Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Facing the Pain

Pain isn't something glamorous to talk about. Most people spend their lives trying to avoid pain. I mean, it's human nature right? We don't want to deal, so we avoid. There are times when physical pain is unavoidable, times when it can become unbearable. It is in physical pain that we learn to listen to our bodies and seek out help. When we break a bone, we have a doctor set and cast it and we have people help with the mundane chores of life. This pain is bold, it is tangible and, in many cases, it is fixable.

But what about the unseen pain?

Stepping into others pain is quite different. In order for me to truly step into anothers' pain I would have to give up something I love very much. I would have to forgo a part of my life that keeps me comfortable. I have to change some things, alter my life, rework my schedule, redefine my priorities...

In order to step into anothers' pain, I must be willing to see past my own....

I have spent the past 30+ years staring at my own nose. I have kept my focus on me for as long as I can remember. It was always about "ME", the alpha dog in my world. When I was young, I focused on what course of studies would make "me" a better person. When I married, I wanted my husband to make "me" feel worthy, pretty, loved and special. When I had children, I wanted their actions to reflect positively upon "me". When I began training clients, I took every gain, every quit, every failed attempt as a direct attack against "me" and my skills. Even in searching for my calling and my ministry, the focus was all "me". I wanted a skill that would make others like "me", see "me" in a good light, and want to be with "me". This kind of life is exhausting.

Seeing the forest through the trees.

So, how did I get past my own nose? Well, at first I tried to fix it myself. I came up with a plan and worked fervently to implement it. I tried to make nice, give away things and skills, small talk, etc. Well, none of that worked because it was still ME. It was my plan, my path, my way of thinking. The more I struggled and the more I planned, the more removed I began to feel. I would jump at the chance to give things away (f I had a dollar for every auction item I ever gave out...) and offer free advice to people. I racked my brain for blog posts that would help and I poured my heart into helping those who asked...all the while knowing full-well that they would one day return the favor. Or so I thought....

My mind was always fixed on the one person who I thought could benefit the most: ME. Even in doing good, I was focused on my benefit. It took control being forcibly taken from me for my focus to change.

It took a major breakdown to cause a major breakthrough.....

You likely already know I flew to Moldova with a team of talented people to help the community there. If not, scroll back a bit :). Well, I had felt that I was called to teach self-defense to these girls. Upon landing in a new day and hitting the ground running, I was greeted with several uninvited circumstances. I could not for my life get the Wi-Fi to work (tragic, first-world problem of the year!) and therefore could not reach my husband. Self defense was nowhere on the agenda. Finally, our room smelled a bit like the worst way.

Well, I did what I am best at in these situations: I a toddler. I sat on the floor of the stinky bathroom, cursing the calling to this trip and begging God to just let Satan win this one. True story, though I am shamed to admit it. I wanted to go home. Home was comfortable...and smelled better. Can you imagine? I quit! Just up and quit, like it was nothing.

Luckily, prayer works even if I stop. Through the night God worked on my rigid heart. It was my turn to suck it up. I was there for a reason, even if it wasn't what I thought. So, I went about my business with my eyes glued to my nose. During the crochet session, something miraculous happened. Now, I cannot crotchet at all (see the proof below), but as I began to work on my "wash rag" I just kept going. It looked as though a 2 year old had made it, but I was OK. There were giggles and fun poking, but I was OK. This was so not my comfort zone, but I was OK.....

Where the beauty comes in.

It was in this moment, as I bonded with girls who did not speak the same language as me that my eyes began to drift past my own nose. Though my Wi-Fi was down, I could plainly see what was going on in the world. I saw pain beginning to heal by the kindness shared. We weren't building houses or planting gardens, we were watering souls instead of soil. There was a beauty here I cannot quite explain. It transcended all the things I thought were beautiful before. It was the beauty that God sees in His people. This is why He does not give up on us. He sees what He has made and He sees what can be done through us...if only we are willing.

So, the final question lies with you.

What have you given up on? Have you stopped helping others because you are too enthralled by your own nose? Do you find yourself stuck in your own circumstances? Do you bury your head in the misguided belief that somebody else will fix it? Do you rely on old excuses like being too busy? What has happened to your passion? And what are you willing to do to find it?

Can you let go of that which you find so comfortable? Are you willing to stand face to face with change? Or.....will you simply let the world keep spinning and pay the price at the final judgement?
How will you be remembered?

For me, I hope a date doesn't even need to be told. The time I spend here is of little consequence in eternity.....but the effort I put forth will yield great gains.

What are you building?

By the way, my handywork is not for sale :)

Monday, February 25, 2013

The BIG Easy

"Why can't life just be easy?"
I have uttered this question many times and heard it escape the lips of even the most devout Bible study girl. Why is it that life seems so difficult at certain times? Why was life not built with an escape hatch of sorts? Why don't we have an easy button?
If I were to give you the Biblical answer, I would state this: You DO have an easy's called the Bible. The problem I have with giving that answer is that I fall into the category of people who shamelessly worry first and seek God's Word second...or last. It's a terrible habit formed from years of practice. Instead of throwing on God's armor, I tend to run to my closet for my favorite shoes. If they are unavailable I tend to think I should buy more. You know, a girl can conquer anything with the right pair of shoes right?
If I am well aware that self sufficiency will get me nowhere, WHY OH WHY do I continue to rely on me? This takes me back to a time in my teens when I was distraught because I did not have a steady boyfriend. Don't snicker, this is a serious matter to a 17 year old! I mean, if nobody wanted to commit then, how on earth would I not end up and old maid?!?!? Ahem, composer.... Around this time we had also found out that my mom had cancer. I would ready my Bible daily and pray over her. One day as we were driving through town I lamented to my mom about my current lack of true love. My mom said something to me that rocked my world at the time: "Why is it that you find no trouble putting my life in God's hands, but you think He is ill-equipped to handle your love life?" That mom and her always bit my butt.
Why couldn't I give everything up to God? I mean, after all, He is in control. Any thoughts of control we may have over a situation are ill-conceived at best. I'm not even in control of waking up in the morning or digesting my food! I live on the faith that what I put in my mouth will go down the hatch undisturbed and nourish my body with everything it needs. So, why do I fool myself into thinking I have control over anything? The real EASY button is HIM. My faith, in Him = BOOM! Success!
The funny thing is that I have actually witnessed this time and time again when God had me in a situation where all I could do is give up my self-perceived control and throw Him the problem. I have realized over and over again that He is much better at life than I am. For that reason the smart thing to do is simply give Him the reigns daily. If I weren't so stubborn I probably would. Time after time, I jerk control of the reigns and He is patient to give me just enough slack. Does He want to see me fail? No. Does it bring Him joy when I fall on my face? Absolutely not. He is true and sure to scoop me up, wipe the mud off of me and set my feet back on solid ground time and time again.
Is it easy giving Him control? No. Sometimes His ways make no sense. I gave up my self-perceived control of my mothers health and she died. I gave up my self perceived control over money and we became broke. I gave up my self perceived control over my baby and she was taken before she took her first breath. Did I understand? No. Did I deal? Not like a mature adult. What I learned later was this: I prayed for healing over my mother.....She is now no longer in pain and she can hurt no more. If that isn't healing I don't know what is. I prayed for our finances to grow. In stripping us of our material wants God showed me that everything He has blessed us with is His. We learned to handle money in a Godly way. I prayed for another child and God allowed to the dream to come to fruition, then fall. He has replaced that dream with the dream of helping far more than one child and gifted me the talent and resources to help many.
I may not always understand His ways, for they are far beyond me. I do know that even when it doesn't seem easy, His ways are better and they bring about more joy and peace than I could ever conjure on my own.
Question of the day: What are you unwilling to give up control over? What steps can you take towards allowing God to lighten your load?

Thursday, February 21, 2013

It Should Stay This Simple....

Welcome to my family!

I know I tend to stay all-business here, BUT I am going to take this time to brag a bit....and bring home an important point. Above is my sweet daughter Debbie (named after my sweet mother) at about 7 years old. Yesterday, she flat out honest to goodness found her life's purpose.

What a difference a few years can make....

Here's the basics: yesterday I was blogging and she quipped "Mom, I think I want a blog." This was amazing in and of itself as she has witnessed first hand the I-DON'T-KNOW-WHAT-TO-WRITE-ABOUT freak out :). At any rate, I told her that was lovely and I'd talk to her dad. As the day wore on, she kept talking about her blog. She said it would be perfect for young girls around 3rd grade and up as she wanted to teach them from her mistakes. She wants to teach them that it is OK to stand up for yourself when being bullied instead of just going to the bathroom to cry. Mind you, I knew she was being bullied in school, but the crying in the bathroom was news to me. She may look like her Daddy, but she is her mothers life all over!

Her mission was clear: to help all girls come to know that they are made special in the eyes of God. She wants people to accept themselves for how they are made, honor their lives and bodies, and hopefully find their purpose as well. She has it figured out.

The most moving thing (OK, honestly the MOST moving was that she obviously wants to be like me.....well, sort of) was that she felt a tug at her heart and dove right in. How many times do we old farts (yeah, I SAID IT!) over think what God is calling us to do? How many times have I felt impassioned only to start putting my own thoughts all in the way. Nine out of ten times Satan doesn't even have to try to stop me because I stop myself frankly. Old people do that.....stop too much :)

What holds us back? Unbelief. Fear of failing. Fear of succeeding. Fear of too much on our plate. Fear that we cannot do it all. Fear. Period.

It's time to realize that fear has no place in life. There really is very little we can control anyways, so fear about a lack of control is justr plain bonkers. God states in His Word that if we have faith, no mountain formed against us will stand! How many times have I looked at an anthill and gotten all worked up? Far too many. And you know what? WE can't do it all, but God is not looking for those who can. He seeks those who are willing to answer the call.


This kid inspires me. She makes me want to be better. She makes me want to believe that I can be better, that I'm not burnt out and that I am nowhere through trying. I always thought I had to struggle my way through, just trying to change the world. My focus changed a little over a year ago. I began to focus on what God had given me and pour my heart into growing children who could pick out the voice of God in their life. How did I do this? I am transparent with them and deeply honest. I tell them my struggles and ask for prayer. Before committing to travel to Chisinau, Moldova, my 13 year old son prayed over me. THIS is the generation that CAN change the course of a nation (or 2 or 3) if my generation will learn to look beyond our own noses.

Yes, I am delighted in both of my kids. And I am blessed to have a Godly, supportive man by my side (he's pretty cute too!). This is my life. This is my calling. I will not put God on hold for me to weigh my options anymore. This is the time to stand. Free of fear, free indeed.

By the way, I've totally come to grips with the fact that my daughters blog will be more popular than both of mine :) I only ask she gives me a shout out every once in a while!

Show some love!

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Short on Time, Sleep and Faith

Where do you go for advice on your health? Do you head to popular magazines? Perhaps you choose to take Dr. Oz's advice? Or maybe you like to follow celebrities crazy pound dropping diets? Or, most popular, do you just Google it?

Or do you know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and that you are not your own? For you have been bought with a price: therefore, glorify God in your body.
1 Corinthians 6:19-20

We are placed in charge of only a handful of things in life really. Our health is one of these things. Our daily choices and decades of habits can lead to ill health. In the midst of sleepless nights and sugar induced mood swings, we can find ourselves lacking in faith as well.

The human body is far from perfect. There are flaws that must pay attention to throughout the course of life. Just as we can work out too little, we can also overdo it. Late nights and stress eating can pack on more than just pounds. It is important that we take responsibility for our overall health. Easy things we can begin to implement into our lives are:
  • Move everyday. Whether it's a walk, a run or class, give your body the gift of movement.
  • Drink your water. Over 80% of people walk around in a state of dehydration, which is responsible for chronic fatigue and headaches. Drink up the good stuff!
  • Get enough sleep. Although 8 hours is said to be ideal, you must determine what works best for you. How do you know if you're getting enough sleep? You should be able to wake up in the morning without hitting snooze.
  • Power down. Too much computer and TV time leaves the CNS overstimulated, making quality sleep difficult. Try to turn electronics off 1 hour prior to going to sleep and spend 1 day per week going tech free.
  • Eat a healthy, balanced diet. Just like exercise, we can go too lose or too strict with our diet. Make sure you focus on the quality of nutrients daily AND enjoy your treats in moderation. Deprivation will only lead to binge eating and have even been linked to health problems later in life.
  • Be social. I'm not talking about Facebook here. recent studies show that those who actively engage in social encounters (such as lunch with a friend, small groups, double dates) avoid many of the diseases we face, such as heart disease and even stroke.
  • Be spiritually fit as well. Engage in your church, read your Bible, join a matter what you do, do it to improve your spiritual fitness.
There are a few ways you can start to improve your overall health. The better your health, the more potent you will be in life. You'll find life takes on a new excitement when you take on an interest.

And if you need a little motivation to get your healthy lifestyle underway, check out my sister site devoted to health and fitness:

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Is it worth the fight?

And Jacob was left alone, and a Man wrestled with him until day break. And when [the Man] saw that He did not prevail against [Jacob], He touched the hollow of his thigh; and Jacob's thigh was put out of joint as he wrestled with Him. Then He said, Let Me go, for day is breaking. But [Jacob] said, I will not let you go unless you declare a blessing upon me."       Genesis 32:24-26

I have to admit something to you.....I feel extremely blessed. Now, don't roll your eyes and move to the next post. This is going to help YOU. How can my being blessed help you? I'm glad you asked :)

Over the course of the past several weeks I have come up against an opposition I know far too well...
You see, in the world of fitness and weight loss, there are those who "get it" and do the work related to the results, only to be hated by those who haven't quite gotten there yet. I was the hater, then I became the hated. That same opposition crosses over to many other sides of life it seems....even purpose and ministry.

Last Summer, I wrote down 2 words in my prayer journal that would completely and utterly change the very fabric and course of my life: USE ME. Two seemingly simple words meant to imply that I was wandering around the globe feeling useless. I wrote them again and again in my journal. My prayer to be used began to take shape into an obsession to find out how God wanted to use me. I woke at 4 a.m. every morning to immerse myself in God's Word and find my use. I still do, honestly. Is it convenient? NO, but God doesn't factor in convenience when He is building character...

Over a few months my 2 words began to show up in my daily readings and devotionals. When I say I got obsessed, I am not joking. I was reading my Bible daily and compounded that with daily readings in the concordance as well as Christian Living Books and MP3 downloads of sermons and Bible studies. With all that going on you would think I would have little time for anything else! God makes a way though. I signed up for a writers conference, totally thinking I was going to pitch a book (and, in essence, make millions....). God ordained a different plan.

The conference did not settle with me so well. Was it the actual conference? I don't think so. I think God had to steer me. And honey, He has to take the bull-headed by the horns when it comes to me! While wandering the halls looking for a class (amongst the unfriendly conference my mind) I met a nice man named Tom Davis. I had actually signed up for his class, Writing from your Passion. I mean, if God was calling me to be a millionaire writer I had better have passion for it! At any rate, in the class he mentioned Children's Hope Chest Ministries very briefly. I  could not shake that from my mind.... I guess I have an obsessive personality.

Well, the rest is history in the making and you can always flip through previous posts to see how I ended up across the globe and bitten by the missionary bug. For now, I want to turn the focus back to the here and now. God called me to a specific ministry: sex trafficking and human exploitation. It's about as pretty as it sounds people. The thing is, most people meet this with an almost disgusted look. OK, I will admit that I kind of dig it secretly. I mean, what better conversational piece than "What do you do?"...."Oh, I travel the globe teaching self defense to victims of sex trafficking and human exploitation." NOW, the really cool part comes after that! "That's...interesting. Why do you do it?"....ahem "Because God told me too and I have been called to obey." Door, opened.

The weird part is that I actually get a much warmer response from strangers and professed non-Christians than I do in my own space. Why? Heck if I know! All I really know is that I have a choice here: I can choose to get all down in the dumps, OR I can obey. It has been my experience that I save myself trouble and heartache when I obey promptly. So what's the deal with the Christians in my circle? Well, what I do can be viewed as weird I suppose. OK, I don't suppose, I know it. Do you know how I know it? Because I wrestled with God about it. When He laid it on my heart to use the very thing He had put inside my passionate little innards....I wanted to QUIT. I was mad that He would call me to do something so out of the box. I had kind of hoped He would call me to do something everybody could get on board with you know? Yeah, I have issues, you should know that by now. I wanted human validation!!!! What a waste of time...

If it's not simply the fact that my calling is a bit weird (by the way, embrace the weird!!!), then I am met with an anger about the fact that I know my calling. The phrase "Ugh, I wish THAT would happen to me..." slips from many lips. I'm thinking, "Really?!?! You do? Cause I'm going to Africa....which is where a lot of people pray they don't get sent right?" :) Why did I receive my calling when others are still left wondering? OK, so you know I don't know everything.....sorry to burst that bubble.....but I do have some insight here:

  • I wrestled for my calling. I wanted to be used by God so badly that I couldn't get enough of HIM! That should ultimately be our goal right? I had this ache to find what I was supposed to be working for, eating for, breathing for.....and I SEARCHED for it. I did the work required.
  • I let go of some things that I was holding on to. My prayer was, and still is, very simple....Lord, please show me the things that are getting in the way of my work for You. If it comes between me and You, OR has the potential to, help me weed it out of my life. If we are holding on to things that are between us and our calling, we'll never see it!
  • I opened myself up to the new. You know, when I first spoke with Wil at Hope Chest I told him directly, "I don't do well with babies, but if that's where God wants me, let's go." All I knew about CHC was that they partnered with orphanages. God, fortunately, knew more.
  • I prayed..... These were not short and sweet prayers. I wept most days just fighting to see why I was here. When most of your life is spent thinking you shouldn't be here, you can get a little dramatic when you realize you should! I couldn't get it off my mind and I wouldn't let foolish thoughts invade that space. I kept a journal (still do) so I could monitor my thoughts and prayers. I wanted to know, I had to know, I fought to know.
Now, we have established that I am not perfect by now I'm sure...but if you want to truly know your calling I suggest you ASK the ONE Who gave it to you. Stop asking your friends, spouse, kids and church. ASK GOD! He knows! And if it happens to be a little out of the box, remember, He equipped you for this purpose. As long as I set my heart right before Him and follow His ways, I need NO other validation....He is my Rock, my Savior, my Companion, my All....and He wants to show you your purpose too. Is it worth the fight to know?

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Be Willing to Be Used

I live in a culture where being used is one of the worst possible things that can happen to you. If you feel as though you are being used in a relationship, that relationship is sure to end. If we feel as though we are being used in business (somebody ALWAYS wants something for nothing!), we put certain bylaws and regulations in place to avoid it. So, when dealing with a phrase that has such negative connotations, why is it that I cannot wait to tell you about the good stuff?

When was the last time you were willingly used? When was the last time you gave something of yourself expecting absolutely NOTHING in return? When was the last time thoughts of your comfort were the last thing on your mind? Yeah, we all suffer from a degree of self inflicted pre-imptive selfishness. You can call it self-perseverance.....but God calls it sin.

Sometimes, NOT doing what you should do is just as bad (if not worse) than blatantly doing something you know you shouldn't do. Are you confused yet? Hang in there, we'll get through this together. there is a Biblical truth that should really be tattooed across our foreheads. Backwards, so we can read it every time we look in the mirror. God is more concerned about our character than He is about our comfort. Let that sink in.....and before you run to the nearest tattoo parlor, maybe you can just place some sticky notes on the mirror.

We get it all mixed up for most of our lives. Is God a loving God? You bet! In fact, He loves me (and you) more than I can even fathom. Am I a loving mom? Yes, but on my best days my love fails in comparison to the creator of all love. Do I avoid disciplining my children in favor of their comfort? NO. In fact, I think avoidance of discipline is what is driving this nation straight down, but that's another post. I discipline (not beat, haters) my children to help them grow in character.

Last night I had to have a firm talk with my daughter about responsibility. Correct me if I'm wrong, but by 11 years old you should know NOT to lay your Kindle down beside the tub and then commence to splash ALL of the water out of the tub? I did not yell or spank. As a matter of fact, both of my children outgrew spanking some time ago...the hardest part of parenting is when the discipline really has to be thoroughly thought out. I simply sat her down and explained the fact that she MUST learn responsibility to go anywhere in life. Mom is not always going to pick up your Kindle people! At some point, we have to grow up and take the responsibility of actually living.

Now, God loves me far more than I love my daughter, that is a truth. He has to use circumstances to grow my character worthy of the calling He has given me. In order for a character growth to truly take place, I must be willing to be used. I have to be willing to face the fire. More often than not, I'll rub 2 sticks together with all my might and once the blaze starts going I scream "Why are you doing this to me?!?!?" Is that just me? We blame Him for our own poop we get into. Yes, I said poop. We are quick to point out when He "wasn't there for us", yet we struggle to find the last time we set aside ALL selfish desires to be used for His purpose. We struggle with growth...

Perhaps you do give. Maybe you even work in the church. Heck, you might even let babies barf all over you every Sunday and may God truly bless you for that....but have you allowed yourself to be turned inside out for Him? Have you let go of where you find comfort and solace to follow Him alone? Some of us find comfort in our work. Some in our homes. Some in our spouses. I wasn't afforded the comfort of my family being with me on my first mission trip. As a matter of fact, I couldn't even talk with them most of the time I was gone. God needed that to happen to get my undivided attention. And it was in these moments that I clearly heard "I've put up with you for 35 years...your time is now. Suck it up, we have work to do". OK, so it may not have been those exact words, but I do know He speaks in ways we understand! And I understand I have been a pain in the butt from day1. I am selfish, I am weak in Spirit, I am angry....but through HIM I am made clean. All it takes is a willingness.

What has He put on your heart? Does it scare the poop out of you? OK, I had to use the word again, just to keep with the theme :) Seriously, DOES IT SCARE YOU? Are you trying to get it off your mind because just the thought makes you uncomfortable? Well child, that is your calling.....Grow up and grow into it. I have said this before in talks, but it needs repeating now:

Death does not scare me. What scares me is facing my loving Father in Heaven, the ONE Who gave His Only Son to save my sorry butt.....and he points to a mountain of opportunity and talent and asks "Why did you refuse to use what I gave you?'

What are you refusing today? Let go of self-perceived control, and BTW: it works best if you do this DAILY. Let God take you down the path He has already carved. Will it be easy? I pray not. Will it be worth it? More than you will ever know here on earth.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Dealing with the Aftershock

It has been 2 whole weeks since my feet were planted in the snow graced streets of Chisinau, Moldova. I was there with a team from Children's Hope Chest working with the Beginning of Life staff. My world has been sufficiently rocked and my bubble inadvertently popped.....and I couldn't be happier.

One thing that I was not warned about were the aftershocks of such a trip. In the case of such an event as an earthquake, there are usually marked moments called aftershocks. Scientists say that normally the bigger the quake, the bigger the aftershocks. Aftershocks can last for days following a life altering earth quake and can often bring about challenges and change in and of themselves. After such a life altering trip as this one, I have been experiencing aftershocks.

The funniest thing is that after spending time among people who have little to nothing....I want to move there and live that life as well. Here, we can get incredibly wrapped up on being wrapped up. People always talk about the "next big thing". We always discuss the next step to our career, the next step to our goals, the next big diet, TV show, blog, video, etc. It is overwhelming on the best of days. Our lives are packed full of "stuff". Once we get one thing, the newer, better version is already out. It seems as though we can hardly keep up in life, and therefore we are left feeling bogged down. It can be easy to just get tired....

Once my husband politely informed me that we could not move to Moldova just yet (something about the commute being too long...) I began to simply miss the people. I miss the laughs of the young ladies I met and I really do miss that Moldovan sense of humor (sarcasm knows no language barrier). I almost fell into a depression upon my return home. By the way, this can be extremely hard on the one left behind. I am very fortunate to have a husband that supports what I do AND maintains a very open dialogue when things are not working. Although I have all the love I could ever need here, I longed to return. Perhaps I just felt that I wasn't finished yet....

So, how does one handle these aftershocks? Well, I think preparation is key. I certainly do not want to press forward so fast that I get all caught up in life again and forget what I am supposed to be striving towards. I do, however, believe that I must prepare for these moments of bold faced depression. I have a tendency to allow depression to sink in so deep it hurts. Now, I look it in the eye and call it out. What good will I do the sweet people of Moldova if I lament not being there? None. What will I change if I can only think about what I miss? Nothing. How will I grow if I can only think about the past? I won't.

The best news is that I am not finished yet. I am going back to Chisinau, this time to stay on for a longer period. I will be bringing tools and education for BOL to utilize in their existing programs. I'll also be bringing a few new the word "y'all". Watch out Europe... LOL! I will also be traveling to Ethiopia this Summer for an even bigger adventure. best part about that trip is my son will be working alongside me. It makes my heart burst at the thought. He will be 14 and I can tell you now that through what he has learned already about cultures and trafficking he has a respect for women like I have NEVER seen.

So, if you choose to take a trip such as mine, be prepared for the aftershocks. Welcome them as they too are meant to bring change in your life. Prepare your heart with God's Word and stay on the course He has set. Obey and walk in pure, unadulterated faith....for He is true to His word. Always.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Along the Path to Friendship

These past 2 weeks have been an accumulation of emotion, elation, determination and friends. I entered into the world of missions a loner, and honestly...I liked it that way. On my own I was responsible for no one else but me. That way if things weren't what I expected, well that would be that. God had different plans for my life these past weeks though.

A funny fact about me is that I really enjoy being alone. I mean, I own a business for the sheer fact that I do not like working for/with people! I don't do meetings and I honestly do prefer text and email over phone calls and face-to-face. I have never been accused of being a socialite. Now, I can behave myself in social occasions and I do clean up well :), but I prefer the solitude of my own office and gym as opposed to the hustle and bustle of the outside world. My husband is well aware of all these facts, so when I came to him with the call to travel around the world...with people I don't even know...he knew it wasn't my idea.

God requires one thing from us: OBEDIENCE. It seems like such a small word for what it actually implies. I mean, we get obedience. Our parents told us we should obey and we tell our children the same thing...but obedience to the Father can look and feel quite different. Our parents tell us, "Don't run with scissors or you'll poke your eye out". God says, "Set aside your fears and run with Me." Mom tells us, "Don't touch the stove, it's hot." God says, "Endure the fires of the world for Me Name." My dad told me, "Be careful who you trust." God says, "Trust in ME to lead you where you must go for My name." My own heart says, "Be careful what you wish for." God says, "There is nothing you posses that I did not give you." He required me to get on 3 different flights, meet people I did not know, share my life with these people...and come back completely changed.

Leading up to the time the first flight left the ground, I had doubts. Literally, until then... I doubted my abilities. I doubted God's calling. What if I had heard Him wrong? What if He was actually speaking to the person NEXT to me and the wires got crossed?!?!? What if I was awful? What if I really had nothing to offer? These were thoughts clouding my head as I strained to hear my boarding group called. I honestly thought I could simply slip away and consider my trip payment a donation. The problem was I had been slipping away for over 30 years. He required my full obedience, and since it truly is ALL I have to offer, I had better offer it up good :)

So what happens when you really do simply obey? Well, I'm glad you asked. What I had to offer wasn't much BUT what God had to offer through me was HUGE. I left with more friends (the real kind, not just the ones who you call friend) than I have EVER had. I lived life with people. I got my hands dirty and immersed myself fully in a culture that could teach Americans a thing or two. Like the Grinch, I believe my heart grew a few sizes that week. I was refreshed and revived in my Spirit, anew in my calling. I left with a clearer vision of my purpose than I had ever had before. Why? All because I chose to OBEY. I received infinitely more than I could ever give, which is exactly what God promises in His word.

The biggest treasures I received were the friends who now have a permanent place in my heart (whether they want to or not). I will remain forever changed and forever grateful for these experiences that were allowed due to my simple obedience. What on this earth is holding you back today?

Monday, February 4, 2013

And in THIS Corner

Hello virtual friends!

Life is getting back to my version of normal since I flew home from a great mission trip to Moldova. I have notes here that are going to shape up into some really awesome posts for ya'll. And hey, maybe by the time I'm done with you you'll be able to point Moldova out on a map :)

Since my return my mind has been in complete over drive. For those who do not know, this was my very first mission trip. Boy did I pick a great one! As I prepared for the trip AND as I debriefed afterward, there was a common thought that kept invading my mind.
"You have a specific reach in your corner of the world."
This phrase has actually made it into several sermons from both of my pastors. the general idea is that we are ALL given a certain reach through the individuals we encounter on a daily basis. My reach is probably different from your reach. It doesn't matter how deep or wide we feel our reach is, God is the one that goes the distance. You see, it's up to us to make the connections and take that first step. The way may seem long and tiresome, but if we commit to do our part God will do the rest. We don't have to be eloquent with words or the most dynamic personality...we must simply be willing.
So, what does your corner of the world look like? Is it full of hurting co-workers that need a smile? Are there children looking to you for guidance? Does your corner contain souls that long to belong? Perhaps your corner is widening as mine is. Maybe your corner contains people from all over the world. Whatever your corner may look like, the most important step you can take today is to look within the corners of your heart. Do you hold a willingness in the depths of your heart? Are you willing to sacrifice what is necessary for the will of God to be done? Would you be willing to give up what is "comfortable" to build your character suitable to your calling?
As you slip through your day today I encourage you to take a look at the inner corners of your heart. As you gaze into these corners, ask that you may be shown those things you are holding too tightly to so you may let them go. As you are able to let go of the clutter in each corner, you will see your inner vision widen so you can take in the fullness of your corner of the world. Just a heads up: it's bigger than you think ;) Only you can reach these souls, so let go of what is not serving and allow your gaze to widen until it comes to rest fully on the face of the Father.