Saturday, December 31, 2011

Year in Review

I cannot believe today is December 31, 2011! But I must say, today was a great way to end a rough year. Over ¾ of the Saturdays in 2011 were spent with Shawna and Laura. We have shared the good and the bad, laughter and tears together. As I think back on this last year, I feel like today summed it up with Starbucks first thing (gotta have coffee!), Shawna and I taking a walk around Lake Murray, Souplantation for lunch, and a relaxing afternoon just being together.
But as I sit down to write this final post in 2011, I would love to take a few moments to summarize all that God has done in my life since I first started this blog 12 months ago. Beginning of the year Shawna got married and pregnant. During the spring, I coached my last year of high school swimming and once again girls won league. The summer was filled with Indian Hills camp with my awesome group of girls in the tent with the black widow and rat. And it concluded with my family’s yearly trip to Lake Powell. As the fall came, Royal Night happened, sweet baby Joshua went to Jesus, Thanksgiving with days off to move, and into the Holiday Season it came. All this happened as slowly God laid it upon my heart to follow a desire totally from Him to go to the missions field.
I spent the first half of this year thinking about it. And thinking. And thinking. As the spring came and other things began to take over the day to day, I lost track of what I was praying, asking God to keep me sane during the craziness instead of asking for focus. In order to get my attention, towards the end of the summer, He sent me into a weird sort of depression where my energy level sank, my motivation was minimal and will to go further was at a standstill. I even went as far as to go to the doctor thinking maybe something in my blood was off or something was wrong with me. It was at that point where it hit me. This blog went unread for months as I went through the day to day. In order to get my attention, God had to bring me to a level where I had to turn to Him to take the next step forward. It was then that it hit me. One more I began my quiet time and I decided to look at my blog. I went to the last post I had written and low and behold, one of the last things I said was “Holy Spirit direct my ways”. It was at that point when I realized I needed to move on the crazy idea of going to the missions field. I searched online at different organization and SIM seemed to stick out to me. I felt as if they were desiring to help people, who had it upon their heart from God to go to the mission field, to get there. So I sent in my contact information, days later a preliminary, and the process began. I have since been in utter awe of God and how He works out His plan for my life. As I go into 2012, I desire to call upon His name each morning and night, to thank Him for the good and bad as well as the opportunity to serve Him.
Word to summarize 2011: Surrender. I had to surrender a lot of things this year to God and I learned a lot. I had to surrender my desires to allow God the opportunity to move His. I surrendered time and energy to love on others.
As 2012 is just 1 hour away, I am quite excited to ring in the New Year knowing God has this next year all planned. I look forward to my trip in England and Ireland in March, SIM Start (weekend training) in May, Summer Blast and all the other things Jesus and I get to do together. Jesus may you richly bless this year to come; I love you with every being of my soul and cannot wait til the day where I get to see you face to face. Until then, use me for your glory and honor.
In your precious name,

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

The secret of following God's will...

*It was as if God had removed my eyes and replaced them with His so I could see people as the heavenly Father sees them- lost and needy but with potential to glorify and reflect Him. pg. 27

*This is what is important- each one of us is responsible for how we obey what He has said and follow Him alone. pg. 63

*The secret of following God's will, I discovered, usually is wrapped up in rejecting the good for God's best. pg. 64

*God always chooses the foolish things of this world to confound the wise. He shows His might only on behalf of those who trust in Him. Humility is the place where all Christian service begins. pg. 65


All of the quotes above are from missionary author, K. P. Yahannan's book "Revolution in World Missions". I received his book free from and it has opened my eyes to a whole new side of missions. It is giving me fresh eyes to the world of missions and all that it entails as well as how God must be the director of the mission or everything will fall apart. I have also gotten a new perspective on prayer and really trusting God in His will for my life. The quote above regarding the secret to following God's will is so reverse to our society's beliefs. I would say most of us see a good deal and wouldn't pass it up, but is it the best? Our impatience and need for "things" has influenced our thinking in a way that totally dumbfounds those who have been or are serving in 3rd world countries. Yahannan describes it as "Their (the 3rd world country) threadbare cotton garments would not be acceptable as cleaning rags in the United States. Then I discovered most Americans have closets full of clothing they wear only occasionally- and I remembered the years I traveled and worked with only the clothes on my back. And I have lived the normal lifestyle of most village evangelists." (pg. 39)

Wow. As I read that and the rest of that chapter regarding the western civilization and our ability to need everything made me really sad. Sad at the fact that I have completely fit conformed to this thinking that I need all these things. The clothes part also hit home. I look around my room; I have a small closet packed with clothes, many I haven't worn in over a year, and then 12+ drawers full of clothes that I couldn't wear them all in probably a year's time. And there are people in this world who do not own as much clothes as I am wearing right now! The socks on my feet that are keeping my toes from "freezing" are a rarity in other parts of the world. So with all this, I'm pretty sure God has laid it upon my heart to go to a third world country. As difficult as it will be, I want to have to live at that level, in a way like Jesus did when He came, with the lowest of the lows. I may be very uncomfortable and probably wish I would have never wished for this now, but why do I feel like I am "deserving" of what I have??? I am not! I'm not deserving of anything except complete separation from God forever and yet He has blessed me with the gift of His son as well as the privilege to be called a child of God. I have no other desire than to give what breath I have to His purpose.


What is God challenging you to do?

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Tis the season...

to celebrate Jesus! This morning started out with some wonderful quiet time with Jesus as well as coffee with Laura. As I was reading I came across this beautiful verse:

"But whatever were gains to me I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. What is more, I consider everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them garbage that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ- the righteousness that comes from God on the basis of faith. I want to know Christ- yes, to know the power of his resurrection and participation in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, and so, somehow, attaining to the resurrection from the dead."
 Philippians 3:7-11
As I thought about this holiday season fastly approaching and Philippians 3, I was reminded that Jesus came to this earth as a baby and lived a life in obedience to His Father as an example to me. He served others to the fullest extent and yet managed to balance out His life so that time with His dad and time with His ministry came together as perfection. Verse 10 I bolded, because I want to know Christ in every aspect possible, and I fully know I will never attain all that can be, but I as a strive to be like him, I can grow. Jesus had not planned out his life and he did not know what was around each corner, but He did know who He was serving in everything He did. I too don't know what my life holds, but I know that whatever GOd has for me, I want to do it in an ultimate sacrifice to Him.
The other thing I was thinking about is ministry overseas during holidays. I love my family and I love time when we are all together. My favorite part is trying to get one on one time with each person so I can find out what is going on in their lives. I also love sitting around the table, me quietly, and listening to their voices, the laughter, and their stories. Tears are actually forming in my eyes as I think about spending an Easter, or thanksgiving, Christmas, or someone's birthday not around Grammy and Pappaw's table. As I go into this Christmas season, I just want to take in my family, as much as I can, so that when the time comes, where they are not a 15 minute drive away, I can remember. I believe these moments in the future may minimally make me feel the "sufferings" of what He felt away from His father on this Earth.
And I also want my focus to be completely on Jesus. I asked a little girl tonight what she had for snack, she said, "a cupcake!" I asked her, "Why did you eat a cupcake?" and she said, "Because it's Jesus' birthday!" I absolutely love the simplicity of a child's response.

So here's to celebrating Jesus' special day!

Thursday, December 15, 2011 are my forever hope.

As I go to begin this post, I want to cry. I am not an emotional person and no tears seem to be forming in my eyes but my heart yearns for God. As days have gone by, I have said oh I'll do it tomorrow...I wake up the next morning, hitting the snooze button 20 times and now time is up, gotta get ready quick and get to work. I know I am much more awake and focused at night, no time frame to work under nor distractions of the day. Evenings come as a time of reflection, both behind and forward. But I have been doing this while laying in bed watching tv. I'm sad because in the craziness of changing living circumstances, my daily routines got off. A normal work week hasn't existed for weeks and therefore the ebb and flow of changes has forced different sleep patterns. I have no real excuse other than the extreme desire to return to God, on my knees in confession that I have placed other things ahead of Him in my life these last few weeks and have sensed felt alone in many ways.

Because I haven't been focused, it has been a bit hard to get focused tonight. But I did open up my bible and chose to read John 3. It seems to be coming up lately and I wanted to read through, a bit slower and really try to understand what Jesus was trying to explain to Nicodemus. I believe the first 21 versus of John 3 are illustrations of those who are in the darkness of this world and Jesus paints us a beautiful picture of exactly how to "preach the gospel" in a sense using illustrations from the real world.

"The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit." -John 3:8

"This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but men loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil. Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not coming into the light for fear that his deeds will be exposed." -John 3:19-20

And in the middle of those versus is the all time favorite, John 3:16, "For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life." It is so simple. God loves us. God wants to be with us. God desires all of us. So the question that comes to mind is, do I really love God? Do I want to be withHim every minute of every day and is how I'm living reflecting that? Do I desire all of God, walking daily with him trying to be like him? At this point in time, I'm not sure I would like the answer to these questions. This is exactly why I want to cry.

So a couple days ago, I posted these questions in my blog as one's that I thought were a great start in getting my focus back on where it needs to be. My desire is to answer these as openly and honestly as I can at this very moment, so that I can see just where I am and ask God to help me fully return to Him in all the ways He desires.
Are you ready to be with Me alone on a regular basis to keep things straight between us? Yes God, I am ready. May every night, before bed be a time where You and I can communion together. May I be able to see the importance of taking this time to be with you so that we can keep things straight between us. Jesus, tonight I come to you down on my knees begging for your forgiveness for I know how far I seem to have run. I no longer want to walk on my own path Jesus but I want to return to the road you have for me, the perfect straight one, the one where you are.
How can your prayer life be different so we can communicate on a regular basis? Jesus, I believe that if I am able to turn off all the distractions and really focus in on this special time with you, it will be meaningful and different that it has been. Jesus I pray you would protect the evening time, that when something comes up you would remind me of my priorities and that I would show how much I do love you in my obedience to this promise. Hold me accountable Jesus to your standards so that we can continue to build on the relationship that we have.
Are you actively seeking My guidance through spending time in My Holy Word? Lately, no I have not. I feel as though I have been seeking every other avenue except your Word for how I am to walk each step I've taken. Help me to focus my thoughts on you not just during my prayer time but through every step of my day. May more time in Your Word with mediation on versus help me to secure Your Word in my heart so that I am able to recall it quicker in times of need.
Do you sense God's unconditional love for you today? As I write out these responses and really think about John 3:16, I know you love me. But I don't think I realize just how much you do. I can repeat it over and over that you died on the cross for me, but my prayer to you tonight is to help make that real for me. I believe, entering the Christmas season is a great opportunity to take the time to remember exactly why you were born.

As I ponder the reason of your birth and what happened during those early days of Your life, I can't help but recall the beautiful lyrics to the song by Keith&Kristyn Getty called Fullness of Grace...

Fullness of grace in man's human frailty;
This is the wonder of Jesus.
Laying aside His power and glory
Humbly He entered our world.
Chose the path of meanest worth;
Scandal of a virgin's birth.
Born in a stable cold and rejected;
Here lies the hope of the world.
Jesus, you are the hope of this world, and you are my forever hope. My hope doesn't lie in my job or house or money, no my hope is in You. Help me Jesus to live my life in obedience to that very statement. Jesus, continue to direct my days that that in all that is accomplished, you may receive all the glory and honor and praise.
It is in your Holy and Mighty name I pray,

Friday, December 9, 2011

I am the vine; you are the branches...apart from me you can do nothing.

I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples. - John 15:5,8

I always love starting my posts off with a verse. Many of my posts only consist of a verse or passage that really stuck out to me that day with little to no commentary to follow. Some of them speak to me in a daily struggle I am facing and others, like this one, point to the road to the missions field. Sometimes I think I am the vine. I lead myself to believe I am the thing this world is centered around, the one who accomplishes the tasks at hand, the one who has everything all planned out and must go according to schedule (hopefully no running late!). But as I read this 'verse of the day' from, I was immediately struck with the fact that this life is not about me, nor my tasks that I think I accomplish myself, or the way I can schedule my day down to the minute; No God is the vine, and I am a branch. This world is centered around Jesus, who has every day already planned and can see from beginning to eternity and has the perfect timing for each and every moment. What a humble reminder.

But what has really stuck out to me as far as missions goes is the second sentence in the first verse, 'If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.' In the first part I see that I have something to do with the relationship I have with Jesus. I must remain close to Jesus and He will remain close to me. In the book we, as a children's staff, have been going over each week, called "Lead Like Jesus" by Ken Blanchard & Phil Hodges, they ask some tough questions about this very thing, how are you remaining close to Jesus in your daily walk? (Questions from Jesus to you regarding how your own personal relationship is going with Him)

1. Solitude- Are you ready to be with Me alone on a regular bais to keep things straight between us?
2. Prayer- How can your prayer life be different so we can communicate on a regular basis?
3. Bible study- Are you actively seeking My guidance through spending time in My Holy Word?
4. Experiencing God's unconditional live- Do you sense God's unconditional love for you today?

I see these questions really pull at my heart when looking at my relationship with Jesus and how well I am working to build our relationship so that He can remain in me and I in Him. And only when those puzzles pieces are together correctly can a beautiful picture be created or, like the verse says it, fruit can be produced. And the second part of that sentence is the 'apart from me you can do nothing'. At first I was read it and went, wow kinda harsh Jesus. But really, if the puzzles pieces are not connecting to form a beautiful picture, nothing can be accomplished.

Dear Jesus,
  I believe you orchestrate our lives so that when I am in You, and You in me, we can accomplish a beautiful puzzle like the sunset above. What a great and mighty God you are and I am so thankful to live a life in service to you. Help me God to yearn for you each and every moment. Help me to make time each day to turn to you and search out your heart in what you have for me. I am so excited  to be moving forward on the road to the missions field and feel as though without your leading, this could not be possible. Thank you for the affirmation in two great people who have worked with SIM and the positive feedback they had. I feel as though you gave me those words to affirm that I am in your will. God I must continue to surrender every desire and dream I have so that my life is completly submitted to your will.

I love you Jesus and it is in your name that I lift these prayers to you,
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