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 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 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.