, I have it all under control; just trust me."

and when i hear that, i can't help but smile. not necessarily because trusting is something i do well all of the time, but because i know that He is going to show up in ways i can't even understand right now. and i smile knowing that soon my fingers will stained yellow and smell like curry, but i smile even bigger knowing that i am and will continue to be right in the palm of God's victorious and powerful right hand.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

saying good-bye might be one of the hardest parts.
especially saying good-bye to the friends who have become family.

Monday, April 20, 2009

graduation is in four days. and the word bittersweet continues to define my feelings towards it. the realness of it set in this weekend, and the tears began falling. i'm not sure when they will stop, either. but that's ok. i think i would rather be in the place that i am in not wanting to leave than anxiously anticipating getting out of here.

i think back over the past four years, and there have definitely been ups and downs, but never in my wildest dreams did i expect this time to go so quickly nor did i expect myself to enjoy myself as much as i have.

i think processing through having to leave is going to be a continual process; perhaps that is why i have a month (give or take a few days) at home prior to embarking on another journey to india. but in the mean time, i'm going to have to continue to trust that the Lord is going to bring peace to the uncertainty and joy to the sadness; because while this may not be fun at the present moment, good things are going to come, i just have to be patient, wait, and trust.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

i had a divine appointment with God today. quite unexpected as it happened at work while i was in the office.

you see, the sheer reality that graduation is in 16 days hit me this morning as i was walking to my car. perhaps it was a spill over from the end of the year check-out meeting i had last night during my ra business meeting, but no matter, this morning it hit me square in the face that my time here at iwu will soon be over.

so as i sat in a chair in the office, i opened up my book that i have been reading recently called Starving Jesus by Craig Cross and J.R. Mahon. i had stopped the previous day in the middle of a chapter, which i don't typically like doing, but i didn't have much of a choice at the time as i had to leave to go on a home visit. as my eyes moved over each paragraph, i knew it was one of those times that the Lord was saying to me, "my child, these words are for you today." part of me wanted to shrink back in my chair and tell the Lord, "no, i'm not ready to hear this or read this." however, He gently persisted and i kept reading. reading sentences and paragraphs such as those written below...

"...your walk with Chris has very little to do with your plans and design. It is solely about serving God and those around you."

"It's amazing how we push our agenda with him. We back God up against the walls of our lives. We tell him we need this or that. We give him deadlines. We are so used to living our lives instantly, right now, this second, immediately; we forget our lives are his. Not the other way around. Listening means we must be in a position to hear him."

"...listening to God means a lot of sacrifice at times."

"God's plan for you, me, and the reast of humankind is real. He desires us to be near him and close to those who also know him, and always with a mind for those who need to be close to him."

"A lot about listening to God doesn't make sense. Having faith in something you have never seen, never heard, never touched. It is all quite nuts, except for the fact that your life changes on a dime when you engage Christ. When you listen and exercise that faith, the ignorable calling bears itself out in the fulfillment of your desires. God will fulfill the desires of your heart--that's the freedom you have as a result of Christ on the cross. You lose your life so you can find it, but you must listen and act."

wow. anyone else see a theme there? perhaps it's just me, because i feel like that "theme/themes" been the theme/themes of this entire year.

listening. surrendering. his will, not mine. being a servant. faith. intimacy.

oh, i could spend days unpacking what each of those paragraphs or sentences really means or how they have spoken to me.

it all kind of reminds me of the parable that Jesus tells about the seeds and the soil. (bear with me, maybe i'll be able to make the correlation...) i think about different times in my life, and i think that at one point or another my life has reflected all the different kinds of soil talked about in Mark 4:14-20. ultimately, my goal is to live a life that reflects the good soil, a life that is producing a harvest in order to expand his Kingdom, but how can i not acknowledge the times where i have questions God's will, been frustrated with He is doing, or completely ignored what He was trying to say to me? i can't. sure, i would love to pretend that everything in my walk with Christ is always easy and always perfect, but i'm not one who thinks lying is the best or healthiest choice. does my stubbornness often prevent me from being obedient right away? you betcha. am i proud of that? no, not even a little. but, what i can say is that the Lord is patient with me, and He is teaching me to let go of my stubbornness because so much of it is caused by pride. i like to picture it as the Lord walking with me, showing me what weeds i have in my life that prevent me from being just like the good soil, and He bends down to help me pull those weeds out of my life no matter how deep their roots may run. it is probably one of the most painful journeys i've been on in awhile, but so much joy and peace has come from it and will continue to come from it, i wouldn't trade it for anything.

and through that journey, i have had to listen, surrender, serve, trust, understand that his ways are far above mine, and come to a more intimate level with Christ than ever before.

all of that to say, divine appointments with God are my favorite, even if they are unwanted in the beginning. and, once again, i am reminded of how thankful i am to serve a God who knows me better than i know myself.

Saturday, April 4, 2009

"The one who calls you is faithful, and he will do it."
1 Thessalonians 5:24

Friday, April 3, 2009

bittersweet is the only word that can adequately describe life right now.

i'm torn between the excitement of what the next chapter of my life holds and the saddness that comes with leaving all that is familiar. the simple fact that graduation is three weeks from tomorrow is absolutely unreal. i really feel like i just moved into college in august for the first time...oh how time flies.

i think about how much i've grown and changed over the past four years, and i am amazed at how the Lord has worked in my life and changed my heart. when i came to college, i didn't even have a major, and now i am more passionate about what i am doing with my life than i ever thought possible. i never expected to fall in love with hurting people in the way that i have, and i never expected the Lord to break my heart for what breaks his in the way that he has. i never imagined that i would be comfortable sitting in homes that i have found myself in throughout the course of this year, and i never thought that different injustices would cause me to be angry enough to cry. and if i'm being completely honest, i never expected myself to be as emotional as i have become.

i think back to the way life used to be, and i'd be lying if i said i didn't wish it was still the same sometimes. life seemed so much simpler in high school and for sure in elementary school. i think about the carefree days of sitting in my bedroom playing and reading and the busy, activity filled days of high school. and now, i'm twenty-two, thinking about the reality of bills and a full-time job.

i can recall a conversation i had with my dad at one point in time in junior high or high school...we were on our way into town from our house probably to go grocery shopping or something, and dad talked to me about missions. i remember him saying to me, "i wouldn't be surprised if one of my daughters ended up on the mission field one day." and my response consisted of, "well, dad, i guarantee that it will be rachel because there is no way i will ever move that far away from home." i believe that he probably chuckled at me and told me not to underestimate God, and in my stubbornness i shrugged it off and probably mocked him in some way or another. and now, i look at the work the Lord has done in my heart and how he has completely changed my worldview and caused me to fall in love with people whom i've never even met and i can't help but think that my dad's statement is more true than i was willing to admit at that point in life.

isn't it funny how God works? isn't it funny how we think we can plan our lives according to our desires and wants, but then God simply smiles down on us and says, "Oh, my child, my dear child, you have no idea what i have planned for you..." i can't help but wonder how often people ignore that...and i can't help but wonder how often i have ignored that in my life.

i don't think we necessarily intentionally ignore the fact that God's plans always prevail, but i think sometimes it's hard not to get caught up in the day to day activities of humanness. what am i referring to, one may ask, though? well...the simple need to be in control. the need to control every aspect of our lives...where we're going to live, where we're going to work, who we're going to marry, who we're going to be friends with, what friendships are going to last for a lifetime, etc. i mean, everyone likes to be in control or feel like they are in control at least. but, i think i've realized, when we admit that we have no control that our lives actually begin to feel like they are on track.

regardless. i feel as though this post is scattered, but then again, that probably is a good representation of my thoughts over the course of the past week or so.

on another note, the reality that i am going to be travelling back to india this summer has finally set in. at least partially. the reality that it is basically in two months, though, hasn't completely clicked. my heart is overwhelmed at the thought of being reunited with my beloved children, but my heart also breaks at the thought of all of the changes and transitions that have happened at the home in the course of the past year.

the differences will be great, but i am continually trying to remind myself that different is beautiful. i'm excited to see the way the Lord intricately pieces together this trip just as he did last summer, and i'm even more excited to see what he has to teach me not only as i prepare to go but also while i am there, basking in his presence, surrounded by the mountains and coconut trees, with the warm breeze in my face.

in the mean time, though, i will continue praying for the Lord's guidance as one of the biggest chapters of my life comes to a close, and i will continue praying that the Lord would prepare me to love boldly and to trust blindly as i journey back to the country i fell in love with four years ago...

Sunday, March 29, 2009

"Therefore, change your hearts and stop being stubborn. For the Lord your God is the God of gods and the Lord of lords. He is the great God, the mighty and awesome God, who shows no partiality and cannot be bribed. He ensures that orphans and widows receive justice. He shows love to the foreigners living among you and gives them food and clothing. So you, too, must show love to foreigners, for you yourselves were once foreigners in the land of Egypt. You must fear the Lord your God and worship him and cling to him. Your oaths must be in his name alone. He alone is your God, the only one who is worthy of your praise, the one who has done these mighty miracles that you have seen with your own eyes."
Deuteronomy 10:16-21

i was awed by these verses tonight. simply awed. i read them. i stopped. i reread them. i stopped. i kept reading. and then i went back and read them again. then i shared them with my roommate, and i shared them with another dear friend of mine.

it's on nights like tonight that i am reminded the Lord does indeed answer my prayer of giving me a sense of wonder...

how thankful i am that my God is not a god of confusion but a god of order and a god of peace. One who is never late, but always perfect in his timing.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

it's been a month since thatta has passed away, but yet i'm still not sure it has completely hit me that he's gone. the pictures of his tombstone have come, the updates about the funeral have been read, and tears continue to be shed over the loss. i miss him, but i've never stopped missing him since i walked into the airport all those months ago after the six most amazing weeks of my life. so i guess i'm not entirely sure i realize now what is so different. i know in my head that he is gone, but i don't think it's reached my heart yet. and i'm not entirely sure that will happen until i arrive at the orphanage again.

plans have continued to fall into place for this summer, and as excited as i am for it, i think i'm realizing how different it is going to be. not only is thatta gone, but i received another email this week that one of the girls i connected with the most ended up taking a government job due to the loss of her father and the extreme financial need her mother was in. this is quite unheard of at the orphanage especially since this young girl was in college to become a nurse. she was one of the most respected girls in the orphanage and had such a sweet spirit. i just hope that i will be able to connect with her while i am there...

and as the days continue whizzing by, i continue to be amazed at what the Lord is teaching me and how he is moving in my life. i'm not sure i'll ever get used to the fact that the journey he has me on takes unexpected twists and turns, but in the end, i'm always grateful for them. i've realized more this week than normal that i must continue to trust, speak truth, love, be patient and surrender. and as difficult as those things may be at different times, i'm excited to see where they may lead me next.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

"Is this not the kind of fasting I want: Free those who are wrongly imprisoned, lighten the burden of those who work for you. Let the oppressed go free and remove the chains that bind people. Share your food with the hungry and give shelter to the homeless. Give clothes to those who need them, and do not hide from your relatives who need help...Feed the hungry, and help those in trouble. Then your light will shine out from the darkness and the darkness around you will be as bright as noon. The Lord will guide you continually giving you water when you are dry and restoring your strength. You will be like a well watered garden, like an ever-flowing spring."
Isaiah 58:6-7, 10-11

i was able to go to chapel this wednesday for only like the third time this whole semester, and the verses written above were the basis of the service along with 1 John 3 about not merely saying we love each other but showing the truth by our actions.

i was moved to tears. the hard truth of the service pointed out the fact that knowing God intimately affects how we care for the poor. as i sat and reflected about that more and more, i craved to know the Lord at a deeper level in order to love others more. it reminded me of my children halfway around the world, and it reminded me of the clients i see on a daily basis.

i have thought about the fact that although i have continued praying for the Lord to break my heart for what breaks his and he has continued to answer that in different ways, i am still only getting small glimpses of what that truly looks like. and as much as it may hurt on certain days, i wouldn't change it for anything.

as i flip through the pages of my journal, i notice that my entries may be few and far between, but yet i am so thankful for the journey that fills the pages. i am continually reminded that the Lord is directing my steps, that in the midst of confusion he is always present, that his ways are so much higher than mine, and that as many times as i fail and stumble he remains faithful.

i will never understand, but i will continue to be thankful.
and i will continue to be thankful for all of always.

may he continue using, shaping, molding, and changing me in whatever way he has ordained. may my life bring glory, honor, and praise to his name, and may he continue to give me the great privilege of being his hands and feet.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

spring break marks the halfway point of second semester. the halfway point of second semester this year means graduation is almost here. graduation means real life is just around the corner. and i haven't entirely figured out what real life means yet.

sitting in my living room this morning, i carelessly flipped through the channels trying to find something decent to watch. after jon & kate plus 8, i settled on gilmore girls. interestingly enough, it was all about rory moving into college. i remember watching that episode the summer before i moved into school. at one point in time rory says, "i just hope it will be everything i have been imagining it to be."

when i watched that episode before i moved into school, i remember thinking the exact same thing. and here i am almost four years later, and now i am able to say that college has been everything i imagined it to be and more. each year has brought its own trials and challenges, but each year has provided me with more memories and laughs than ever before.

it's so weird to think that the place i was so apprehensive about going to, i'm even more apprehensive about leaving. it truly has become a second home to me, and that i think that is only because of the people i have become friends with. not only did i find a second home, i found a second family.

what a blessing it has been to walk through life with the people i have met, and the Lord has been so faithful year after year providing me with people the exact people i needed to encourage me and love me well.

as the next seven weeks of my life fly by before graduation, i guarantee there will be tears shed, laughter that abounds, memories made that are irreplaceable, lessons learned, meaningful conversations had, and challenges faced and hopefully conquered.

as scary as the unknown is, i'm excited to see where the Lord will lead. and just as i had to trust blindly last year as everything with India unfolded, i am going to have to trust blindly again that the Lord will provide and direct my steps as i make may way through life trying to live a life that brings glory and honor to his name.

Saturday, February 28, 2009

May 7, 1940-February 21, 2009
my thatta is gone. i received an email last friday informing me that he had passed...it's taken me quite some time to be able to put words to any of my thoughts and feelings, and i know that it's going to continue to take time to process through everything.
i've hated the distance that has been separating me from india and the orphanage more than normal this week. more than anything i've wanted to be with my family there who understand my thoughts, my feelings, and my pain. i've longed to sit on the steps in front of the girls' hostile holding the little ones in my arms and comforting the older ones. and i have wished so much that i could adequately convey to johnson's family how much of an impact he had on my life.
thinking about this summer and potentially going back to the orphanage is such a bittersweet thought. yes, i have confidence that johnson will be one of the first people that i see when i get to heaven, but it kills me to know that johnson won't be the first person i see when i open up the door to my apartment. it kills me to know that i will never have tea and biscuits with him again here on the earth, and it breaks my heart to know that i will not be able to laugh at his jokes.
i'm finally reaching the place where i am thankful for the vivid memories i do have with him, and i'm beyond thankful for the six life changing weeks i spent with him. i hate that i wasn't able to say good-bye, but i rejoice in the fact that he is walking on the streets of gold, singing continual songs of praise, and basking in the presence of our Lord who allowed our paths to cross. and i'd be willing to put money on it that he's having coffee and cashews and cracking jokes with moses, elijah, king david, john the baptist, job, and everyone else.
i'm sure there will be more thoughts to come, but i know until i get to heaven, the memories will continue to live on, and i will continue thanking the Lord for the beauty that comes along with the Body of Christ.

Friday, February 6, 2009

as i find myself sitting in front of the computer tonight, my surroundings are completely different for the first time in a long time as i write on here. my empty smoothie cup is sitting on the table, my journal, bible, and books are tucked nicely away in my bag, music i have never heard before in my life is playing in the background, i hear the chatter of multiple conversations occurring around me, and while i'm sitting with perfect posture in a booth and not sitting in my big, comfy red chair on campus, i am more content now that i have been in quite some time.

as my last semester at iwu has continued to transpire, life has not slowed down nor has it gotten any easier. i find myself exhausted when i get back from practicum and feeling as though i am missing on on so many of my friends' lives. i hate that there aren't more hours in the day, and i hate the fact that i can't just survive on two hours of sleep. it just feels like there aren't enough hours in the day.

and i hate that too.

i've hated it all semester, but this week it all caught up with me. it's the first time in a long time i've had someone look at me and say, "you're not taking care of yourself." i tried to argue it and deny it, but there really was no way around it. i did just what i had promised myself i wasn't going to do again; i overcommitted myself, i tried to live up to others' expectations, i tried to take care of myself, i completely ignored the heartache i was feeling, and i most definitely did not trust blindly.

how thankful i am, though, for the Lord's goodness and grace. because although time and time again i fail He remains faithful, saying to me, "My precious daughter, I love you and I care for you. You have to let me, but I will always be here to hold you, to wipe away your tears, to listen when you need to vent, to walk with you hand in hand, and to remind you that you are worthy." it truly does give a new meaning to the part in amazing grace when it says, amazing grace...that saved a wretch like me. i sometimes am that wretch, but his amazing grace saves me every, single time.

regardless, the craziness of my week began on monday when i received a text message from stacey saying that johnson had taken another turn for the worse. my heart instantly broke, but i refused to let myself feel anything because i knew i had to get through the remainder of the day at practicum. i'm not even entirely sure i have words to describe the range of emotions i felt this week or how to tell anyone that even though i know the right thing to do is surrender the situation to the Lord, i don't want to let go of him yet. i don't want when he said, "i have faith we will meet again," to be when i see him in heaven, i want it to be this summer. i want him to be sitting at his desk and greeting me with "good morning, children," i want him to come over and have coffee with me every afternoon and eat biscuits and tell stories of how the Lord has spoken to him and used him to impact the lives of others, i want to walk down to the orphanage with him singing hymns, i want him to crack his jokes to me so that i can tell him how funny he is, i want him to rescue me from the lizards and abnormally large spiders, i want him to laugh at me when i can't say the tamil words exactly right, i want him to share a meal with me again, i want to be able to tell him how much his obedience has set an example for me, and i want to have more time with him being my thatta.

selfish? perhaps. but my honest thoughts and feelings? most definitely.

however. i relent myself to the fact that the Lord's ways, reasons, and timing are far above mine. so even though i have all of those thoughts and feelings and while i'm still praying for the Lord to miraculously heal him, i completely and entirely entrust him into the Lord's care and am just now reaching the point where i can say, "Your will be done, Father Your will be done."

i rejoice in the fact, though, that when Johnson gets to heaven, whether that be tomorrow, next week, next year or in ten years, i believe he is going to hear, "Well done, my good and faithful servant."

i was reminded of the song today, I Want to Leave a Legacy, by Nichole Nordman...in the song it says, "i want to leave a legacy, how will they remember me? did i choose to love? did i point to You enough to make a mark on things? i want to leave an offering a child of mercy and grace who blessed you name unapologetically, and leave that kind of legacy."

as i thought about the lyrics and i thought about what kind of legacy i want to leave, i thought about the legacy Johnson will leave behind when he passes. i thought about the impact he has made in so many children's lives and i smile when i think about the impact he made on three, crazy american girls whom he chose to love unconditionally. the legacy he will leave is far more than he ever imagined, and his humbleness in that brings me far more joy than words can explain.

so as i continue to wrestle with the reality of the fact that i might not get to see this man i love and admire so much again before the Lord calls him home, i smile to myself when i think about the mansion the Lord has prepared for him in heaven, and i smile to myself even bigger when i think about the Lord placing our homes side by side in heaven so that he will again one day be able to say, "good morning, children," and so that we can laugh together again in perfect paradise.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

today in church i was reminded of how the Lord can speak to all of us in such different ways through the same message.

part of me feels as though i should apologize that basically everytime i blog somehow, someway india is incorporated into it, but at the same time, i'm not sorry at all. i'm not sorry at all that the Lord moved in my life in such a huge way this past summer, and i am not sorry at all that i am continuing to be changed from it.

during the sermon today, my mind traveled back to india; more specifically to the sunday that i preached at sutheban's small church. i was reminded of how i talked about how we, as Christians, are all members of the same body, but each of us has different roles and make up different parts of it.

sometimes, i think it's hard for us, actually, i know it's hard for me, to not wish i was a different part of the body and to not compare myself to other believers. and right now, it's hard for me to know how my role in contributing to the different parts of the body is going to continue to play out as i'm just three short months away from embarking on a completely different chapter in my life.

i think of all the possibilities, and i think of the passions the Lord has given me. i think about my gifts, i think about my weaknesses, and i wonder how they are all going to line up.

and then i remember, i have no control. none. zip. zilch. nada. and as scary as that is for me on certain days, today i rejoice in it.

not only did i learn this summer that no one else can take my place in the Body of Christ, i also learned and came to the understanding of how true it is that His power is made perfect in my weaknesses. how freeing...

and for now, i will continue praying that other people will come to a similar understanding, and eventually, i know i will learn that the Lord answers my prayers...He just answers them in his time and not mine.

thank you, Father, for your sovereignty, and for the way you
speak to truth to each of your children. thank you that your timing
is far above ours and that you have created each of us uniquely
and perfectly for the paths you ordained for us even before
we were born. may we understand and recognize
that you love each of us indefinitely, and that the stories
you have given us all the the potential to turn a life around
and make a difference in your Kingdom.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

as the cursor blinks at me on my computer screen, it is almost as though it is mocking me for not knowing where to begin. it's saturday night, and i have found myself alone, again in my red chair, listening to some thumping noise coming from the room upstairs. the tv is on, multiple games of word twist have been played, another webcam has attempted to be installed, and yet the night is still young.

as i have walked, more like sprinted, through this semester it's hard for me to believe that it's almost february. actually, three months from tomorrow is graduation. my schedule has been unlike any ever before, and if i am being completely honest, i'm not sure i'll ever adjust to it. i miss lunch and coffee dates with friends, and i miss lazy weekday afternoons where stories and laughter flow in abundance. i miss having a consistent schedule and i miss how easy being intentional used to be for me.

as i am continuing to work through the things that i miss, i am beyond thankful for where i have been placed for my practicum. not only is the work environment more welcoming and encouraging than i could ever explain, the convenient location of it being less than 5 minutes from iwu has been more helpful than i imagined. not only does it mean that i don't have to wake up incredibly early to plan for an hour commute, but it also has allowed me to come back to school on random breaks during the day, and in those times the Lord has provided me with some divine appointments. divine appointments that will not easily be forgotten...

it continues to amaze me at how the Lord works. it amazes me that he knows what we need before we do, and it amazes me even more that he will give that to us without hesitation.

in the midst of trying to adjust to life in the real world while still living at school, my thoughts have not stop traveling halfway around the world to india. emails have come about once a week to update about johnson. he's still in the hospital and continues to be on and off the ventilator. i feel as though they still are unsure as to whether or not he is going to make it, but i continue praying for a miracle.

on tuesday night of this week, after i received the latest update about johnson, i found myself in the lobby sitting in front of the fireplace in tears as i tried to explain to a dear friend of mine what i was thinking. i'm not entirely sure i ever really put words to it, but it hurts so much to know that i could lose him, and it hurts that much more feeling selfish for wanting him to hang on so i can see him, spend time with him, laugh with him, and learn from him again. i hate knowing he's laying in a hospital bed halfway around the world, and as stacey put it the other day, not receiving the care that he could be receiving here in the states. and yet, i hate that it's been almost a month since he's been there, and i haven't been able to see him or talk to him. i'm still tempted almost every day to buy a plane ticket and make my way over there, and i don't think that will ever change either.

it's hard to believe that i've been home for six months. not a day has gone by that i haven't thought about my kids or the rest of my family over there whose lives have gone on without me. and as jess and i watched the videos from our time there on thursday night, it truly seemed like we were just there yesterday. it's amazing to me that almost exactly at this time last year plans started falling into place for last summers trip. and as i walk in the path the Lord has set out for me, i continue hoping and praying everyday that i will find myself back at the place i left such a huge part of my heart again this summer.

in the mean time, though, may i continue learning, growing, and trusting. may the Lord allow me to be a seeker an speaker of truth, may he continue to break my heart for what breaks his, and may he continue helping me to see myself through his eyes rather than my own...