Monday, November 24, 2008

Come and See

In the last week I have heard the phrase "come and see" several times and feel really encouraged by it. At the well last thursday night at my church I heard the story of Jesus meeting the woman at the well. I have heard this story several times but last thursday I really heard it. After meeting Jesus, the Samaritan woman went back to her village telling everyone about how she met the Messiah. She told everyone about how he knew everything about her and simply told everyone to "come and see" Him for themselves. She didn't know any more than Jesus had met her, knew everything about her, and still loved her. She witnessed and brought people to Christ with a simple, uncomplicated faith.
I am currently reading the Irresistable Revolution by Shane Claiborne. Early in the book he describes calling Mother Theresa on the phone (yup, she answered her own phone over in Calcutta). He expressed how he wanted to come be a missionary for a few months with her and without any details or information she also simply said "come and see". From the things I have read about Mother Theresa she was a simple woman, with a simple faith. Here is what she had to say about faith:
"Following Jesus is simple, but not easy. Love until it hurts and then love more."
Is it really that simple? I think so. I think we all have an inherent ability to complicate things in life. When I think about people I have seen in third world countries I smile at how precious their faith is. It is simple, but not by any means easy. Often times all they have is their faith. I have been trying to simplify my life as much as possible, its funny because I have always described my faith as simple which I am happy to say. I am excited to continue learning and growing in faith, and I will always fight the urge to complicate it. I know things won't always be easy, but I am determined to love until it hurts, and then love some more because I believe I have been called and designed to do just that.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

The Joy of the Lord is My Strength

Yesterday was an incredible day. It was perfect. All day I was in awe of the answered prayer about finding joy in my last weeks at my job. My patients were all great, one I have been taking care of for a couple months is actually going home this week after a long, hard recovery from a freak accident which makes my heart ache with happiness for him. The other two were special needs patients who were funny and sweet and loving. I got news about someone, a perfect stranger, who wanted more information on how to support me next year and hear about my monthly updates. On my drive after word The line from a worship song stuck out and it summed everything up perfectly... "The joy of the Lord is my strength" wow, never really appreciated that line until I actually felt like I was living it. LifeGroup was good, I look forward to that time so much and at the end we had a really good time of prayer which made me feel truly connected with the girls and God. This sounds corny (because it is) but I even had the kids song; I've got such joy joy joy joy down in my heart...where? down in my heart... where? going through my head, :P

I realized yesterday that my days leading up feeling sad about my upcoming departure were actually positive. Don't mistake the fact that I am ridiculously excited to go, it has just been getting more "real" recently that I am leaving. I was feeling sad about leaving a new group of friends who I feel I am just starting to get close to. I was sad about leaving an incredible job that I LOVE, and mostly I was sad about leaving my family. What I realized yesterday was if I wasn't leaving, I wouldn't appreciate what I have here nearly as much. My prayer request last night was that I can continue to cherish every moment spent with people I love while I am still here. I went to bed feeling great with plans of getting an early start to today and being productive.

This morning within hours I felt like a bomb had been dropped. At first I thought I had too much coffee, however you can never have too much coffee :) Seriously though...I had that jittery feeling and was overwhelmed by normal things and things unseen. This feeling is almost completely foreign to me. I never feel anxious. I can probably count on one hand the times I remember feeling true anxiety over something. There was no indicator as to why I felt this way...I just did. Nothing seemed to make it go away. I tried laying down, taking a shower, praying...still nothing. I went off to a meeting for work and listened to the CD I was talking about in my previous post. That combined with some yummy passion tea seemed to calm my nerves a little, but they still lingered. After verbally "barfing" on my friend :) about everything on my mind I decided to sit down with my bible and journal and go to town. I looked in the concordance, flipped right to anxiety, and went through all of the verses. The second to last reference was out of Philippians and just as I was about to look at the next one I felt the need to read through the whole book of Philippians.

The verse on anxiety is Philippians 4:6-7, however this is not the verse that stuck out to me the most. I was struck by verse that follows.
Phil. 4:8~
Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.

All day I never thought about anything lovely or excellent. I let anxiety take hold and instead of finding something good or praiseworthy to focus on I got wrapped up in feeling like crap. I think there are plenty of anxiety-causing factors bubbling underneath the surface for me. I felt like today was a picture as to what it could look like if I let myself be consumed by those things. I feel at total peace now. Part of me wanted to come home tonight and turn on the t.v. in order to numb my mind a bit. I am so happy I felt led to read and just sit in the quiet presence of God. In the beginning of the book of Philippians my application bible gives a breakdown of the book. This particular one talked about happiness vs. joy. I liked this quote "happiness comes from happenings, joy comes from Christ"

I need strength to get through each day, whether it be perfect day like yesterday or a not-so-perfect day like today. Its funny to me that today the line "the Joy of the Lord is my Strength" means a whole lot more to me than it did yesterday. Today it rings even more true (and I've got that joy joy joy joy down in my heart again :)

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Here I am to Worship

Just recently I was thankfully introduced to the Daraja Children's Choir of Africa. My sister Jenny sat my mom and I down and had us listen to it the night she got it. This post is based on the last track, one that I have listened to over and over and have yet been able to get through it without crying. Recent prayers have been for God to break my heart for what breaks His. In the years before re-committing my life to God I built up some pretty big walls, some of which made it hard for me to truly open myself to things that could penetrate and affect my heart. It took going to Africa last April and an introduction to Deuteronomy 30:6 to start breaking down those walls, and I thank God for His gentleness during the destruction. This track includes a journal entry from Jeff Foxworthy (I know...I wouldn't have thought he was a Christian, its sure seems like it though) and it is incredible. Here it is:

"While I was in Africa I kept a notebook in my back pocket and would write down thoughts. Here's one of those entries. The things I saw today should never be seen, they shouldn't exist. Mountains of unbelievably stinky garbage whose ooze mixes with raw sewage to puddle up in mud streets. Atop these mountains are vultures and pigs, and women and children, rooting for rotten food. You don't know whether to vomit or cry, surely hell cannot be worse than this, but it is. Because hell means separation from Jesus, and that is not the case here. Amid the squalor, sickness, and stomachs aching in hunger, there are scattered smiles the likes of which I have never seen. There is a joy here because they know their risen savior and in their smiles you find the courage to help. We praise the same God and cling to the same promise that our trials here are but temporary, there is a glorious day coming. A day in which the hunger, disease, and fear will be gone forever. And on that day without doubt I know I will wear a smile like theirs as I listen to millions of my brothers and sisters from Africa sing to the King."

~In come the voices of the kids singing:

Here I am to worship,
Here I am to bow down,
Here I am to say that You're my God
You're altogether lovely
Altogether worthy,
Altogether wonderful to me

Light of the world
You stepped down into darkness.
Opened my eyes, let me see.
Beauty that made this heart adore You
Hope of a life spent with You

Here I am to worship,
Here I am to bow down,
Here I am to say that You're my God
You're altogether lovely
Altogether worthy,
Altogether wonderful to me

King of all days
oh, so highly exalted
Glorious in heaven above
Humbly You came
To the earth You created
All for love's sake became poor

So why Africa? I'm not sure when exactly it happened, but my heart was broken for the people there. I feel an absolute need to get up and go, so much that I couldn't picture my life without this trip being a part of it. The people there, their smiles, their faith, and so much more, grabbed hold of me and its not something that is letting go. This track brings me incredible joy and breaks my heart at the same time. I really believe God has instilled this desire deep within me and I am amazed at how everything is so perfectly planned. I worship an amazing God, one who has promised all His children will spend eternity with Him, I can't even begin to wrap my mind around that.

By the way, most of the children in the choir are orphans. Not only do they live in repulsive conditions, they don't have parents to protect and love them. We could stand to learn an awful lot about how to love and trust God from people, children, who have nothing yet worship God with hearts of full of joy...

Friday, November 7, 2008


Song lyrics have always spoken to me. I think part of loving music is sometimes being able to capture the emotion set forth by the artist and take hold of it as your own. Music can calm, excite, and move me in ways almost nothing else can. I love being able to match my exact mood to a song, and more recently my prayers to a song. Since seeing Brooke Fraser a couple of months ago I have been really loving her music. I am all about using my own words to describe whats on my mind, how I feel, or life in general. Lets face it though, musicians and songwriters are sometimes just better at it, well not sometimes, MOST of the time. So instead of trying to write about whats been most recently been on my mind I will use her lyrics to a song titled "Hymn"

If to distant lands I scatter
If I sail to farthest seas
Would you find and firm and gather 'til I only dwell in Thee?
If I flee from greenest pastures
Would you leave to look for me?
Forfeit glory to come after
'Til I only dwell in Thee

If my heart has one ambition
If my soul one goal to seek
This my solitary vision 'til I only dwell in Thee
That I only dwell in Thee
'Til I only dwell in Thee

I have been emailing back and forth with one of the team leaders from my last trip to Benin. Her signature on emails is Micah 6:8:

And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy
and to walk humbly with your God

I love that verse, it is so basic yet it says it all, mmm, I love it.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Progress Note

I have been thinking and praying recently about trust. More specifically I have been struggling with trust regarding provisions for my trip next year. I say all the time how much I trust God and right now I am praying for Him to increase my trust concerning this. This post serves as a progress note of sorts. I was at lifegroup tonight and had a bit of a revelation as to why I may have trust issues in general.
Over the last year and a half I have faced a lot of disappointments, mostly with old friends. I have had so many doors close on friendships I held so dear. I can't pinpoint exactly when the doors closed, just that recently I have realized they are no longer very interested in my life. I have a habit of holding expectations of people. These aren't necessarily high expectations, but I want to always believe people are inherently good and won't let me down (with the big things), but sometimes its just not the case. This isn't the place to get into all of the incredible people who have come into my life this year, I just want to mention that I am of course incredibly thankful and blessed to have my new friends.
I know there is a time to drop all expectations, for instance next year I am going in with no expectations and want to be open to all God has planned. To have expectations of people first requires trust..which brings me to my point.
While closing up and praying tonight I realized when I pray I sometimes avoid certain things or don't trust God to answer. I have been convicted to be a better witness at work, I even bought a book by a Christian author for a guy I work with. His daughter's boyfriend was going to be coming to him to ask for his permission to ask her to marry him. This guy was totally freaked out about it. After praying for a way to witness I was at the bookstore and found a book titled "So you want to marry my daughter". It was perfect, and the guy actually read it. He seems like an impossible person to reach with any talk of God, he is anti-religion and faith. So why have I not prayed for him?
Why am I concerned with raising money for next year?
Why don't I pray for things with a heart full of un-doubting faith?
I think I'm afraid to be disappointed....
Which is crazy, right!?
This is God we're talking about. His ways are not our ways. Being a disappointment is not on Gods resume.
I was on a trip this year with a girl who lead a really cool devotion one morning. She said sometimes life is similar to a closet. You know the one with all of your junk. Every week you stuff more and more into the closet with the promise to yourself you are going to clean it out on the weekend. The weekend passes and the closet is still packed. You continue packing things into each corner, a shoe here, a jacket there. One day you open the closet and all of your crap comes tumbling out. Now you are sitting in the middle of all of it and you have to figure out what to do. Some things need to be thrown out. Others need to be thought about for a bit, figure out if you need them or not. Still other things need to be brushed off and brought out again.
At work I write progress notes on every patient I take care of. I write about all of the things I did that day, mention changes from the day before, etc...
This is my progress note. A year and a half ago I was sitting in the middle of a big pile of "stuff" not knowing where to start. Now I am finding myself organized and feeling good about how things are looking. This trust issue is similar to the shirt in the proverbial closet that you see and ask yourself "where did that come from and why have I kept it for so long?"
I know I need to toss this trust issue out. I'm glad I found it and figured out where it came from. I am excited to see what God has in store for not just the coming months and years but for my life in general. I read this verse the other day and I keep reading it every night before bed, I love it.
Romans 12:2
"Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will able to test and approve what God's will is-His good, pleasing, and perfect will."