Tuesday, March 18, 2014

The Glory of a Garden; When the typical "Mission Trip High" is substituted with a heavy heart.

            Before the fall, God planted a garden. This was His choice of environment for perfect existence and holy communion with man. We have soiled His oasis ground with the sinful soil of our self-sufficient hearts. Broken limbs lie rotten, making vulnerable the flower beds which had perfectly rested under their shade. The tulips droop with sorrow, begging to put their heads back into the ground from which they came. The freedom of the morning dew reminds the plants that despite their constant fight against gravity, God has not forgotten about them. Gravity always wins in our severed and sinful garden. No matter how much anti-aging cream you apply to your face at night, how much recording of daily routine experiences you write down, or how often you exercise that six pack that you’re desperately trying to get before summer, wrinkles will outline your facial features, your memory will fade with changing routines of different life phases, and let’s be honest, too much definition accompanying your wrinkles will make you look like a day old doughnut. 

(Don’t worry, I’ll tie this all in... Just remember that gravity is important, even though our culture does everything humanly possible to ignore and reject it.)

 But, praise God that He created gravity.

            I recently had the opportunity to serve with a group of fellow students during our Spring break. We spent the week helping out in the community of Frakes, Kentucky, doing various construction projects in connection with the wonderful organization of Henderson Settlement. 

A quick shout out to my new family of brothers and sisters that I served with, who I am so thankful for! 

I love you guys.

Down there we were able to beautify the living situations of a few families, whose gardens (figurative) had overgrown to the point of helplessness. Kentucky is nicknamed the “Bluegrass State” because of the wealthy soil that yields healthy pasture land with plentiful bluegrass. Despite the nutrient-wealthy soil, the community that we served was poverty-stricken. The brokenness filled my heart with a heavy sorrow. A friend from the trip expressed what he was feeling by saying that the way his heart breaks for the community in need is the way God looks at us. God’s heart breaks with the brokenness that He sees in our lives. However, when we come to him with our thorny branches, He puts roses on the ends. Amidst the path of broken garden stones our God, the perfect potter, creates new life and resurrection. He brings us back to a garden existence as our hearts our nourished through His love. Having the opportunity to tangibly improve the brokenness that a family was living in will be impressed on my heart for a long time. And as I consider what we did, I know that in the same way, God wants to be allowed to heal our ruined state.

             Disclaimer- I have not been blessed with the gift of creatively expressing my thoughts through beautiful words so I’m sorry if my writing was a bit sloppy. Praise God for those English majors because I’m not one of them. But, what I think I’m trying to say is that we are only here for a short amount of time. And these 3.5 seconds that we exist in the great scheme of the world’s existence are vital. It can either be a constant combat with gravity, or a proclamation of thanksgiving in our completely submission to the supreme God. Submission is not a thing that we should fear or fight, in regards to giving up of ourselves to Jesus. Remember, He loves gardens. He wants our lives to grow, blossom, be nourished with beautiful friendships, and bask in the glory of his presence. He wants to redeem ANY malnourished roots in our hearts into a healthy tree ripe with fruit. So, let's let Him. Let's use the resources of each other to plow our soil and get rid of the sin in our hearts. Let's grow together and produce fruit for God's glory, so we can better help others. Let the brokenness be used for motivation and not discouragement! (Check out Joshua 1:9 -good stuff!) God wants it redeemed just as much as we do. And He has placed us on the earth to help with just that. 

"And the Lord will guide you continually and satisfy your desire in scorched places and make your bones strong; and you shall be like a watered garden, like a spring of water, whose waters do not fail."

Praise God!

Tuesday, December 31, 2013

North Dakota January- these words should never align.  
A bitter chill the only brew, and a warm end there is no sign.
when all that kept me from college fell through,
A garden of waiting was sown, in queries of what do I do? 

When seventy hours is a simple work week
the friends that know this first hand with every free hour you seek.
And the family, a thousand miles away, 
might know my love despite distance, is what I pray.

Moving home in May
with the apple blossoms in full array 
meant leaving good friends in the oil field.
A tearful transition, but a necessary yield.

My God faithful watches no matter where I stand.
And I watched as He gently took my hand.
He began to show me the importance of waiting
too often a process I'm tempted towards hating. 

Waiting; "missing out" it taunts.
But, "Sweetly broken,
Holy surrender."
This, with joy, is our only response.

To Chicago, He led me,
A windy but glorious city.
With sweet friends I thank him for 
and a new time of life to adore.

A period of waiting has been this past year
but the blessings ensued allow me to hear
my heavenly father's wishes to quiet my heart
and "Be still child, I know what this new year will start."

"but wait, oh wait,
see how the morning breaks.
It's the simplest of love songs, but it's all our hearts can take.
And though we lose our stake,
Heaven is where we make it
even in the smallest places, can a garden grow"

Adieu to the memorable 2013
this hastened year of much growing.
Hello to an unknown 2014,
Lord, keep me close through the seeds you are sowing.

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Reminiscing the goodness of God's grace over my recent past, I gaze out the spacious picture window at the scene set before me. Snowflakes settle gently outside, nonthreatening in appearance and yet their presence keeps me curled up in my new Christmas fleece. I enjoy the white glory from the warm indoors as a cup of tea rests in my lap, content. The mountains in the not-so-distant distance continually direct my thoughts to upward praises. Where they should be on this holiday celebration. A current undertaking of mine, the recipient of my free time, is the book, "Great Expectations" by Charles Dickens. I have never considered reading to be an undertaking, it has always been a pleasure, until it became an activity for which I could not find time. As I read of Pip's personal struggles with the difference of where he finds himself in life and where he would like to be, I am caught up in thoughts of comparison in my own life. I would like to be a better daughter, sister, friend. I have great expectations for my life, which I have yet to meet. As, I assume, many others hope to see personal growth in areas of their own lives, I want to spread a message of hope for this often discouraging undertaking. There is One who has met all expectations, not only of His own, but of a Holy Triune God. Jesus Christ came to this earth, as a baby. He lived a perfect life on this stained and sinful world.

He exceeded all expectations, to bring you joy.

The anticipation has ceased today with the birth of a long awaited King, and yet the anticipation of His return continues. The Christmas story is one of Joy. What expectations do we have that Jesus has not proceeded in fulfillment?  We need not fear the unknown future, or relive a past with our King in power.

Our value is in what God has done for us.

And so I sit in meditative, joyful  anticipation, aware of all that He has done for me.

Merry Christmas.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Searching for Love.

In school, my teachers always said never to preface your work with a disclaimer. Well, here's my disclaimer...

I wrote this a few weeks ago on the way to Edinburgh for travel weekend. I forgot about it and just found it today. I wasn’t going to post it but then I thought, why not? I reread what I had written and was encouraged by it. Even though these were my thoughts from two weeks ago, they're still true. I hope this post will serve as an encouragement to anyone who might read it.

October 28, 2011. A busy bus through the English countryside. The sun streams through the windows and lights up roadside fields. IPods plugged in, conversations buzzing. Edinburgh excitement is in the air. 5 weeks into school and 6 weeks until Christmas. I count my blessings and give thanks.

Thanks for being thousands of miles away from home?
Thanks for the homesick feelings and loneliness felt all too often in the past weeks?

A verse runs through my mind, “Whoever loves his father and mother more than me, is not worthy of me.”

Wait. Isn’t Love a fruit of the Spirit? Since when does it separate us from God? Imperfect, selfish love leads to unsatisfied, ungrateful longings. I want to experience perfect love. The only one who can offer a life of perfect love is He who is love. Leaving everyone I know and moving to a different country hasn’t been as wonderful as I thought. It’s been difficult, frustrating, lonely.  It’s been life changing. But amidst the darkness, God speaks. He always comforts. Always provides.

ALWAYS loves.

And as I stand in the dark, I have a hand to hold. I am thankful to be away from everyone I know because I grasp His hand tighter. I can step forward completely trusting in His faithfulness as I gaze back on past memories. I am thankful for all I have at home. I am so thankful I have people to miss! A new mindset guides my steps. A mindset of thankfulness. Gratitude for everything. Perfect love. I tell myself I will never take anything for granted. But, I know I will fail. And even when I fail, he loves me. –Perfect love. Life changing, and I get to experience this?

“Whoever loves his father or mother more than me is not worthy of me.”

I had to move to a different continent to fully understand the importance of this verse. And from thousands of miles away, my heart is warmed. He holds my heart. Perfect love is no longer a search. It's written in the every day of life. As I count my blessings, I see God’s hand.

He offers a life of perfect love, and I accept.

Life changing. 

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Update after a hard week

Reality- This week has been a roller coaster. A crazy tilt-a-whirl of emotions swirling, ranging from nerves and excitement, to exhaustion and a bit of hopelessness. I thought I would make it through the first week of school without crying, until that dream came crashing down about an hour ago. In all truthfulness it was just a few tears, explainable because my brother is going into surgery tomorrow, and I won't be able to talk to him until afterwords due to the drastic time difference and such. It also doesn't help that I'm sick, and that there's e a mold problem in the entry way where I'm living... Yeah it's gross! Despite the few tears flooding my eyes this afternoon, I've spent most of my first week happily enjoying the beautiful, record autumn high temperatures for England, and the peaceful fields filled with sheep surrounding the school. Yesterday I walked through the Lake District and saw some of the prettiest countryside I have ever seen! It's raining right now for the first time since being here but I'm comfortably curled up, and eating ritz crackers with peanut butter and chocolate spread. My sunshine for the day. I've met some great people and have made some close friends. But most importantly, the Lord has already revealed many things in my heart, that in order to draw closer to him, I must completely surrender to Him. He has pointed out robber's dens in my soul and giving them up to Him, I am constantly reminded of His undying, unconditional love. Even in the first week, I have grown closer to God... Growing in Grace. I am learning that He truly does grant blessings to me which are sufficient for each new day. While spending some time alone in the Bible the other day, a verse in 1 Corinthians stuck with me and I wanted to share it.

1 Corinthians 3: 7-9, "So neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God who gives the growth. He who plants and He who waters are one, and each will receive his wages according to his labor. For we are God's fellow worker's, God's field, God's building."
What does it mean to be God's field or God's building? Well I think it has something to do with the fact that this journey, life on earth, is simply the test. I miss home, but I have to remind myself that even home for me, 2570 Golf dr., is not home. Heaven is my home. I am a part of God's field on earth but He is the one who sows the seed and reaps the crop. Sometimes the crop in my life is thin and at other times it's abundant. But I don't need to worry about whether or not it can be harvested because that's God's job. He is the Master. The farmer who resows and fertilizes when the crop does not produce what is expected. And as he looks down at my pitiful field, He sees Jesus' perfection. In so doing, God continues to be gracious and loving.

This has been a hard week, but it has also been a week of God's blessings, molding and changing me to be more like Him. Even though I miss everyone, I am encouraged in the Lord. I am thankful for His love, patience, and kindness. I know that He is the only one who will satisfy my heart, and my homesickness. I am grateful.

(Ambleside -A village on the Lake District)

"According to the grace of God given to me, like a skilled master builder I laid a foundation, and someone else is building upon it. Let each one take care how he builds upon it. For no one can lay a foundation other than that which is Jesus Christ." 
-1 Cor. 3:10-11

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Leaving on a Jet Plane

Since leaving Wenatchee on Tuesday morning, I have seen the Lord working through my travels to protect me, comfort me, and keep me! For instance, before I even left Pangborn airport, I decided to read some letters that I had been given by a few friends. Stupid idea! I was fine while I sat there waiting for the plane but as soon as I started reading the kind words that my close friends had written me, I lost it. I left to compose myself but, when I returned to the boarding gate my puffy eyes gave my emotions away. A lady who was sitting behind me turned around and saw that I had been crying. I didn't say anything to her but she just looked at me and said, "I know how you feel. I do it every year. It get's easier." This was so helpful to hear and I boarded the plane without a tear in my eyes. Sure enough this kind lady was sitting right next to me on the plane. God is so good!

Flight two, Seattle to Minneapolis... I only cried once when, "Leaving on a jet plane" by John Denver played as my ipod was on shuffle. If you've never heard that song, look it up and you'll understand. Instant tears. I sat next to a girl who had just graduated from college and was flying to London by herself as well. Striking up a conversation, I quickly learned that she was a foreign exchange student to France when she was my age. We had a lot in common and sitting by her helped me to get excited for my time abroad. God is so good!

Flight three, from Minneapolis to London... I sat next to a grandfatherly older man who has flown to England three times a year for the past 30 years! He grew up in England and told me all about the customs process that I would encounter upon UK entry, which I was nervous about. His help calmed my nerves. God is so good!

I landed in London. Walked right up to the customs gate without having to wait in a que, because if you enter the UK as a student, you have your own line. The border patrol guy who checked my passport and documents was super nice. He even asked what my future plans were when I returned to the States! Everything went smoothly and I am so thankful!

It's one in the morning, and I fear the time change is going to be difficult to get used to! But tomorrow will be a very exciting, jam-packed day of sightseeing, and I know I will have many stories to share afterwords...

God is always good!

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Beginning the Adventure...

I leave for England in 6 days! Nervous? Yes! Excited? Also yes. I plan on using my blog to share my stories, experiences, challenges, and of course, adventures! I can't wait to see how God uses me over there, and changes me into a greater servant for His kingdom! I started packing today and I realized that it's going to be difficult. Nothing I can't handle however, there might be some sitting on the luggage to fit it all in and some definite praying that my carry-on is actually allowed as such. It's harder then I thought it would be because I don't know what to expect. I've never lived in England before. With limited room at the school, I have to really make sure that what I bring is practical. I can't bring all of my coats(I have a thing for winter coats in case you didn't know) and I can only bring one pair of heels. Heartbreaking, I know. I started packing, and I didn't get far. As you can see, I got a little distracted...

Side note- I've always wanted to own a cute vintage boutique! I had a lot of fun with this... (It's supposed to be ridiculous, if you didn't catch that)

These are things that I'm bringing to England with me. I got the rain boots and the luggage for my birthday so now I'm set! I'm really glad that I know my parents love me because I can't think of many other cases where giving your kid a set of suitcases for their 18th birthday would be considered an act of love. Thankfully, in this case it is! I know that as I leave the country I go with the prayers, encouragements, and blessings of everyone back home. This picture shows what I'm taking with me but, it doesn't show what I'm leaving behind. Even though I'm excited for my adventures abroad, part of my heart, a big part, will always be at home with my family, friends, at The River Academy, and with everyone who has been involved somehow in my life! If you fit into this category, which if you're reading this then you probably do, know that I will be thinking and missing you as I'm away.

This is a quote from the amazing book on the ground in the picture. "The human side in us fears the unknown, Lord. Give us the faith we need to step out of our dim caves and into your guiding light." -Corrie Ten Boom 'Each New Day'. I would covet any prayers over the next week as I seek this faith mentioned and trust in God for all I need.

And that reminds me, I still have to pack!