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...