Sunday, March 12, 2017
I'm an INFJ. This means I'm a perfectionist and hold myself to high standards nobody should have to reach. This is why when I don't reach those standards I feel like a failure. More often than not I don't reach these standards.
I'm also in college. Lately I haven't written much of anything and, as a result, end up feeling not only empty and unfulfilled but like a failure. I know I'm supposed to be writing but it's so difficult to actually do in college. I've started and stopped story after story and felt very much like I've failed when I can't commit to finishing one work in progress but keep hopping from idea to idea, never making it out of the world building or plotting stage, and give up the idea and characters altogether.
It seems I have a bad case of the 'flitters' (stay tuned to future blog posts to learn what this means ;) and I can't stick with just one thing. This is frustrating not only to myself but to others as well.
Sunday, December 11, 2016
photo from Andrew Itaga
11:13. I’m sitting in my grandma’s kitchen, in a little corner at a table with a beautiful Christmas tablecloth and my dorm room tree in the center of it. The snow is waltzing circles out the window, Josh Garrels is making merry on Spotify, and Grandma is chopping potatoes for lunch.
This morning I read chapter 10 of Matthew, all about Jesus sending His disciples out into the world for short term missions to the lost sheep of Israel. I feel that this passage is sort of timely as tomorrow at one in the afternoon I will be leaving for the airport to travel across the world on a two week short term mission.
Chapter 10 is full of Jesus’ wise words to His disciples and there’s a lot that we can learn from them. I want to focus on a few key verses and dissect what I thought this morning as I read them:
Friday, December 9, 2016
It’s almost five in the afternoon on a Friday. I’m sitting at a table in the study room down the hall of my resident floor. In three days I am leaving the country for the first time (besides a little jaunt to Mexico when I was a wee lass, but that doesn’t really count) for a serving trip to Kenya.
Today I was reading through Matthew 8 and the following verses hit me hard:
It’s been a long while since I’ve sent out an update letter! For those of you who have been waiting for the promised letter, I apologize! I’m excited to announce that in four days (Monday, December 12) I will be leaving for Kenya. I don’t think it’s fully sunk in that I’m leaving for Africa—or even leaving the country. This will be my first time traveling internationally and I feel a bit unprepared for this leg of the adventure.
A few weeks ago I struggled through some deep fear regarding going to Kenya. It got to the point where I no longer wanted to go on the trip because of how afraid I was. However, I have conquered the majority of the fears with the help of Christ! At this point, I have no choice but to rely on Him because there’s nothing else I can do. He has brought me here. He has made me. He has chosen me to be His. I am not called to fear. I am called to stand strong and brave and that is what I shall do.
Of course it is normal to have nerves as one leaves the country—especially for the first time—but I am trying to be more excited for the trip than nervous. I am going with an incredible group of gifted people, I get to see animals in the wild that I have only ever seen in zoos, and I will be loving on the people of Kenya. What could be better?
In the past weeks I’ve gotten both the typhoid and yellow fever vaccinations (which apparently aren’t required but are fantastic to have) as well as a prescription for malaria pills. I’ve received a single-entry visa for Kenya. My team and I have continued meeting on Monday evenings to discuss trip details and bond.
In the next weeks I ask that you keep me and my team in your prayers for a variety of things:
1. Traveling mercies and health (we will be gone from Dec 12 to Dec 27)
2. Transformation for ourselves and those we’ll be loving on
3. Complete funding for our trip
4. Softened hearts and open minds
5. Courage to stand steadfast and strong and not give way to fear
This is a first step into the future for me as I feel particularly called to minister in eastern Africa throughout my life. I’m so excited to travel to Kenya and see how God uses and changes us.
I pray that during this season you can rest in the assurance of Christ and remember all that He has done and continues to do for you.
Krismasi Njema! (Merry Christmas!)
Thursday, December 8, 2016
There are times in life where the path divides. One goes to the left and is wide. Friends can walk together side by side, laughing and holding hands, telling jokes and dancing. They are together. The other, to the right, is obscured with overhanging bushes and thorns and the path is barely wide enough for one person to place foot in front of the other, much less allow two people to skip along side by side. It is a lonely path.
The left beckons to us, promising false security in riches and popularity and darkness. The right doesn’t look pleasant at all, but we know that it’s the right one to choose…because we know what lies at the end of each of the paths.
So we gather our hiking stick and step off to the right, leaving behind a multitude waiting in line for the left path. They call out to us, warning us, laughing at us, pointing at us. They don’t understand why we’d choose such a narrow, seemingly lonely path.
We step onto the path and as we continue, their laughs fade. But as we trek further away we begin to understand why they didn’t understand—in fact, we begin to doubt our choice.
Prayer meetings on Tuesday mornings consist of ourselves and God. Nobody else shows up. We always encourage but are never encouraged. We comfort but are not comforted. We listen but are not listened to. We show hospitality but are never cared for. We invite but are never invited. We remember others but are forgotten.
And thus it is sometimes easier to languish on the forest floor, with our feet hanging off the edge of the path and our backs pressed against the hard-packed earthen wall.
Though we have the Creator of the universe on our side, there is still a very human pang buried somewhere in our hearts that comes out once in a while when we fall and nobody is around to lift us up.
We carry this burden around within us, sealing it up beneath a façade of happiness and peace and hope—which we might very well have, as we should, being Whose we are—but we hide this hurting part of us lest somebody see and only cause the pain to spread. We find it easier to not let on than to express, but every day our heart is breaking from the heaviness upon it due to lack of iron to sharpen against (Proverbs 27:17).
Sometimes we need somebody to tell us who we are—not to read it or see it or hear it in a sermon, but for somebody to tell us individually how unique, dearly loved, chosen, accepted, and seen we are. It’s one thing to tell others this Truth, but it’s another (just as necessary) to be told.
This time of hurt is not in vain, dear one. There are lonely path days when we walk hand in hand with God. There are not so lonely path days when we walk hand in hand with God. A beautiful part about being a disciple of Jesus Christ is that we are never alone. We have a Friend, a Father, a Helper, a Redeemer, a Savior.
But there are still those lonely path days when the going is dark. Do not lose heart, chosen child of God. He has a plan far greater than we shall ever be able to understand (at least on this Earth). These walks of loneliness are sharpening us in lieu of having other iron to sharpen against. They are preparing us to see the lonely. They are preparing us to love fiercely with God’s Love. They are preparing us to be steadfast and loyal and to never give up. They are preparing us to be better, purer, set-apart vessels to carry the Gospel to the deepest, darkest, dankest places of this world because we have a flame that has not let up its flickering, but has grown into a blaze as we’ve tended it along the path, hand in hand with God.
Being a disciple is difficult, but it is rewarding.
And then…there are voices ahead on the path. We’ve come across fellow disciples running the race! We link hands and help each other along the path, lifting each other, praying, encouraging, comforting, listening, speaking life and truth and joy into each other’s lives as we trek. We have found fellowship. We have found iron.
So press on. The times spent seeking God on a lonely path do not go unnoticed by your Creator. He is preparing you. He is strengthening you in your weakness. Continue being faithful. Continue encouraging and listening and comforting and loving. Continue reaching out.
You are loved. You are seen. You are chosen. You are made for a purpose that goes beyond your wildest imagination. You are created for a mission. You are accepted. You are rejoiced over. You are the apple of His eye. You are a son. You are a daughter. You are a child of God. You are made righteous. You are beautiful. You are fearfully and wonderfully made.
You are so very beloved by Yahweh.