Thursday, June 30, 2016

I will not forget you. {adoption journey update}

Where to begin. It's been 18 months since I started the adoption journey. I know in the "adoption world" that is technically NOT a long time, I know personally many people who have had a much longer wait.

In a lot of ways, it has felt a lot longer than 18 months. It has been and continues to be a roller coaster. As much as I love adventure, roller coasters aren't my fav.

However, today my heart is settled and can be grateful for the last 18 months. I can't say I have had that attitude the entire journey, tomorrow very well could be a different story, but grateful is where my heart has landed today. This has been by far the MOST shaping journey of my life. It has had some pretty incredible highs and the lowest of lows I have ever experienced, and I am grateful. So grateful.

When the wait seems never ending and emotionally exhausting it is so easy to believe the lie that God must of forgotten about me. I'll be honest, I have bought that {LIE} many times.

This morning as I was up early doing stuff in the kitchen, I found myself asking God "could you please show me, today, in some tangible way that You have not forgotten me on my journey."

I needed to hear Him, to feel Him and to somehow know in a tangible way that He still has my story moving forward when all signs seem like its at a stand still.

I have a friend that sends out texts of Scripture pretty much EVERY DAY. I had been at work for over 30 minutes when the Scripture of the day came through on my phone. *I haven't talked to this friend in a while, he had no clue about my prayer that morning or where I was at in my adoption journey.

When the Scripture came through, I was alone in the salon.

The tears started falling down my face as I read these Words ---

Isaiah 49:15-16

“Can a mother forget the baby at her breast and have no compassion on the child she has borne?
Though she may forget, I will not forget you! See, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands; your walls are ever before me.

I WILL NOT FORGET YOU!

I sat there and wept.

I found Isaiah 49 on my Bible App and had to read more...

Isaiah 49:17-23
Soon your descendants will come back, and all who are trying to destroy you will go away. Look around you and see, for all your children will come back to you. As surely as I live,” says the Lord, “they will be like jewels or bridal ornaments for you to display. “Even the most desolate parts of your abandoned land will soon be crowded with your people. Your enemies who enslaved you will be far away. The generations born in exile will return and say, ‘We need more room! It’s crowded here!’ Then you will think to yourself, ‘Who has given me all these descendants? For most of my children were killed, and the rest were carried away into exile. I was left here all alone. Where did all these people come from? Who bore these children? Who raised them for me?’” This is what the Sovereign Lord says: “See, I will give a signal to the godless nations. They will carry your little sons back to you in their arms; they will bring your daughters on their shoulders. Kings and queens will serve you and care for all your needs. They will bow to the earth before you and lick the dust from your feet. Then you will know that I am the Lord. Those who trust in me will never be put to shame.

In the NIV version the last verse says --
Then you will know that I am the Lord; those who {HOPE} in me will not be disappointed.

*emphasis mine

There's that word again {HOPE}.

I can't make this up.

I was a train wreck when my client walked through the door.

I asked for Him to show me in a tangible way that He hadn't forgotten me.

He answered through His Word. Through a friend acting on a prompting and sending a Scripture out in a mass text.

He heard my cry. He graciously answered.

He has not forgotten me.

I know I am not alone in thinking/feeling that the Lord has forgotten...{fill in the blank}. If we are honest, we have all been there.

The ONLY anchor I have to hold on to is HIM and His word. And every day when those doubts of Who He is and what He has asked of me come -- I have to CHOOSE to land on TRUTH. {Honestly -- I have failed more at this than I have succeeded, ask those who know me best.} BUT, TODAY, I choose to ANCHOR my heart in that He has NOT forgotten me.

He is Sovereign.

He has the perfect baby girl {for me} picked out, she just isn't ready yet!

HE HAS THE FINAL WORD! {Thank you Mandy F. for this reminder that continually goes through my head.}

I know people hesitate but want to ask what's going on -- the few but simple details are, I have my home study updated (they only last a year) and my agency is renewing my contract that expires Aug. 3. Since August 3 last year, I have now had 70 birth mom/baby situations sent to me. Currently I have 2 birth moms viewing my profile. I used to dwell on the number, I don't anymore. God knows what {her} number will be. I am just overly anal and had to have a spreadsheet to keep them all straight. :P

In the midst of it all, my heart chooses to have HOPE tonight, and rest in that I AM NOT FORGOTTEN.

Neither are you. :)


Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Adoption Journey - a year of redemption

January 20, 2015. The day I made a decision that has become a life changer for me. A year ago today, God spoke very loudly to me sitting at a picnic table on the back deck of the Harmony House in Harmons, Jamaica, while on a missions trip. You see, I had been resisting His leading for quite a long time, out right telling Him NO, I wasn't ready or going to adopt UNTIL I was married. Sure, adoption was on my radar but for many years I wanted it to be on MY timeline, not His. I'm so grateful for Laci Thurn who loved me enough to speak the truth the night before that caused my heart to race and my fears to rise to the top and also caused me to not sleep a wink that night as I wrestled this decision out with the Lord. I will never forget that moment the next morning (1.20.2015) I was reading through the team devotion material that I had personally written a couple months prior...the story was Esther, and it was my turn to lead that morning. The question was "what risk are you being asked to take so that others lives can be redeemed?" That question cut to the heart. I knew. I knew loud and clear what God was asking me, and I also knew I had a bucket load of fears to go with my answer. Fears that NOW are no where present.

Esther 4:13-14 NLT
Mordecai sent this reply to Esther: “Don’t think for a moment that because you’re in the palace you will escape when all other Jews are killed. If you keep quiet at a time like this, deliverance and relief for the Jews will arise from some other place, but you and your relatives will die. Who knows if perhaps you were made queen for just such a time as this?”

I remember God speaking to my heart and saying, "Amy, I will not force you to adopt, it is your choice...if you don't, I will bring redemption to that child another way...but, also, if you don't, YOU are the one that will miss out."

Clear as day was His call for me to adopt. In my answer I wrote was this -

"this scares the crap out of me but Lord, I am willing."

Once I said Yes, the fear that had been gripping my heart for so long was slowly releasing...I can't explain it.


FEARS GONE. (No coincidence that the song No Longer Slaves by Bethel Music is playing on my Pandora right now as I am typing this. It is a song about how as followers of Jesus, we are no longer slaves to FEAR, we are children of God...seriously, I can't make this up.)

This journey - WOWZA - it has been the BEST and the hardest journey of Faith I have ever taken.

Everything anyone had ever told me about adoption has been shown to be true. The good, the bad, the hard, the ugly, the beautiful...all of it.

I want this post to be about the BEAUTIFUL.

Yes, it has been hard, adoption is NOT for the faint of heart, I have learned that first hand. Right now, it seems the hardest...there's no end in sight. I have been told "no, I am sorry she chose another family" more times than I can count. I have been chosen by one, only for that situation to have many complications, and I have NO idea right now how it will end...I seriously cannot tell you what is happening...it is a ROLLER COASTER.

BUT

IT IS BEAUTIFUL

...and even when I am sitting at home, when my heart aches to be in Jamaica with this years team, when I don't hold a baby in my arms yet... I have an un-explainable peace. My heart is at rest, knowing that MY GOD Authors the BEST stories, and even when I can't see what He is doing, when I can't hear His voice, when I feel distant from Him....my heart KNOWS THIS - HE IS AT WORK. He has not forgotten. He is present. And my roots are DEEP in Him and the truth I KNOW about Him. He IS FAITHFUL.

So - here is the Beautiful of my journey this year. What a ride! (and it's not over yet!!)

Lessons Learned on My Adoption Journey -

What God authors, HE PROVIDES for. I am BLOWN AWAY at how He has provided for this adoption. BLOWN AWAY. I have learned that money should NEVER stand in the way of what God is asking me to do...it's ALL HIS. I didn't have a dime set aside for this journey when I started. Some may think that is being irresponsible...but, for me, God was was asking me to trust HIM to completely provide. To take a LEAP of Faith and see what He could do...to trust that He would provide EVERY penny needed...and that is EXACTLY what He has done. My heart is forever grateful for how He has used the generosity of others to make this possible. ONLY HIM. He has Authored AND provided.

I am not alone. One of my many fears was I never wanted to adopt alone, I never wanted to be a single mom...do you see a theme there, (I NEVER WANTED) - God has shown me in INCREDIBLE ways that although I am single and adopting, I AM NOT ALONE. He has held my hand and walked through EVERY single step with me...from meeting with social workers, to home study visits to fingerprinting and the many countless nights I have laid in bed and cried myself to sleep...HE IS THERE. He has brought people into each day that I thought I was walking alone, people that have tangibly been HIS presence to me. I have always been taught that God is ALWAYS with me...I'VE NOW LIVED IT. He is present and even in my darkest moments, HE IS THERE.

My VILLAGE - I am blessed. Seriously. I could NEVER of imagined the village God has given me for this journey. I'm humbled. I am in awe of the love out pouring from others. Literally Hundreds of people. Seriously...this child will NEVER be able to comprehend the world of love God has waiting for her. I've tried my best to say THANK YOU to my village but how do you make people really see the gratitude of your heart? Complete strangers have offered gifts and love and encouragement. Family and friends have showered me to the point where I don't even know what to do with it all. And it's not just stuff. It's words of encouragement at the needed moment, texts of Scripture, prayers at the exact time needed, hugs, a smile from across the gym at church...it is countless ways I have been extended the love of Christ on this journey. I am blown away. Thank You, Lord. Bless these People who make my village so completely wonderful.

Value of Authenticity - I have learned the value that comes from just being real. Friends, it is OK to just be real, to feel every emotion, to cry when needed, to ask why, to SHOUT for joy when your heart may burst, to sit in silence night after night, to be down at times, to pour out your heart in God's presence...to just BE. I have walked through so many highs and lows on this journey. It really is best described as a roller coaster. I have felt the highest of heights where I thought my heart couldn't feel any more joy and I have plummeted days later to the lowest of lows wondering why, things just not making sense. Just like on a roller coaster ride - you have NO control. You just have to buckle the seat belt and be securely anchored to God and hold on tight to the lap bar when you think you're gonna fly out and then at times raise your hands high and scream for joy...when we are authentic, it allows others around us to be authentic as well. I have learned to buckle up and ENJOY the ride, and P.S. I'm not a huge roller coaster fan.


Dig Deep - I have learned the value in having your roots planted deep. You HAVE to. I saw this quote today - When the root is deep, there's no reason to fear the wind. - The first thing it made me think of was the incredible parents I have been blessed with, parents that taught and still teach me to love Jesus and to go deep with Him. Parents that planted seeds in my heart of Scripture and desiring God. Those seeds took root and those roots continue to grow down deep and I am so grateful because when on the journey of adoption, "wind and storms" are inevitable, they WILL come. I have learned to just dig in deeper in my faith in Him when those moments have come. Moments that make you want to quit and go back to the comfort zone you were in. But, you can't. I have had to trust that He truly knows what He is doing. There's something beautiful about that...knowing that HE already knows. And I can trust HIM.


The JOURNEY is just as important as the DESTINATION - As much as I am aching to have my baby home, wherever she is, I have learned to just lean in to the lessons of the journey. The time spent with my Jesus has been the sweetest time I have ever known. I have grown so much in my faith in Him. He has answered many prayers, so many. Some prayers, the answer has been NO, that's not what I have for you. And in the NO's, HE IS STILL GOOD. Because I have seen first hand His adoption story unfold in many lives before my journey, I KNOW I can trust that even in the No's - He is still at work and His plan for me is THE BEST. The journey has been LIFE CHANGING. I'm not the same person I was a year ago today. ONLY HIM.



A year ago, this room was my bedroom, now, it holds so much joy, so much love given by so many. I spend my mornings in here, reading my Bible and drinking coffee. I look around the room and I see the faces of SO MANY loved ones who have generously given for my daughter and I and I weep for joy. She is loved. She's not even here yet and my journey to her has brought so much redemption in my own life.


"Adoption is hard, adoption is worth it." Anyone that tells you it's hard will ALWAYS follow it up by saying IT'S WORTH IT. It is messy. It has caused me to see the ugliness of my own heart. It has helped me to embrace God's grace and loving forgiveness in a whole new way. There are many uncertainties on the road of adoption and it's hard to hand the steering wheel over and over to the Driver, but I've learned I HAVE TO. God knows where this journey is taking me, and I will trust HIM - EVEN WHEN ITS HARD AND I CANNOT SEE - I will believe with ALL my heart that He is up to something GREAT. It's Who He is. He is a GOOD - GOOD - Father.

I am so GRATEFUL for the broken yet BEAUTIFUL journey of Adoption...the BEST is yet to come!



Friday, March 21, 2014

2014 - A Year of OPPORTUNITY.
This year has been and continues to be FULL of opportunity. Opportunity to serve, here at home, at my job daily, in my church and to the ends of the earth and I couldn't be MORE EXCITED! I am reminded of

John 10:10
The thief’s purpose is to steal and kill and destroy. My purpose is to give them a rich and satisfying life.

I can honestly say I have experienced both sides of this verse this year and I am embracing the latter. God has blessed more than I could imagine and I am walking through every door He opens!

That said, here's what the year looks like!

January '14-God gave me an incredible week leading and serving in Harmons, Jamaica with Won by One. It truly was a refreshing and healing week for me. I heard God speak very clear messages to me all week long and I experienced His presence through time spent with Him, through my Jamaican brothers and sisters in Christ and also through my team. It was truly another life changing trip.

April '14- I have another opportunity to go and serve for 3 weeks in Peru and Ecuador.

May '14/June '14 - this summer I have a new opportunity that I am very excited about! Won by One to Jamaica {the ministry I have served with yearly for the last 6 years through my church} has asked me to come and mentor their summer staff. Their summer staff is comprised of 7-8 college students from the states. The summer staff serves for 8 weeks in Harmons as they help lead the teams that come through each week. I will be traveling down May 25-June 8 & June 22-July 6 to go and serve along side of them as a Spiritual Director. Discipleship is a great passion of mine and I am most excited about mentoring these students and helping them on their journey's of knowing and experiencing Christ. Please pray with me for clear direction from God as to the needs they have and how I can be used in their lives to make an eternal impact.

October '14 - Peru - My church will be taking a team back to the same children's home in Peru that I will be visiting in April and I am excited to go and serve once again with them.

You might say....WOW, THAT'S ALOT! You are SO RIGHT, it is! And my heart couldn't be beating any faster as I type this...as I am listening to "the Lord our God is ever Faithful, never changing through the ages...You're the Lord our God....we won't move without You, we wont move without You Lord!" He has shown His faithfulness over and over to me and I am determined to be grateful for EVERYTHING He gives. He has given me GREAT OPPORTUNITY this year and I want it ALL!

Would you pray with me...

Pray for God's presence to continue to be tangible and sustaining.
Pray that I stay healthy in all of these travels and while at home.
Pray that I would take every opportunity to tell my story at home, to my family and friends, to my clients at work and to take EVERY OPPORTUNITY God gives here to lift His name high!


Humbled and Grateful,
Amy

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

ready

READY~Lindsay McCaul
Broken, I come broken
Eyes closed, Heart wide open
I'm ready to get back to where we used to be
I lift up my face
Pleading for grace
and you are..

Chorus
Ready, to answer every time I call
You are waiting to catch the pieces as they fall
You've seen every tear
You're standing by to draw me near
I am finally down on my knees
And you are ready

You never asked me for perfection
I'd never make it if I tried
But I kept searching for the chance to clear my blame
For my foolish pride
With you waiting all the while
And you are...(Chorus)


~I've pretty much had this song on repeat since I've been here.

I came on this trip with 2 words--{great anticipation}.

No expectations.

No real plan.

Just {ready} for whatever God had waiting for me.

Have you ever hit a dry season in your journey? A time where you had allowed yourself to become so drained that you had nothing left to give?? That's exactly where I found my thirsty heart prior to this trip. If I'm being honest--I was spent...I'd become lazy in my time with Christ...and I had allowed the cares of this life to weigh me down.

I relate to the words of this song so much...broken--I come broken, eyes closed heart WIDE OPEN. It has been great to get away from life as I know it...in times of solitude {here} there's no place to go--and I have been "forced" to deal with the state of my heart. I realized I had been ignoring the nudgings of The Lord to deal with issues in my heart that were not pleasing to Him. I've found grace and redemption in repentance. {I'm READY to get back to where we used to be} My time with The Lord has been so sweet. Sometimes I think I lose sight and feeling of what grace and forgiveness looks and feels like. It's a sweet spot to be in. God has been speaking so much to me on this journey and I realize that's no different than time in the states--its just that I've slowed down to actually listen. I like the part of the song that says--

You never asked me for perfection
I'd never make it if I tried
But I kept searching for the chance to clear my blame
For my foolish pride
With you waiting all the while

Those words sink deep--and I find myself in a state of repentance again--to think that I have the power to change myself...I admit I am a perfectionist...and God has been revealing to me that I have been trying to be a perfectionist at my walk with Him--that task is impossible. My load has felt so much lighter as I am learning that the mask of perfectionism has to come off...there is only ONE Who is Perfect--and it is ONLY IN HIM--that I am complete.

So--not to be self centered but so far this trip has been one of solitude...self reflection and repentance...and sweet fellowship with my Savior. Sweetly broken--wholly surrendered.

I'm ready for whatever He has next!

PEOPLE-

I love the people here---both Peruvians and North Americans.

My Peruvian friends feel like family--I know it's culture here and also how they are training the children---but I cannot get enough of the way they greet each other, including me. It seriously makes you feel like a million bucks. It has been convicting to me--do I let those that I love feel the same way {these precious people} make me feel MULTIPLE TIMES A DAY!?! It's something I want to remember and not go back to being the same--it's so simple how the way we greet each other can make {or break} someone of feeling valued. The simple daily greetings have filled my cup up!

I'm so grateful to have this opportunity to live here in their community, to be accepted as family, to see all the progress that God has allowed to go on here...it's seriously unbelievable to look back and to see how far God has brought this place and to see the redemption of lives that is taking place...incredible!

Meal times are probably my favorite time of the day--it's community. It's praying together, sharing a meal, hearing lots of laughter--it's great times of joy. Real JOY. {oh and real good food too!}

I find myself just observing the children through out the time I am with them--if it's true {which it is} that we are to come to the Father as a child--I've got a lot of learning to do. As I was watching them play--I was caught up and lost in the uninhibited downright craziness of fun they were having! No being serious--no wondering about insecurities or if they were being judged by others--just pure squeals of delight in enjoying one another and their time together. Not a care in the world--especially one of the lil guys who was running so fast on the playground equipment he completely forgot to see the drop off and ran right off it face first into the sand! Oops-a-daisy!!! Didn't even phase him, he just got up and laughed and then ran off again! It was priceless. Oh I want to learn to be like a child again--I challenge us all, next time you're in the presence of a child--take time to LEARN. Learn about yourself, learn about the Father and don't leave that time the same person you were when you entered it. I LOVE these kiddos and am learning so much from them!

There is a group of us North Americans here {7} who are diving into the Word together 3 times a week. {Jim and TKay, David M., Ayla, Tony and Katie Hernandez and myself.} God has also brought 2 other couples {Corey and Rachel / Woody and Sylvia} this past week and I am loving these opportunities to connect with new brothers and sisters in Christ and learn from them as well as growing together with life long friends. Our community time has been precious filled with worship and challenging studies. I am learning so much from these precious people. Lesson learned--let God use the people in your life to teach you more about HIM and His word. I'm getting a front row seat of believers that LIVE OUT His words...it's truly inspiring!

SERVING--

I came to serve. And I am loving it! Whether that looks like making a menu, a grocery list or a meal, or walking to the market to get fruits and vegetables to picking up a paint brush, or a broom or even a screw driver--my little taste of heaven on earth yesterday was getting up to fix all the little chicas hair for their city parade...I'm grateful that I get to help in whatever capacity that looks like. TKay has made me my own little list and it's been fun to get to be creative and help her out. Serving others definitely brings joy. I've learned that when you just say "whatever You want, Lord" He lets you do what you love. I mean come on now...I'm getting to love and serve through cooking {one of my favorite things in the world} and also through being creative {who God has made me to be} I'm overwhelmed by HIS GOODNESS.

ENCOURAGEMENT--

I will close this post with encouragement I have received from Scripture--His word is ALIVE!

Lord, you alone are my inheritance, my cup of blessing. You guard all that is mine. (Psalms 16:5 NLT)

But in my distress I cried out to the Lord; yes, I prayed to my God for help. He heard me from his sanctuary; my cry to him reached his ears. You light a lamp for me. The Lord, my God, lights up my darkness. God’s way is perfect. All the Lord ’s promises prove true. He is a shield for all who look to him for protection. God arms me with strength, and he makes my way perfect. (Psalms 18:6, 28, 30, 32 NLT)

The commandments of the Lord are right, bringing joy to the heart. The commands of the Lord are clear, giving insight for living. (Psalms 19:8 NLT)


How can I know all the sins lurking in my heart? Cleanse me from these hidden faults. Keep your servant from deliberate sins! Don’t let them control me. Then I will be free of guilt and innocent of great sin. May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing to you, O Lord, my rock and my redeemer. (Psalms 19:12-14 NLT)

Show your strength, God, so no one can miss it. We are out singing the good news! (Psalm 21:13 MSG)

This is what the Sovereign Lord, the Holy One of Israel, says: “In repentance and rest is your salvation, in quietness and trust is your strength, but you would have none of it. (Isaiah 30:15 NIV)

Find rest, O my soul, in God alone; my hope comes from him.
—Psalm 62:5

That's exactly what Jesus did. He didn't make it easy for himself by avoiding people's troubles, but waded right in and helped out. "I took on the troubles of the troubled," is the way Scripture puts it. Even if it was written in Scripture long ago, you can be sure it's written for us. God wants the combination of his steady, constant calling and warm, personal counsel in Scripture to come to characterize us, keeping us alert for whatever he will do next. May our dependably steady and warmly personal God develop maturity in you so that you get along with each other as well as Jesus gets along with us all. Then we'll be a choir—not our voices only, but our very lives singing in harmony in a stunning anthem to the God and Father of our Master Jesus! (Romans 15:3-6 MSG)

{KEEPING ALERT FOR WHATEVER HE WILL DO NEXT!}

Sweetly broken--wholly surrendered {thank you Rachel Hunka for sharing that with me!}
Amy

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Don't LOOK BACK!

Front Page of the KC Star this morning-the story of my pastor and his resignation. Although I already knew-I guess reality had hit and I'm just not ready to let go. Through my tears I began to get ready for church, wondering in my heart and mind what our 1st Sunday would look like without him being up front. How would this affect our church body? What's next? How do we move forward in all of this? Questions bombarded my thoughts. As I was driving to church I heard God speak very loudly and clearly-DON'T LOOK BACK!

You see when I start reflecting on how God has used this man, Joey Butler, my pastor to spur me on to all God has for my life I break. I have had many wonderful leaders in my life. Many men and women of God who have had an integral part of my journey with Christ and have helped me take significant steps in my walk...coming to Gateway Church 5 years ago was life changing for me. I was taught how to find my identity in Scripture, I was empowered to discover and do what God has made me to be, I was given incredible opportunity and I have grown greatly under Joey's leadership. I've never had a pastor so unique as Joey-I appreciate so much his out of the box thinking, teaching and living. In light of the changes taking place-I get very overwhelmed and selfishly sad as I look back...I grieve, I cry...I'm not ready to let go. And I hear God say again-DON'T LOOK BACK!

When I look forward and see the beauty of the news-I rejoice for my pastor and his family-God is giving them time to have together...looking even further ahead and trying to view things in light of eternity I rejoice that Joey will be one day {as we all will be} in the very presence of Christ. I'm reminded that it doesn't get any better than that and that is truly what our lives here on earth are about...right? When I step outside of my human thinking into His eternal thinking I truly rejoice...and I have to admit I'm a bit jealous.

The message at church today was timely-moving as the Spirit leads-not stopping when we are stirred. Part of the message led to Philippians 3 and there it was again-DON'T LOOK BACK!


I don’t mean to say that I have already achieved these things or that I have already reached perfection. But I press on to possess that perfection for which Christ Jesus first possessed me. No, dear brothers and sisters, I have not achieved it, but I focus on this one thing: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead, I press on to reach the end of the race and receive the heavenly prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us. (Philippians 3:12-14 NLT)


I'm not saying that I have this all together, that I have it made. But I am well on my way, reaching out for Christ, who has so wondrously reached out for me. Friends, don't get me wrong: By no means do I count myself an expert in all of this, but I've got my eye on the goal, where God is beckoning us onward—to Jesus. I'm off and running, and I'm not turning back. So let's keep focused on that goal, those of us who want everything God has for us. If any of you have something else in mind, something less than total commitment, God will clear your blurred vision—you'll see it yet! Now that we're on the right track, let's stay on it. (Philippians 3:12-16 MSG)

God has done great things through my pastor and I have no doubt that He will continue to do so and if anything, Joey has inspired and motivated me to keep pressing on, never settle for less than total commitment to Christ...no matter what obstacles come.

Life is short and I for too long have been looking back...when the BEST {eternity with Christ} is yet to come. Someone said once that in light of eternity our life on earth is merely 7 seconds long. SEVEN SECONDS. Today God has challenged me to take ALL the lessons I have been taught by so many great leaders-especially Joey Butler-and make sure that I'm not just looking back "reminiscing" about them but truly to LIVE THEM OUT LOUD!

So for me "I'm off and running-and I'm not looking back!" {and I'm so incredibly grateful for my pastor who has literally shown me through his life what that looks like!}




Thursday, January 31, 2013

Lessons learned - in Jamaica

If there is one lesson I learned on my recent trip to Harmons, Jamaica it was this: STAND on the promises of God. It was a lesson that came at the end of the week for me.

We had an incredible week serving with WonbyOne and spending time with our Jamaican friends. It was a trip that I saw friendships deepen, lives challenged and blessings abound. And as I learned once again {in a missions perspectives class last night} going and serving in mission work is not for us but for God to receive greater glory...He doesn't need us, yet He allows us to have a part in what He is doing in the world, A job that He could do without our help but yet He let's us have a part because He desires glory and He desires fellowship with us. There was definitely fellowship with Him and I pray He received all the glory.

Even in the midst of an incredible week, one that I continued to hear Gods voice, sometimes right in the minute I needed a word, I still struggled. I once vowed that I'd never be the older single girl that always was talking abut my singleness...but that was the battle this week, the struggle, the tug of war if you will between my head and my heart, the spirit and the flesh were at war..all week...and it never let up. I didn't go on this trip prepared for this...I've been doing really good about this subject but I guess when you're asked {no joke} up to 10x per day..."you have kids? {no} why not? {no husband} you're not married? {no} why? {haven't met the right one yet...I'm waiting on God} and the best was {no joke} you're the oldest white girl I've met who isn't married {really?} mentally exhausted all I could do was be transparent and the encouragement I received from my team was priceless. A word fitly spoken in due season. God used my team greatly and I saw great victory.

Friday, our last day in Harmons, I was sitting outside having some quiet time and my friend Sarah came over and put a piece of paper in front of me. It was torn from a devotional book and it was about Matthew 7:7-11, ask/seek/knock. It was talking about how God has far greater purpose in our prayers than just asking and receiving. He wants Us to learn more about Who He is. He wants us to draw others into our petitions so that when the answer finally comes its turned into a testimony of the glory and goodness of God. "Don't just ask, seek and knock; keep asking, seeking and knocking. Such times of persistence lead to a greater more memorable experiences of His goodness."

I was greatly encouraged by this note and my heart was lifted from the battle I'd been in all week...and that wasn't all. The ending verses were Matthew 7:7-11 and what hit me the hardest was the verse 11, you see that was a PROMISE God had given to me when I was a senior in high school. 17 years ago. A promise that one day God would give me a husband and fulfill the desire to be married. A promise I'd lost sight of.

So if you sinful people know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give good gifts to those who ask him. (Matthew 7:11 NLT)

What happened next was really cool. We'd been receiving encouragement cards all week from friends and family back home. I opened next one of the cards from a dear friend. Her words were so comforting. The end of her card included words from an old hymn "standing on the promises of Christ my King". And then she said something I will never forget..."my prayer is that you'd stand the promises of God this week."

I can't explain the embrace I felt in that moment from God. Did she know that the very thing I'd struggle with all week would be something that 17 years ago God had already given me a promise too? No! But God did! Did she know that a friend on the trip would tear out a page of a devotional to encourage me with? No! But God did! I can't explain it...all I know is I learned a very valuable lesson. STAND. EVEN WHEN YOU DON'T HOLD THE ANSWER. you never quit believing the promises of God. The word in that verse that holds my promise is "WILL"...it's His word. He is Faithful to His word. Just because its been 17 years with several heart breaks and no end in sight doesn't mean I give up. Another passage of scripture I continually hold to is

All these people died still believing what God had promised them. They did not receive what was promised, but they saw it all from a distance and welcomed it. They agreed that they were foreigners and nomads here on earth. Obviously people who say such things are looking forward to a country they can call their own. If they had longed for the country they came from, they could have gone back. But they were looking for a better place, a heavenly homeland. That is why God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared a city for them. (Hebrews 11:13-16 NLT)

The part that has always stuck out to me is that THEY DIED IN THEIR FAITH, THEY NEVER physically held the promise BUT that didn't mean they quit believing. I believe they could do this only because they saw with eyes of faith, what was waiting for them at the end, the prize...JESUS. They knew life on earth wasn't ALL there is!

I was reminded again this week that Jesus MUST BE ENOUGH. I know the "dying in faith not receiving" is hard to wrap our human brains around, but I ask myself...is it really going to matter in the end if I was married or not? No. What will matter is will I believe the One WHO IS ABLE with all my heart, EVEN IF I never receive? I by no means have this faith thing mastered. I'm human, even now as I type this sitting in a home by myself lonely night after night after night wishing there would be someone here at home just to share my day with or just someone to share a meal with, I'm reminded of my frailty and how desperately I need my faith to be increased. And in His still sweet way , He speaks through a song playing the back ground..."You're always enough for me." That truth sinks deep, and I believe with all my heart that once more, He truly is enough. He's enough for a heart that is lonely, a heart that wants to give up at times on a promise it was given 17 years ago, a heart that is scared and let's fear have more control more than I'd admit...He's enough. I always go back to a prayer I prayed on my knees in 1999 at a church service that said "Lord, if its just me and You the rest of my life, I'm ok with that." And deep down in my heart, I am ok, all is well when I choose to look at my life with eyes of eternity. It's when I look at life through temporal eyes that fear takes control.

So today I CHOOSE to stand on the promises God has made, I CHOOSE to learn more of Who He is in the waiting, I CHOOSE to let others see the rawness and realness of my heart and to let God use my story to draw others in to know Him, I CHOOSE to continue to ASK, SEEK AND KNOCK. I choose to believe and know that He is ENOUGH.

Standing.

Monday, December 3, 2012

and...CHECK!

what a GREAT week and weekend. I was determined this week to live life to the full....and I did! {and looking back I see I got a lot crossed off the 'ol bucket list!}

John 10:10 says...I came so they can have real and eternal life, more and better life than they ever dreamed of. {MSG}

I'm learning {slowly and painfully at times} that His life for me is WAY BETTER than any life I could dream up.

From "hot-cocoa shindigs" and reading bed-time stories to little people to dinner with girlfriends, coffee with a sweet friend, home-made soup and a hot chocolate movie night with precious friends, a fun Saturday morning date baking cookies and dancing with my favorite little Peruvian...and wrapping the weekend up with an incredible Christmas {The Story} Concert and a church Christmas night of worship...whew! It was a great week and weekend and I realize how much I am blessed. Blessed to have friends that encourage me and do this thing called life together. Blessed to have amazing parents that are constantly calling me just to "check in" and show they care...blessed to have been blessed with so much. Counting my blessings this morning definitely brings a smile to my face as to how much God loves me...how much He loves all of us. His love is unfathomable.

I was brought to tears and completely inspired by the Story concert. Basically it's the Bible set to music. Stories that I have heard and read my whole life brought TO LIFE. In the words of another friend who attended..."who knew I could relate so well to the life of Moses?" It was incredible.

I wrote down some of my favorite lines from the evening...

"When others told Joshua NO WAY...Joshua shouted YAHWEH!"

"Don't lose sight of Who HE IS...It must be YOU...Moses"

"You gotta ask if you want an answer...Esther"

"Who am I to make demands of the God of Abraham?....Job"

so many stories to relate to...and I came away from the night realizing I had lost sight of WHO HE IS. I have been consumed with my life and have missed seeing His hand prints at every step. I walked away wanting to KNOW Him more...I walked away desiring to pull my Bible out and read up on these stories that maybe have become too familiar and asking God to give me a fresh look at each one. I walked away desiring Him more.

I really needed this week...and I thank God for it. It makes me even more determined to live out this next week with the same urgency and watch what God will do!