Monday, January 23, 2012
This has been the best, but also hardest 3 months and I never would of thought I'd be where I am now. The transition to married life as far as cooking, cleaning, and managing school has actually been pretty smooth. It's different, but God's grace has given me the ability to meet the daily challenges of being a wife with great joy. I love my husband more deeply today than I did on our wedding day, and I think that's what God intends. However, life isn't a "1950's tv family show" and we've definitely experiences many trials and convictions in the last 3 months.
We did a 40 day fast and devotions to get ready for a D-Now in Madison, and it was this point that we saw what God was revealing to us about our lifestyle, decisions, motives, and actions. First, He put a conviction in our hearts that we should move to a not so comfortable neighborhood/house. This wasn't hard to say yes to because I know Christ calls us to "deny ourselves and pick our cross". We decided to look for a new place, having no clue what we were looking for. We looked into a couple rentals and nothing seemed to be right, but one day I was randomly driving in a neighborhood near Philip's work and saw a for rent sign on a house. We checked into it, and felt that the Holy Spirit was leading us here. The crazy part was that there was another family interested so we had to put down a good deal of money THAT evening. Philip was confident that this was God's leading so we did it. This was the beginning of the testing of my faith. It's completely illogical to put down as much money as we did without even sleeping on it. However, I would say this was the easy part.
The hard part has been every day since we decided to say "yes" to God's call, and since then we've had to depend on Him every second of the day. Honestly, I've never been in a place where I couldn't depend on myself or parents or friends. I've always had a "safety net" in my life, and now that there isn't one, I'm learning to trust my God more than I ever have. I think we depend on God whether we realize it or not(breath, health, ect), but I guess I've realized my dependence for Him more than I ever have. If you know me, you know that I'm pretty much a control freak, but I can see that God is breaking me of that. The truth is I DON'T have control, and I guess never really have.
On the other hand, I'm also experiencing the "joy" that James says we should have for trials. This has all been really hard for me, and I know God has so much more testing in store, but despite that I can't wait to see how He continues to change me to look like Him. I can't wait to see Him grow my faith to be as big as a mustard seed.(definitely not there yet)
The craziest part of all this to me is that this is just the tip of the iceberg. This has been hard on me so I can't imagine going through the kind of trials that Paul talks about. I used to think that I could give up my life for Christ in an instant, but I've found that I'm a lot like Peter.... He tells Jesus He will die for Him, then a little later Peter denies ever knowing Jesus. I'm realizing more and more the distance that my sin separates me from God, but with that I'm realizing more and more the power of the blood of Christ to bridge the gap.
This is getting long so I'll end it with this thought. "Indeed, in our hearts we felt the sentence of death. But this happened that we might not rely on ourselves but on God, who raises the dead." 2 Cor. 1:9
Paul and Timothy almost died suffering for the gospel, and they see it as a good thing because they had to rely on God. That's what I want. I want my heart to be like that. It's not there yet, but I want the faith that can endure sharing in the sufferings of Christ.
Tuesday, September 6, 2011
Well, we’re down to 53 days away from the wedding, and the past 215 days have been some of the most trying, stressful, joyous, and exciting days of my life. God has grown me and matured me in the last 6 months more than I could have ever imagined. He’s grown my patience, faith, love, gentleness, kindness, and contentness, and He’s humbled me like I’ve never been before. He’s opened my eyes to things I’ve never seen before, and revealed Himself to me more. Honestly, if I didn’t write about it, I would explode!
There are so many things I could share in this blog, but if I shared all of them this blog would last for a week so I’ll just share a few.
One thing that I have to write about is how God works in our relationships (specifically a marriage relationship) to reveal Himself to us. Honestly, up until about 2 years ago, I was really on the fence about marriage and if it was something God had for me or even something that I wanted. With marriage these days, the odds seem to be against a full, godly marriage because they are so hard to come by. Also, I was relating to Paul a lot when he says that you’re blessed if you’re not married, I mean marriage is obviously hard just look at the numbers: 50% of marriages in America are expected to end in divorce. WHOA. So according to that Philip and I have a 50/50 chance of making it. (that’s a joke by the way, our covenant with each other won’t be broken) Anyway, so I doubted marriage and God’s power to work through it, kind of. I’ve since seen a whole new side to marriage. As I’ve studied marriages in the bible and what marriage represents, and as Philip and I have sought to treat each other like God calls us to, God has started to reveal the beauty of marriage to me. It’s like Ephesians 5:22-33 is coming alive right before my eyes. It’s a beautiful cycle that I’ll attempt to explain. As I’m drawn closer to Christ by His grace, I know and am able to respect and love Philip, the same way the church is called to be towards Christ. As Philip is drawn closer to Christ by His grace, He is able to love and treat me like Christ does the church. And when we are being that picture of Christ and the Church to each other, we in turn, experience God in a more intimate, real way than we ever have and are drawn closer to Him. This brings me back to my initial statement. God has worked in a MIGHTY way through my relationship to Philip to bring me to a more intimate relationship with Him. I am able to understand Christ deeper as lover, warrior, and savior through my relationship with Philip. God also uses this relationship to humble me and change me to look more like Him. All I can say is that only Yhwh can take two really messed up people and create a relationship that looks like that! But that’s just a glimpse…the bigger picture is of the church and Christ!! Now THAT’S amazing!! Not only can He create a relationship like that between two people, but He can take a whole GROUP of messed up, broken people and create something this beautiful.
Now, how can I be stressed about wedding planning when I meditate on my God. I know it’s not over, but this season of engagement and wedding planning has kind of been a practice run of what’s to come. Life is going to get busy, and it’s going to seem crazy sometimes, but God’s blessed me with so many amazing, Godly relationships that point me to Him. And when I remember the God who is my Father, Lover, Protector, Warrior, and Savior, and all He is and all He’s done, it’s a lot easier to deal with the trials of this life.
TO GOD BE THE GLORY!
Monday, July 5, 2010
Well we have 4 weeks left in Wichita. I guess lately I've been battling with the perspective that I have on that statement. The last week has been a lot harder because we haven't had as much to do so my mind hasn't been occupied with things happening right in front of me. Instead, I find myself thinking about home, future trips, or even school this fall. I really didn't think I'd have such a problem with this, but I've been "homesick". This really bothers me. I guess it's a natural reaction to miss the familiar and comfortable, but I wish my heart was so set on Christ that He was my home. I want to be able to say that anywhere I go is home because my Savior never abandons me..and truly believe it. My mind knows it, but my heart doesn't, at least not yet.
So far this summer, God has really stripped a lot away from me and has put me in a place of constant self-evaluation. I think this is the first time in my walk with Him that I've realize what it's like to be in the process of refining. I know He has been refining me in the past, but I've never seen it for what it actually was. I guess what I'm trying to say is this is the first time I've really noticed what the fire feels like. The difference is that in times of trial before I didn't notice the hope...the hope that this will mold me more into the image of Christ. Or maybe I "knew" that trials are for a reason, but I'm just now believing and trusting in that.
It's cool to look back on the last several years of life and see where God has taken me and what He's taught me. I can see the things He told me that He was going to do in me back in 9th grade coming to fruition. The conclusion that I come to when I think back about all that stuff is that God has never wronged me, lead me astray, or broken a promise...so why should I ever doubt?
I know this blog is all over the place. Lo siento. So I just got done reading through Ecclesiastes. I guess it's been very helpful while I've been away from home and here this summer. I know it's all about the futility of life, but more so the big reoccuring thing that I noticed was despite the fact that we all die, we need to hold every moment captive. Life is short and this life can be one filled with joy regardless of the things that cause pain or sorrow. I guess for me that means taking advantage of every breath I breathe while I'm here in Wichita, and not being focused on the things to come once I get home.
Oh, and I wanted to write about some Patriotism stuff, but it'd take too long so here's an article that says basically exactly what I would say. "For (too much) love of Country"
Friday, June 18, 2010
I would say all those things are "missions" and when you do those things, I would say that you are being missional, or missions minded. However, why is it that we plan special events to carry this out? Or even more so, why do we see these tasks or deeds as something that's different from the normal routine?...Have we perversed the real meaning of being missional?
I started reading a book awhile back called "They like Jesus, but not the Church." Honestly, I haven't gotten that far, but what I have read has been very interesting. In one chapter the author has a list of things that he defines as missional. It's a good bit of stuff, but I promise you'll want to read through it....
-Being missional means that the church sees itself as being missionaries rather than having a missions department, and we see ourselves as being missionaries right where we live.
-Being missional means that we see ourselves as representative of Jesus "sent" into our communities, and that the church aligns everything it does with the missio dei (mission of God).
-Being missional means we see the church not as a place we go only on Sunday, but as something we ARE throughout the week.
-Being missional means that we understand we don't "bring Jesus" to people but that we realize Jesus is active in culture and we join Him in what He is doing.
-Being missional means we are very much in the world and engaged in culture but are not conforming to the world.
-Being missional means we serve our communities, and that we build relationships with the people in them, rather than seeing them as evangelistic targets.
-Being missional means being all the more dependent on Jesus and the Spirit through prayer, the Scriptures, and each other in community.
So missions isn't about special events or things you do every now and then, but rather missions is about a lifestyle. It's something you are doing everyday, all day. It's about being INTENTIONAL with what you do in your day. Norm quoted someone earlier this evening and the quote was "You have three "8's" in your day. 8 to work, 8 to sleep, and 8 to do whatever with. What you choose to do with the third "8" shows what kind of person you are." I would even go as far as to say that the "8" you spend working is included in what kind of person you are. So...how do you spend your time? How am I spending my time, and who is that time for?
My challenge to you and myself is this: maybe missions should be apart of our lives and who we are, not something we simply do. maybe, just maybe, when Jesus gave the disciples "the great commission" He wasn't just talking to them....maybe, just maybe, He was talking to all who follow Him...and I mean ALL, not just those who are "called into the ministry".
So....Are we on mission?
Thursday, June 10, 2010
We got here Friday afternoon, and were put straight to work. We had to help get the house prepared for meetings and mission teams. Norm, our supervisor, told us we are gonna pull off more events and stuff this summer than any other church plant. We'll be busy, busy, busy, and have been, but I'm sooo excited about it! On Saturday we threw a block party in conjunction with a local event, and I think it went really well. We had the space jump set up with food and stuff and had a lot of kids and parents come by. We were mainly getting the word out about our VBS called Awesome Rockin' Jam Camp which we started yesterday. Our first mission team, from Paragould, AR, came in on Saturday, and have been doing a great job with VBS and everything else. We had 3 non-church kids show up yesterday to VBS and we had 7 more today! I think it's been going great so far and can't wait to see what happens tomorrow. There is one girl that's especially caught my attention. Her name is Tara, she doesn't go to church anywhere, and her mom has stayed for most of the time both days. She's a really shy girl, but has been becoming more open the more time we spend with her. I really hope that this will make an impact on her and her mom, and I really think it will. So tons more stuff has happened, but I'm not gonna go into detail about everything because nobody wants to read that much stuff (except maybe my mom). :)
God's been teaching me a lot as well. I know I have a great opportunity to learn a lot of new things and to build on my foundations this summer just with what I'm doing and who I'm around. It's really cool that wherever I go, God places a great spiritual mentor(s) there.
A few things that God's been revealing to me are about fear, trust, and power. In Proverbs 29:25 it says "The fear of man is a snare, but the one who trusts in the Lord is protected." Then, in Ephesians 1, it talks about our inheritance a lot, and God's great power. I know that because I'm such a control freak, I tend to not trust God in all things and fear what I can't control...or what I think I can or can't control. So when I'm reminded that my fear is actually a snare, and trust in God is protection my view on life becomes a little different. God's great power is the reason that I shouldn't fear. In Ephesians 1:19 it words it like this: "the immeasurable greatness of His power." I don't view His power as immeasurable greatness, if fact, if I can't measure it, I usually don't trust in it. However, I can put my hope and trust that His power is SOO great that I can't even fathom it. I can see it...like at the resurrection of Christ...but do I live like I serve a God who is capable of doing things I'll never comprehend? Do I pray with the mindset that the God of the universe, creator of all things, has immeasurable power, and that He actually listens to what I have to say? well...I guess the answer to those questions are not lately, but just like in the end of Ephesians 1, I pray that "my eyes may be enlightened so that I may know."
Thursday, June 3, 2010
The first night we were here, some of the leaders were giving us an orientation speech. One verse that we looked at was 1 Corinthians 9:19-23 which says:
"For although I am free from all people, I have made myself a slave to all, in order to win more people. To the Jews I became like a Jew, to win Jews; to those under the law, like one under the law—though I myself am not under the law —to win those under the law. To those who are outside the law, like one outside the law—not being outside God's law, but under the law of Christ—to win those outside the law. To the weak I became weak, in order to win the weak. I have become all things to all people, so that I may by all means save some. Now I do all this because of the gospel, that I may become a partner in its benefits."
This summer, I want to become a servant to all, meet people where they are, adapt, be intentional, and love above all else. That doesn't sound like an easy task at all, but I have no doubt that through the power of the Holy Spirit I will be able to be exactly what I need to be to accomplish God's will. It's funny hearing myself say that because I feel like it's been a long time since I've had this kind of confidence in who I am in Christ. I thank God for not ever giving up on me, and for how He will continue to work in my life even when I try to run from Him.
I read something in Proverbs yesterday that caught my attention. In Proverbs 24:16 it says "Though a righteous man falls seven times, he will get up, but the wicked will stumble into ruin." I believe this verse emphasizes the fact that through God's grace and mercy and repentence the righteous man can get back up and keep going on to better things even when He falls while the wicked man will go down the path of destruction. This in itself was an encouragement to me because one thing I've been struggling with is accepting God's love and mercy when I fall. I know it's there and I know it's unconditional, but I don't see myself worthy of it and therefore don't forgive myself in a way. THIS IS COMPLETELY RIDICULOUS! God desires me. He doesn't need me, but He does desire my love. He will stop at nothing to pursue me or do what's best for me. In not forgiving myself or accepting His love, I'm trying to play god in my life. I just want to let God be God in me. How will others know the vastness and depths of His love if I don't let it do it's work in my life?
Please pray for me as I'm entering my assignment for the summer that God will continue to show me exactly what His love is, and that it will be evident in my life how much He loves people. Also, a huge thing that you can be praying for is how God is going to use this summer to direct my life. I believe this won't just be a time of growth and maturing, but also I believe that God wants to reveal some plans that He has for me in the future. I hope that He will give me some direction as I'm doing what He has given me a passion for. I've already begun getting that funny feeling in the pit of my stomach when I hear people talking about all this missions and church planting stuff. I have such a desire to live this life full time, and I would like for you to join me as I pray for direction in how God is going to further that desire.
I love you all and thank you so much for all your prayers and support!! :)
P.S. If you would like to send words of encouragement or anything else this will be my address for the summer:
4602 East Willow Court
Wichita, KS 67220
Sunday, May 23, 2010
I've been reading Redeeming Love by Francine Rivers and am still not finished, but it has already helped opened my heart to something that I've been failing miserably at: Loving God. If you haven't read it then I absolutely recommend it, but basically it's a fictional version of the book of Hosea. Anyway, there is one part in the book where this prostitute (who has been taken away from her old life to live married to a christian man) realizes how much this man did for her and how much he sacrificed for her. Even though she doesn't love him, she still feels like she owes him for everything he has done. She decides to pay him back by working overtime around the farm. "She hoped to please him by working like a slave when all he wanted was her love." I read this and realized this has been me for way too long.
So this morning in church I told God that I knew I had been doing a terrible job at loving Him back. The only thing is that I found myself standing before God not even knowing HOW to correctly love Him. So I told Him that I needed help in seeing how I was suppose to love Him. When I asked Him to show me how to love Him, I heard that distinct voice that I've been blocking out, saying: "Trust Me". So that's what I'm doing...or at least gonna try my best to do.
I'm not exactly sure what I need to pray for about this, but luckily I have the Holy Spirit and you for that. I do ask, though, that you be at least praying for me over the course of this summer that I'm attuned to His will...whatever that may be.