Wednesday, December 29, 2010

each and every day, i am thankful for the blessings the Lord has placed in my life. however, on my birthday, i am always that much more thankful. i am thankful for the year that has past and for the year that is ahead of me and all the joys it has to offer me. so, as tradition would have it, here's a list of 24 things i am thankful for today on my 24th birthday.

1. a relationship with my Heavenly Father that is intimate and continually growing.
2. my husband and the journey we've been on and are on together.
3. my family; for their support, the laughter we share, and the foundation they gave me.
4. my friends; my best friend, my long time friends, my new friends, my work friends, my camp friends, all of my friends :)
5. india and my precious children halfway around the world who have taught me the importance of loving boldly.
6. my job; for the opportunities it gives me to be Jesus' hands and feet to those who otherwise have the potential to fall through the cracks in society.
7. little kids and babies; for their innocence and the joy they possess that reminds me to be thankful for the little things.
8. a relaxing night/weekend; because they are few and far between.
9. coffee; for the way it warms me up in the winter and the routine it provides me with in the mornings.
10. having my house clean, laundry done, and everything organized; because it makes me feel like i've accomplished something when it's all said and done.
11. volleyball this year; for the relationships i developed and the privilege it was to in a way be a part of a team again.
12. laughter; for the refreshment it brings and for being able to make others laugh.
13. starry clear nights; for the creativity it shows of my Creator.
14. hand written letters; writing them and receiving them; being able to make someones day in a simple yet significant way.
15. reading; for the escape it provides and the wisdom it brings.
16. sunrises/sunsets; the reminders they provide on new beginnings.
17. hugs; the way they have the ability to comfort in ways that others are unaware.
18. deep conversations; the fact that they make me feel alive afterwards.
19. being able to keep in contact with friends and family easily; phone calls, texting, facebook, emails, etc.
20. dreaming big for the future; thinking of all the possibilities of the ways in which God could use a broken vessel like me.
21. hearing others' stories; the way they remind me of the Body of Christ.
22. time alone; the relaxation and rejuvenation that occurs afterwards.
23. investing in others; being able to see other people recognize their strengths and abilities and talents just because they've hade someone believe in them.
24. memories; the fact that they remind me of the past, that i know they are always constant even in a state of change, and the ability they have to always make me laugh.

i am so thankful.
i am so blessed.
i am so looking forward to my 24th year and all that is in store.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

one of my favorite thing about lazy saturdays is coffee in the afternoons instead of the mornings. another one of my favorite things of today is that i can look out my big picture windows and see the snow falling.

i feel like the past few weeks have been a blur. i've thought about sitting down to update this quite a few times, but i'm pretty sure i just went to bed early instead. so here i am today; thankful for the stillness and still excited from the happenings of my week.

for those of you who haven't heard, i took on a new role at my job. i'm still doing everything i was doing, so really, it's just an added responsibility that i had training on for two days this week. long story short, Grant County, where i work, is bringing a framework for all youth services providers (educators, caseworkers, youth pastors, etc.) to use called the 40 Developmental Assets. These assets are 40 things that kids need to be successful; they are separated into two catergories, which are internal and external. and then they are broken down into eight smaller categories as well. anyway, this framework will provide a common language among service providers throughout the county who are serving kids with hopes to bring more assets into their lives so that they can be as successful as possible. pretty exciting if you ask me.

regardless, as i sat through the training, i was forced to look at my own life and to think about who has had an impact on or who has helped develop assets in my life. i was humbled as i sat there and thought about the way my parents encouraged me, as well as my grandma; i was grateful to think about all of the positive coaches i had in my life who took the time to invest in my life; i was amazed at the memories i have from people from church and church camp; and the list could go on and on.

and then i had to take a look at myself in another light. about whether or not i am doing all i can to invest in the people who are in my life. and i took it step farther to look at it from a Christian perspective...and i asked myself, am i doing what the Lord has called me to and am i helping to develop assets in people's lives i am a part of?

in some situations i felt like i could answer with a confident yes, but in other situations that came to my mind, i felt as though i could be working a little harder. and as i go about my days now, i am trying my hardest to take the time to notice those i often would overlook or to take the time to send that extra text message just to let someone know i was thinking about them.

another one of the coolest things about this training was that it emphasized that EVERYONE can make a difference in other people's lives. and it is so true. we never know how much of difference a smile, a card, a hug, a high five, or taking someone out for dinner can make. and it's humbling to think that we have the ability to make a difference without even knowing it.

my favorite quote from the whole two day training was this, "every child needs to be loved irrationally by one person--but better yet, they deserve it from more than one."

and it's so true; they do.

and i have a thousand times over this week thanked the Lord for giving me a heart as big as he has. while sometimes having a heart like mine comes with much heartache; i wouldn't trade it for anything. and i am so grateful for what He has entrusted me with and so blessed to be able to simply be His Hands and Feet.

as i sat in training, the thought kept occurring to me; i love my job. i love what i am doing outside of work. i love making a difference no matter how small or whether or not the results are able to be seen immediately. and as i sat in training it was definitely affirmed that i am passionate about people.

pretty much, the best way i can sum all of this up is by a Shane Claiborne quote i found several years ago, "...I want to be a lover of God and a lover of people."

life is such an amazing journey, and i'm choosing to find joy along the way. My Jesus is ever so faithful, even in the most difficult of times, and i am trusting him to carry me along the way when i don't have the strength to love others as well as i would like.

but for now, i leave you with the truth, reality and fact, that YOU too can make more a difference in the people's lives you are already in than you may ever know. don't underestimate how far even the smallest gesture can go.

praise God for working in our weaknesses to bring Him glory.

Monday, November 15, 2010

it seems strange that i am finally able to update this from my own house. being on the waiting list for the internet for 3+ months really put a damper on my blogging. but, let's be serious, who knows if i'll be any more consistent now than i was for the past few months. regardless.

tonight, i find myself r e l a x e d. and so thankful for that feeling. even though there is laundry that needs folded and a destroyed cotton ball on my floor that i let my cat play with that needs picked up, i'm ok with letting the laundry remain unfolded until tomorrow and the cotton ball to be there for at least 15 more minutes.

it's hard to believe that it's already the middle of November, that i've been married for three and a half months, that i've been at my job for over a year, that i've been back from india for five months, and that my life is still so uncertain even though it seems so stable.

i feel like no one ever tells you that after you graduate college, get a job, and get married that your life really isn't perfect. now, i really have no complaints, but the harsh reality is that the age range from the time you graduate college until who knows when is just absolutely unknown. sure, you can plan for your weeks and weekends, but looking five years down the road, who really knows what that looks all those five year plans that i have made and remade in the past year really don't have much meaning other than that they are my big dreams that i refuse to quit chasing until God shows me otherwise.

but in the midst of all the uncertainty, i've realized how good i had it in elementary, high school, and college. my days were planned and the years to come after that were pretty well planned out for me as well. all i had to worry about was what i was going to wear the next day, and even then i really didn't have to worry about that. while i disliked my high school years for various reasons, i am so tempted to volunteer to go back to that.

but, i can't. so instead of wishing, and hoping, and dreaming of things that can't really happen; i instead shall wish, hope, and dream for the future, even if the journey to whatever the future holds is rough.

ok, i digress. where to now...?

oh yes, my whole purpose in this blog...i want to tell all of you (whoever all of you are) about a conversation i had with someone last week. i've changed her name, but let me give a little background on this story.

before this conversation happened, i was with this person the day she was taken to the hospital. she is a rather young mother, whom i have never talked with about me being a Christian. (simply because i can't; not because i choose to, but because my job tells me i can't...) regardless. as i sat in her living room the following week, this is the conversation that ensued:

Sue: "You know, there is no reason that I am here today..."
Me: "What do you mean, Sue?"
Sue: "Well, I shouldn't be here, there is no reason that I lived."
Me: "Of course there is a reason that you lived..."
Pause in conversation...
Sue: "Do you believe in guardian angels?"
Me: "Well, I believe in angels, why?"
Sue: "Because I had to have a guardian angel or something watching over me last week, because there is no reason I should be here."
Me: "Well, I can understand what you're saying, but the way you're talking about a guardian angel is how I view God. And that God protects me, and I believe that God was protecting you last week."
Sue: "Yeah...because there is no reason I should still be here."
Me: "Yes, there is a reason you are still here. You have three beautiful children you have to take care of."
Sue: "Yeah, I am here to take care of my children."
Me: "Yes, you are. No one can ever take your place of doing that."
Sue: "Yeah, well, I knew I could talk to you about this because I know you believe in God and because you are a Christian."
Me: "Yes, I do believe in God, and I am a Christian."
Pause in conversation and ten minute diversion to another topic...
Sue: "Did you pray for me that day?"
Me: "Yes, I did. I prayed for you my whole way home from work that day, and I pray for you and your family often."
Sue: "Well, I knew you did because you are a Christian."
Me: "Mmmhmm."
Sue: "Well thanks."

And the conversation was dropped.

but i walked out of that house in awe of the way God has used me in her life without me even knowing it. and i walked out of that house in awe that the Lord has chosen a broken vessel like me to impact His Kingdom in ways that i am not even aware of.

did i lead that women to Christ in her living room that day? no, i did not. but do i believe i was obedient to what the Lord was asking me to do that day? yes, i do. and did it make me realize that prayer truly does change things? yes, it absolutely did.

and God deserves all the glory for that.

in other news, i'm longing to get back to my children in india. however, that is not new news. there is not one single day that goes by that i don't think of them or long to hold them in my arms. and before i sat down to write tonight, as i was painting my fingernails, i was just watching their pictures scroll by on my screensaver. their smiles brought tears to my eyes. even their joy caught for a brief second in a picture is enough to overwhelm my heart and cause me to rejoice that i have been so blessed to have spent time with them. i love that they have taught me so much about loving boldly and unconditionally.

more and more i am realizing how God uses those younger than us to teach us lessons. i think of the lessons my children in india have taught me, how much my client's have taught me, how much some of my volleyball girls have taught me, and i consider it a privilege to know each and every young person that Lord has brought into my life. i can only hope and pray that the He has used me and will continue using me in all of their lives; whether or not i see the impact here on this earth, i want to be obedient to whatever He has called me to.

oh life...there is never a dull moment, and i am so thankful that i am living for a Purpose. i'm sure i could continue on and on about the ways i've seen God show up in my life...but i'll save it for another day. afterall, i have the internet now, so i can update more often, and that cotton that is all over my floor really needs picked up at this moment. but as i go to bed tonight, i am going to go to bed thanking God for his faithfulness. and i hope and pray that wherever you are whenever you read this you will pause and thank Him for his faithfulness as well.

Friday, October 8, 2010

well, it just has seemed to be one of those weeks where nothing goes how i want it to or expect it to. how frustrating...but, i am thankful for the ways God has shown up in the midst of disappointment and frustration.

this week at work, i've literally only seen like four clients, which is very abnormal. i'm going to go ahead and blame it on the full moon, though. i've spent ample hours in the office, and while i have been able to get my paperwork done and everything along those lines, it's also provided me with ample time to think and process life. now how well i am going to do with putting that into words, i'm not entirely sure, but i figured i might as well try at this point.

in my last post, i mentioned how much life has changed (and if i didn't, i meant to). and i'm realizing that life is continually changing. i heard this week that one of the only constant things in life is change (besides God of course). and how true that statement is and it resounded with me so much. over the past year and a half my life has been a whirlwind of changes, i won't mention them all, but i have constantly felt like once my feet get planted back on firm ground another change comes around and knocks the firm ground right from under me. and while i have learned and grown and changes in many good ways from all of them, that doesn't mean it's been easy. and i am so much grieving the past and the way things used to be even though i'm happy with the majority of things in my life right now. confusing? tell me about it...

but, as i've been realizing all of this, God has still been teaching me great things. but i have also been humbled at my foolishness of not trusting Him like i should. i have been humbled by my foolishness of trying to handle everything on my own, and i have been humbled at how i think i know so much but really know so little. and it has been in my humbled state that God has been able to comfort me, bring me peace, speak truth into my life, and remind me that even if i feel lonely, i'm never alone. and it has also been in this humbled state that God has broken me of my pride of playing "god" in the lives of others, and forcing me to recognize that i can minister to others, but i can't rescue them and that i have to let go of the "savior mentality". talk about being broken...

but beauty comes from brokenness, right?

and the beauty is starting to surface in my life. at least that's what it feels like to see, for the past two weeks in Bible study we've been studying Ephesians 3:20-21 (it's a part of the Faithful, Abundant and True Bible Study...) and it says "Now to Him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to Him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever, Amen." and it has been through these verses that i have come to some profound (or at least i think they are profound) conclusions.

you see, as i've been trying to control pretty much every aspect of my life i have forgotten that God can do immeasurably more than i could ask or imagine. how selfish of me. but here's what's stuck with me besides that...immeasurably more, what does that mean? immeasurably more means that God goes way beyond my way beyond. so whatever i ask for, God has the power to go way beyone anything i could expect or imagine. and it's my job to trust that He has the power to do that, but it's His job to decide whether or not He's going to do that. and just because i don't understand what that means right now, doesn't mean i'm never going to, but even if i don't ever find out what it means, it doesn't mean that He's not using it for Kingdom purposes. and it is that simple fact that i have to be ok with...and i'm learning to be ok with it, i'm not going to be perfect at it all the time, but i am learning, and i trust that God will continue moving in my life.

but anyway, i have also been recognizing that God uses unexpected people to bring joy to my life. maybe not unexpected, but people who don't realize they are doing what they are doing. take for instance last night, i was talking with one of the volleyball girls who has been a delight for me to get to know, and i mentioned India to her and she told me she had always wanted to do something like that. so of course, i told her she could come with me sometime, and we talked a little longer about it, and a little bit more in detail as the night went on, but what an encouragement she was to me at the age of 15 telling me that she wants to go help people in need and that she loves being involved in church. it excites me to think about how God is going to use her, and how thankful i am that God has brought her into my life.

anyway, enough of my ramblings.

Bless God today, my friends, Bless God.

Monday, September 20, 2010

well, it's been awhile, and a lot has changed. and, i'd say for the most part all of it is good. while change has never been something that has come easily for me, i have learned to adjust and i have tried my hardest to find joy in even the seemingly most frustrating times.

but in the midst of all of the frustrating things or hard changes, God's faithfulness has been revealed to me on so many different occassions. and for that i am grateful.

anyway. it's crazy to think about the fact that i have been at my job for a year. and...let me just tell you i have learned so much about God's grace and loving those who are often over looked. as i've built relationships with these kids and their parents with whom i work, i have come to a deeper understand of the importance of relationships and love. on some days, it comes very naturally for me to invest in my clients and for me to provide them with the support they need. but on other days, i truly have to depend on God's strength to allow me to get through the day so that i don't yell, "WHAT ARE YOU THINKING?!" at someone. regardless, the opportunities i have had to get to know people and hear their stories truly is humbling. sometimes it's frustrating that i am unable to share my faith with the people i work with like i would want to, but when i think about the reality that the people i am building relationships with are people who are often over looked by the church, i just have to pray and trust that God is using me to be His hands and feet to somehow, someway plant a seed in their hearts...

it's also crazy for me to think about the fact that i am married. yes, married. it's still very weird for me to introduce Daniel to someone as "my husband". or to hear him introduce me by saying, "this is my wife." weird. but, it's been so good to journey together through these last six weeks. sure, there are little things that drive both of us nuts. for example, the fact that i squeeze my toothpaste from the middle while he squeezes his from the end (we have separate tubes now), or that sometimes we forget to ask the other questions and end up telling the other what to do or what should be done (that never goes over well), or how about that i would rather watch TLC and he would rather watch the world news (guess we should have taken my grandma's advice and gotten more than one tv...), and the list could continue. but, in the midst of all of those things, it's been such a joy to laugh together and to seek the Lord's will for our lives together.

it was interesting, one night before we went to bed, we did one of our devotions together, and it talked about love. (fitting for marriage, i know, right?) but in the midst of it, the devotion asked us how we could love more like love is described in 1 Corinthians 13. i don't know about anyone else, but i'm not always patient, nor am i always kind. i sometime gets jealous, and sometimes i'm proud. a lot of the time i am rude (sarcasm gets the best of me...) and i can be pretty selfish. and i may not appear to be angry very often, but, i tend to keep that masked on the inside, so it probably happens more frequently than people realize. it can be hard for me to keep no record of wrongs, because i have such a vivid memory...and i guarantee the list could continue. but, all of that is to say, that i, without Christ, cannot love as we, as the Body of Christ, are called to love. now, this can be looked at one of two ways; disheartening or encouraging. and in this particular case i tend to lean to looking at the glass half full...i am encouraged knowing that through Christ i am able to love as He wants me to love. and it is key for me in my marriage to not depend on Daniel to teach me what the meaning of love is, but to know, understand, and grasp the fact that if i want to love Daniel, the people i work with, or Christ in the way i am called to, i must continue growing in my individual relationship with my Redeember. and what a privilege it has been to do that.

piggy backing off of that, i have realized over the course of the last few weeks how much i truly love building relationships with people. i feel like relationships are so fundamental to leading people to the Lord and fundamental in helping people grow closer to Him. while i spend the majority of my days building relationships with people, i felt like/feel like God is calling me to more outside of my workplace. i haven't quite figured out what all it entails yet, but i will say that i am excited for whatever it means.

and i guess that brings me to another change that has taken place in my life. a good change that has truly brought me so much joy. right after i got back from my honeymoon, i started helping with volleyball at my old high school. (yes, i swore when i graduated that i would never set foot back in that school, but since i coached 8th grade last year, i figured i had already broken that statement, so there was no harm in going back again.) unfortunately with my work schedule i was unable to commit to coaching my own team, and even more than that, unfortunately i am only able to go about 2-3 times a week, but on the days when i do get to go, it has been so much fun to start building relationships with these girls and to continue the relationships i had with my girls from last year. when i look at the girls on the team, it excites me to see their potential; not just on the volleyball court, but in regards to life in general. they have no idea what awaits them in the years ahead, and it truly is so fun to see them learn and grow. there's so much i could write about each one of the girls and even the coaches; about what they have taught me so far and how much i want to hear their stories about what makes into the beautiful women they are, but maybe i'll save that for another day, and in the mean time, i'll continue praying for each of them to recognize their abilities, talents, and gifts that they have been given.

in other news, which isn't new news, but still worth noting is how much my heart longs to be with my children in India. there truly isn't a day that goes by that i don't think about what they are doing, or how they are doing, or when i am going to get to hold them in my arms again. of course, i continue dreaming big about what the future may hold, regarding my role in the mission field, but i truly have no idea what it will look like. i know, though, that i must be obedient in the here and the now...and as difficult as that may be at times, i will continue trusting blindly that the Lord knows far better than i do about what my future holds or what He is calling me to next.

and as i wrap this jumbled mess up, i guess i want to simply remind anyone reading this that God is weaving your story perfectly to impact the lives of the people around you. i never imagined being where i am today, but i am so thankful for the story God has given me to share with everyone i come in contact with. i am overwhelmed with the blessing of being His chosen and His beloved...and may that be what i continue finding joy in for the rest of my life.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

i spent part of my night tonight at one of my dearest friend's houses holding her precious new baby. as i held the little guy in my arms, it was hard for me to believe that he's already here but beyond that, that she's old enough to have a kid. it seems like just yesterday i was standing up with her at her wedding, but i guess that was almost two years ago. but what an opportunity to celebrate joy. and how thankful i am to have journeyed through life with her this far and to be able to share in this with her and her husband as well.

and in the midst of all of that, as i was holding him and talking with her and her husband, i became overwhelmed with God's blessings. not just for new life, but for how good the God i serve is.

the God i serve has brought so many people into my life who have been consistent, supportive, and loving over the years. the God i serve just opened the door for me to go to India and spend time loving on my children there. the God i serve has given me a job (while sometimes stressful) i love. the God i serve has given me a more amazing family than i could ask for. the God i serve has brought an amazing man into my life with whom i will spend the rest of my life with. the God i serve demonstrates his power in the storms going on outside right now. the God i serve transcends distance barriers. the God i serve answers prayers. the God i serve still performs miracles. the God i serve reveals himself through scripture and through children's smiles and laughs. the God i serve brings me encouragement in the most unexpected ways. the God i serve has given me the Holy Spirit to walk with me through my days. the God i serve is intimate. the God i serve is sovereign. the God i serve is loving. the God i serve is unchanging.
i am so thankful.
and i am so blessed.
and i am so humbled.
that the God i serve in the midst of all of his goodness chooses to love a wretch like me.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

well, i've been an epic failure at keeping my blog updated. anyway, down to business.
since my last post, i feel like a lot of changes have continued to occur. such is the theme of life right now, i suppose. currently, i'm at the six week mark until i get married, and i just returned from india on Thursday. going to India meant taking my first vacation from my full time job, and while it was needed, two weeks was a long time to be gone and i have a feeling i'll be playing catch up for quite awhile there.

and in the midst of all the changes, i have been learning a lot about myself and a lot about this stage of life i find myself in. i feel like i've probably mentioned it before, but this stage of life is so uncertain. there are so many unknowns, and for those of you who know me well, know that i hate unknowns. but God has been faithful, and God has been continuing to show up in the times where i am feeling the most frantic. and for that i am forever grateful.
regardless, my time in india this year, proved once again to be nothing short of amazing. it's truly an undescribable feeling in regards to how much i felt at home when i stepped off of the airplane in the Delhi airport. the stares of the Indians we passed as we talked down the streets of Delhi really didn't even seem to bother me as much as they have in the past, bargaining with the shop keepers came naturally (i even talked my way into three free bracelets from a shop for us girls in the south. ha.), and it didn't even take any practice to be comfortable eating with my fingers again.

but the most amazing, undescribable feeling didn't come when i was staring at the taj mahal for the first time in my life, but when i was reunited with my beautiful, beloved children. feeling their fingers on my face, hands intertwined with mine, arms wrapped around my waist, and hearing them all exclaim "elizabeth sister!!" overwhelmed my heart with joy. and seeing my precious little nanthini peek her head around the corner and offer me a sheepish smile is a memory that will be forever etched in my mind and on my heart.

all my children have grown or changed in some way over the course of the last year, but that's expected. and when i told them i was getting married, the excitement was expressed all over their faces, and they asked if we could have a celebration in India. i told them of course, but i didn't have the heart to tell them i don't know when it will be. they asked for me to come back in august, but i told them i was just praying for the Lord to allow me to come back soon. they said they would join me in praying.

my week at the orphanage passed much too quickly, though. and it's hard to believe that literally just three days ago, i was able to hold them on my lap and wrap them in my arms, give them love pinches on their cheeks and laugh with the older girls about the nicknames they gave us american girls.

while i was there, God definitely showed he always does. take for example, when i found out right before bed on saturday night that i would be preaching on sunday morning. God showed up and gave me the words, i believe, he wanted me to share with the children at the orphanage. or take for example when the two little girls were being dropped off at the orphanage by their mother...seeing this was one of the most heartbreaking situations of my life. the littlest one screamed and cried for her mother as the staff member carried her down to the hostel and the mother walked away. the children were from a very poor family and they had no father. the mother was unable to take care of them. as i spent some time observing this little girl, she was very scared and shy at first, but by the end of my time there, i was carrying her in my arms along with her older sister and nanthini and she was smiling. it is my hope and prayer she will continue to thrive in the Christian environment there and that God will become very real to her and her sister as they come from a Hindu family. and not only that, but this little girl was one of the smallest, most malnourished little girls i've ever seen in my life. her legs were not even as big around as my arms and her ribs protruded from her chest. but, how thankful i am for the fact that she will not only be fed physically at the children's home, but also spiritually.

and one of my most favorite moments during my time in India came from a conversation with little Sejola. rebecca and i were sitting in the room of her hostel with her and one other girl and she was telling us about the pictures of jesus in the room. there were two pictures of jesus in the room but Sejola continued to insist there were three Jesus' in the room. she then proceeded to point to the pictures and then to her heart. and i asked her, "Sejola, is the third Jesus in your heart?" and with the biggest smile on her face, Sejola shook her head yes and said "Ama" which is tamil for yes. oh what Joy filled my heart then too.

being back in the states has not been an easy transition this time never is though. i miss my children, i miss the staff, i miss terry, jeeva, and little gerilynn, and i miss Helen. and this time, my best friend is still there for the next four weeks. so i miss her too.
but i am trying my hardest to find peace and joy in being back in the states as i am preparing for one of the biggest changes in my life. and I know that just as God has been faithful in all the little things before in my life that he will continue to be faithful in my life for all of always. and as i am continuing to find peace and joy in this, it is my prayer that God would show me what it looks like to let him have complete control over my life. and to trust that he knows far more of what i need then what i do. it's not an easy journey, but i know, in the will be well worth it, and i will be more of the woman God is calling me to be.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

as i sat in church on Sunday during the sharing time, i kept thinking to myself, if i were to stand up and share something, what would i even say? not because i feel like i have nothing to offer, but partially because there has been so much going on, i'm not sure how people in the church would respond.

would i start off by talking about my little client who talks about how Jesus makes her bad dreams go away? would i keep talking about her and saying, this little girl spent the first six years of her life in a home that was anything but Christian, but because of the foster parent's she's been living with for almost a year now, she knows who Jesus is. and would i stop there? or would i keep talking about her and how she told her parents she was going to pray before she ate her dinner or the next visit where she told them that when she came back to live with them she wanted to go to church?

would i start off by sharing about the foster parents who house this little girl who have not only poured their lives into this little girl but the many other kids who have been placed into their care? and would i say what the foster mom told me when i told her that this little girl prayed before she ate her dinner, when she said, "atleast we're making a difference in the most important part of her life." or would i say that because of my interactions with this foster mom, i want to be one, too.

would i start off by sharing about the indian family i met at a gas station in marion? would i tell them that this family is of the Sikh religion? would i tell them that when they found out i was going to india this summer gave me their family's contact information in case i had any problems while i was in their home country? and then would i be bold enough to say--would you be willing to do the same?

i cannot adequately explain how active the Holy Spirit has been in my life over the course of this year. and i cannot explain how thankful i am for that either. it's so interesting how much differently i feel like i view things, from praying for the seemingly simple things in life, to the convictions i've felt when i learned in my perspective class about how half of a penny out of every dollar is how much funds mission work in completely unreached areas.

all i can really say in the midst of all of this is that i am thankful the Lord has grabbed my heart. and i am continually thankful for the journey that he's continually taking me on despite being a weak vessel.

and with all of that said...i'm going to end this post with a song that completely sums up my heart that makes me smile every time i hear it by Leeland:

"You lived among the least of these, the weary and the weak.
And it would be a tragedy for me to turn away.
All my needs you have supplied. When I was dead, you gave me life.
So how could I not give it away so freely?
I'll follow you into the homes of the broken, follow you into the world.
Meet the needs of the poor and the needy, God, follow you into the world.
Use my hands, use my feet to make your Kingdom come.
To the corners of the earth, until your work is done.
Faith without works is dead, on the cross your blood was shed;
So how could we not give it away so freely?
I'll follow you into the homes of the broken, follow you into the world.
Meet the needs of the poor and the needy, God, follow you into the world.
And I'll give all myself, I'll give all myself, I'll give all myself to you.
I'll follow you into the homes of the broken, follow you into the world.
Meet the needs fo the poor and the needy, God, follow you into the world..."

Friday, March 26, 2010

over the past few months, i've really tried to work on looking for ways the Holy Spirit is moving when i am at work. you see, the reality of it is, i can't talk about my faith with my clients unless they bring it up, and even then, i can't push it on them. however, i firmly believe that the work that i am doing is my "mission field" for the time being. so it's been quite the challenge to see how those two things can tie together.

regardless, my prayer has been that the Lord would give me opportunities to witness to my client's, and if i'm not going to be able to use words, i pray that the Lord would allow me to be a light in the darkness to my client's. and it's quite interesting to see the ways he has answered my prayers...
one of my client's noticed my purse sitting on the floor of my car and complimented me on it, and i told her thanks and that my dad got it for me from Thailand. our conversation continued and she asked what my dad did, and i was able to tell her that essentially my dad was a missionary. she then proceeded to tell me about how she might start going to a church and that the pastor had come to meet her at her house when she was visiting with her children so he was going to come back. i told her that it might be a good change for her and that she would hopefully find a support system there for her and her children when she gets them back.
and another one of my client's was talking to me about going to church and that they were learning about the end times at her church. i asked her what they were teaching on the end times and she proceeded to talk to me about how the earthquakes and stuff happening around the world are signs that the end times are coming. i asked her what else they had taught her would happen before Jesus came back and she told me some other things, but my heart broke because she didn't understand that before Jesus can come back every tribe, tongue, and nation has to hear the Gospel. it was during this conversation that i took the opportunity to pray that the Lord would give her a deeper sense of understanding of how long, wide, and deep his love is for her and all the people who haven't even heard of him.
and yet one of my favorite opportunities the Lord has given me when i think about how the Lord has answered this prayer is with my precious seven year old. as i was driving this little girl back to her foster home after a visit, i had the radio on and she exclaimed from the backseat that she knew that song from church. i asked her if she enjoyed church and she told me that she did, and that she enjoyed singing songs. a few visits later, this same little girl and i were talking about how she had gotten her tantrums and accidents that she had been having to stop and she told me that she "prayed to Jesus." And when i asked her what she said to Jesus, she replied with complete, childlike faith, "I just asked him to make them stop, and he did!!" and then today, when i saw her, she told me that she didn't have to pray to Jesus anymore because he had made her bad dreams stop, but then went on to say that she knew if she didn't pray she was going to go to the "bad place, down there." and in the simplest terms i could put it, i told her that she could talk to Jesus anytime she wanted even if she wasn't having bad dreams. she could talk to Jesus if she wanted even when she was having good dreams. and i could see her smile in my rearview mirror. and then, i asked her if she knew what she needed to do so that she didn't go to the "bad place", and she told me that she needed to be good. and i simply looked at her and smiled, and said, "you know sweetheart, it makes Jesus very happy when you listen to people who you know you're suppose to and you have good behavior, but that isn't how you get to heaven. you get to heaven by asking Jesus to live in your heart." it was then that her eyes lit up, and she said, "well that's where He already lives!!"
what a privilege it is to be in the line of work i am in. what a privilege it is to become so involved in people's lives even when it's frustrating. and what a privilege it is to be entrusted with so much.
there are opportunities all around us to witness and speak truth into people's lives.
if you would have asked me if i would have thought God would answer my prayer in the way that he has, i guarantee you i would have told you no. but not only has he given me the opportunities mentioned above, he's given me opportunities to share with many of my client's that i'm saving myself for marriage, that i will not move in with my fiance before we get married, that i don't drink, that i don't smoke, and that i enjoy my life to the full. and you wouldn't believe how many of them don't believe me and often will argue with me that i'm lying to them. but all i can do is trust that eventually they will come to the realization that i would never lie to them about that.
i'm so thankful i serve such a faithful God who chooses to use me time and time again despite my inadequacies. and while i have no idea the impact i'm having on the majority of my client's, i'm beyond thankful i can entrust them back to the Lord's care and know that they are safe in his hands.

Monday, March 22, 2010

isn't it simply wonderful how the Lord breaks us of our selfishness to show us that his plans are far bigger and better than what we can imagine?

ashamedly i must admit that God broke me of my selfishness last week over an area that i never, not even in my wildest imagination, pictured myself being selfish in.

you see, God had opened the door for me to go back to india for a period of time time summer, but suffice it to say, i was trying to work off of my own agenda, and ended up coming up with just about every excuse in the book to not go. and then God reminded me of my prayer: "God, if this is not what you want for me to do this summer, please just shut the door." and as i look back on it, i can see that it was me who was trying to shut the door because i know how heart breaking it's going to be to only be at the orphanage for a few days rather than a month or six weeks. but the thought of holding Nanthini in my arms as she jabbers to me in tamil, and hearing sweet Sathitya's laugh, and seeing Abirami's, Jeyabala's, Perimila's, Soundarya's, Rathika's, Saranya's, Sasi Kala's smiles reminded me of why my heart is where it is.

so with all of that to say...i'm looking forward to this unexpected, yet perfect detour. and what a blessing to know that there is no better place than in the Will and Hand of the one i call Abba.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

one year ago today, my life was altered. the man who has impacted my life the most, other than my dad, went home to be with the Lord. and it's still interesting to me that he had that much of an impact on my life when i only spent six weeks with him.

Johnson truly taught me so much about sacrifice and what leaving a legacy can look like. this man was in line to become a Bishop in India. a Bishop in India is a rather large deal...but he gave this up to start the orphanage where i have spent the last two summers. he started off the orphanage on a dirt floor under a thatched roof with just a few kids who were in need. he shared multiple times that snakes fell from ceiling and all kinds of heart wrenching stories that involved kids that came to live with him and his wife as this newly founded children's home.

but Johnson shared more than his stories with me. Johnson shared his heart. Johnson shared his heart with me by the stories he shared, the jokes he cracked, the way he protected me from the lizards and other various insects, through his example of studying the Word every morning, through him singing different hymns, the way he loved the children at the orphanage, through his willingness to laugh with me, and by the way he loved me.

it still absolutely breaks my heart to know that Johnson, my beloved Thattha, is no longer here on the earth. it breaks my heart to know that he won't be at my wedding, and it breaks my heart that he isn't there with the children every day.

but i continue to be thankful for the impact Johnson had on my life and so many others throughout the course of his lifetime. Johnson allowed the Lord to take him as an ordinary man and mold him into an extraordinary man who lived a life of sacrifice, obedience, faithfulness, patience, gentleness, and love.

what an example.

what a privilege to have known him.

what a blessing it will be to be able to tell my children stories about him someday.

what an honor to have been impacted by him.

and what a joyful reunification it will be when we are walking on the streets of gold together, laughing at his jokes as his belly jiggles, sipping on indian coffee while eating biscuits, and worshipping our Lord and Savior.

and i say that, because i, too, have faith that he and i will meet again.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

as i sit in my living room this afternoon, i am thankful for the reality that my laundry is in the washing machine, my room is semi clean, and i have a moment to breathe. it's the simple things that i'm continuing to learn to appreciate.

life over the past month and a half has flown by. i can hardly believe that february is half over. and i feel like some big things have happened.

on january 8th, daniel asked for my hand in marriage. and it really couldn't have been more perfect. although he made me tromp through the snow and my feet got really wet and cold, being by the lake with snow starting to fall and him asking me to marry him couldn't have been more perfect. and he even arranged for my best friend to be waiting for me at my house when we returned.
and now the wedding date has been set, july 31, and plans have begun to fall in place. amidst the wedding planning though, i've also started taking a class called perspectives on the world christian movement on tuesday nights, carrying a full caseload with my job, continuing to learn how to balance friends, family, and my now fiance, and feel like i'm in the process of learning so much.
this class that i am taking on tuesday nights i've been hearing about since i was in high school since it's the class that completely transformed my dad's thinking and what opened the door for him to become involved in mission work. the past four classes have continued to develop my passion for mission work and have really challenged my thinking about why missions exist.

beyond missions existing because it's a mandate that has come from Christ, we've talked in class about how missions exists because worship doesn't. and if you think about it, it's so true. mission work exists because the ultimate goal is for every tribe, tongue, and nation to hear the gospel so that they can worship the one true God.

in our culture i think it's so easy to get away from the fact of worshipping Christ and remembering that everything we do should bring God glory. because that's what life is all about; glorifying Christ.

and as i've had to face these truths i've really struggled with how i am doing that in my work place and with my clients. i go to people's houses, i listen to their stories, i teach them skills they can use to equip them to live better lives (or so i hope), and i play a rather active role in their lives for a period of time. and that so much resembles Jesus's ministry when he was living. He went to people, he mentored people, he taught people, and he played a rather active role in people's lives physically when he was living.
but i've struggled with how i can show Christ better to my clients. i've struggled with how my life looks different than other non-christians around me. i've struggled with trying to figure out if people can see a difference in me and if they can't, what i need to do different. i've struggled with knowing that i haven't verbally shared the Gospel with someone in quite some time even though i guarantee i see people on a daily basis who aren't Christians. and i'm still trying to process through how to handle all of that.
my best friend and i are reading through a book right now by Francis Chan. it's called Forgotten God. and it's been a book that has completely transformed my thinking, and if i'm allowed to speak for her, i would say hers too. but this book is all about the Holy Spirit and about how as Christians we tend to forget of how active of a part He plays in our lives.
so as we've been reading through this book we've engaged in many conversations about how we want our lives to exemplify we have the Holy Spirit living within us and how we're on a journey to understand more of what that looks like. and how this intentionality of discovering Him doesn't happen over night, but that the journey will be well worth it.

and that's the journey i'm on right now. because, i think that if i can come to an understanding of what it looks like to be more sensitive to the Holy Spirit, i will bring God more glory with hopes of playing just a little part of expanding His Kingdom if He chooses to use me in that manner.