Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Inspiring words from our Chinese brother

Reading about the Chinese church and the Back to Jerusalem movement for a paper has turned out to be one of the most inspiring lessons in my Christian walk. We could learn so much from their perseverance, strength, and understanding of mission. What a blessing to get to research such an incredible movement. 

"Don't pray for the persecution to stop! We shouldn't pray for a lighter load to carry, but a stronger back to endure! Then the world will see that God is with us, empowering us to live in away that reflects his love and power.
This is true freedom!"

-quote from The Heavenly Man by Chinese Christian Brother Yun regarding Americans praying for the Chinese government to stop oppressing the church. 

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Take Heart!

Wow. Things are getting real. With 1.5 weeks left in Pasadena I am about to be in a whirlwind of life and activities. I am so excited to go home to Georgia for a few days but packing for home also means I am getting a lot closer to heading to the reservation for 2 months. I just talked with the girl on the AYM team there and she gave me some more details regarding my stay. I will be staying with a family on the rez that has a few kids and the girl on staff for AYM living there too. Sarah is giving me her bed, which is so nice, and I feel so blessed that this family is willing to take me in and make their household a little more crowded for a few months! It feels like such hospitality and I am so thankful for their kindness. I also learned that our trip to Missouri (a loooooong trip!) for the Warrior Summit Leadership Conference is going to involve one BIG bus with students from a few different reservations and an all night long bus ride. I am thrilled! How FUN will that be? Sarah said that I am basically going to be running (hopefully not literally) from the moment I step onto the reservation and I cannot wait. What a summer I am in store for! Desert here I come!

I feel like I have been waiting to go to the reservation since I first set foot at Fuller and I cannot believe it is coming to fruition. So much that I have learned in my classes has proved applicable for my journey with the Apache and I am hopeful to learn from the people I meet and put into practice some of the things I have learned and realized.

Life is full of ups and downs, and there has been pain and heartache in these weeks. I have been in daily prayer for our friend Kirsten who is dealing with a brain injury. I have cried for classmates who have lost their fathers, and sometimes it can all be overwhelming. But I always try to remember that God has already saved this world. He has overcome it and He will return one day to finally hold us in His arms. Until that day I feel blessed to be a part of His mission, and I feel so glad that He has given me opportunities to serve, no matter how inadequate I am.

"I have told you these things so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble, but take heart! I have overcome the world." John 16:33

Friday, May 25, 2012

Covered by my Father's Hands

‎"My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one can snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all; no one can snatch them out of my Father's hand." 
John 10:27-29

What peace this brings, to know that no matter what happens, we can never be snatched from our Father's hands. To have such a caring and loving Savior who knows us, who gives us life, and who protects us. I could not imagine anything better, and I will continually strive to please my Father who has done so much to save me. 

Praise Him, our Savior and Redeemer. Our Father. 

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Babys, Songs, and Story Time

Today I went to story time for babies at the library. Don't worry, I brought a baby so I would fit in. I made a scene bringing in my big stroller when the singing had already started and then accidentally parking it in the "fire lane." The storyteller begrudgingly got up to move it to the "stroller parking lot" which wasn't really a parking lot at all. I wanted to make a speech about being new at this or about just being a lowly nanny trying to make it through graduate school, but then again, I really just wanted someone to read me a story.

To be honest I think all the moms/dads/nannies were enjoying the books and songs more than the babies were. 

Sunday, May 20, 2012

In case you are just tuning in...

This is the story of a girl. A story of a girl who never seems to stay in one place. A story of a girl who has one foot in reality and one foot in a fairy tale. Who will change all the bedsheets with the sighting of one insect but will kiss the unwashed heads of street children. Some may say she is a living paradox, that she doesn't make sense, but she would say that she is simply a story unfolding. A story that she doesn't write the words to, but one in which she simply follows the turn of the page. 

This is the story of adventure. It is about getting lost and then found by a parade in the dark streets of Sevilla. It is about sleeping in the dirt for two weeks with a bucket of freezing water for a shower. It is about standing on the tip of India and watching the sunrise and getting patted down for drugs on the border to Portugal. 

And this is a story about Light. The Light that guided the steps. The Light that illuminated the dark places and promised the dawning of a new day. The Light that brought warmth and comfort at every moment. The Light that, above all, led the girl to where she is today. 

It is quite the story really. Would you like to come along? 

Friday, May 18, 2012

2 Joys, 1 Week

How does a week become even more perfect after the news of that beautiful baby boy from my last post? How about we add to that one of my other friends calling to say she just got engaged. A baby and an engagement, I must say this is one eventful week.

Congratulations Katelyn and Ben. God knew from the very beginning that He would bring you two together and look at all the crazy memories made along the way! The fun has just begun and I cannot wait to see how you two will serve Him together in your marriage. I am so blessed to be a spectator and friend in your story.

This life is a good one my friends, and I praise God for the beautiful blessings of new life He has given to each of us.
It might be a few days before I can figure out how to stop smiling. 

Thursday, May 17, 2012

A Tribute to Brooks Isaac (not The Hunger Games kind of tribute)

Yesterday, a baby was born. A beautiful baby boy. I know babies are born every day but this baby was special because we had all been waiting for him. And because yesterday, one of my dearest friends Koral became a mom. I have seen a lot of babies in my life but this is the first time one of my close friends has become a mother, and I have to tell you, when I laid eyes on that picture of his red little face I melted. Immediately, I loved him. Maybe it is because I really love his mommy or maybe it is knowing that I will probably try and convince her to tell him I am his aunt. Or maybe it is simply the joy of knowing that she created that sweet little thing. I don't know. But I do know that I am going to be just another person wrapped around his little baby fingers, no matter how many miles we are apart.

So sweet little Brooks Isaac, I know you can't hold your head up, let alone read my blog, but I want you to know that you have the best parents in the world. In years to come they will take you on so many adventures, and one day you should ask your mom to tell you the story of when she made me run in the same street with a bull. She is really fun like that, although she might not let you be so risky. But one thing I do know is that she and your dad will always love you. And I am sure you will be always be so styling and fun.

Baby Brooks I want you to know how excited the world is that you are here. 

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

The Enchanted Neighborhood

It is a common occurrence on Mondays and Wednesdays, the walk through the enchanted neighborhood. You may not believe me now, but maybe you will when I finish. In this neighborhood the sun always shines as I walk the baby and dog I take care of (if it rains, we just stay inside).  We peruse the streets, picking carefully which ones to turn down and which ones to save for another day. Some days the three of us decide to only walk the truly enchanted streets, and other days we take a chance and walk the dormant ones, the ones just waiting for their magic to burst through their doors and into their yards. You see, in a neighborhood without codes or regulations, the enchantment can run wild. There are yards filled with wildflowers who have no care in the world, replacing the boring old grass that could be there. There are houses that come straight from storybooks and I always peek extra long to see if Hansel and Gretel will come out and offer me some sweets. There are rows and rows of roses, all colors, and gardens that must have fairies living in them. There are mansions next to Spanish haciendas, followed by the house that is more wildlife than anything else. Each home is completely different and each yard reveals the characters that live inside them. The swings hanging from trees and the fruit hanging from branches both watch us as we pass by, and I can picture Alice and the Queen of Hearts running through the perfectly green grass with the rabbit not too far behind. 

As I walk with baby and dog I begin to think that maybe the movies and tv shows aren't filmed in L.A. because of Hollywood. I am beginning to think that maybe things are filmed here because there is magic in these neighborhoods. 

So today as the yellow finch fluttered into the twisted tree, and the mint condition model-T car rolled down the shaded street, I whispered to the baby and the dog that maybe, just maybe, enchantment doesn't only exist in the movies. 

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

We want YOU to be a missionary! (It's not what you think!)

I think I forgot about you guys this past week. I left you all hanging here, with no word as to my whereabouts or silly notions. How disrespectful of me. This past week has been filled with a final paper, time with friends, lots of silly notions, orchestra concerts for church, and the Avengers! (I may not have understood all the references but I did understand the value of good-looking men and hulk smashes). So alas, the blogity-blog fell behind. But here is a little post for you on the subject of. . .seminary. *Ahem, do not tune out. This will not be dull!...I hope.*

Usually there is a common reaction when I tell the layperson that I am in seminary. The conversation most often goes like this:
*insert perky, overly enthusiastic me* "Yea! So I moved out to Pasadena to go to seminary at Fuller."
 *insert skeptical/that's totally not relatable to my life look* "Oh, so, uh, you want to be a pastor?"

I cannot tell you how many times this has been said to me. I think I have taken it on as my personal mission to bring the cool back to seminary, because man, the looks I get make it seem like seminary is the biggest first impression party no no. Kind of like saying you hope to have 15 kids and put them all to work on your sustainable farm in Idaho on your first date. Note: I do not want 15 kids, but I do love sustainable farms and potatoes.

But at the same time, I think I came to seminary with a similar misconception. I came to seminary with the notion not of being a pastor but of being a missionary in a foreign land, bringing people out of poverty and helping them know Christ. That is what I thought missions was, just a single girl changing the world, one malaria pill at a time.

Let me drop something on you real fast. Get prepared: If you are a are a missionary. I know, right!? Go ahead and drop all your ideals of missions being only in a foreign land. Missions is the church, and the two cannot be separated. For the church was created by a missional God. The whole Old and New Testament can trace the mission of God, from the creation of Adam and Eve in the garden to the redemption of humankind at the cross. God's whole plan for the world is missional and God's plan includes His church. Therefore if we serve a missional God, then His mission must include the church, and the church must be part of His mission.

My point is, you don't have to go to seminary to be a missionary. You don't even have to leave your neighborhood. When you are fulfilling God's mission on the earth then you are being the church, and this means doing the work of God exactly where you are. Whether that be in a top-floor office, a school, or a foreign field. To be a missionary is not just to sell all your possessions and move to the bush of Africa (though this is a beautiful call) but to be a missionary is to be the light of Christ wherever you are, seminary education or not.

I'll conclude here in saying this. My Masters is a Masters in Intercultural Studies with an emphasis in International Development. Yes, there is some theology in there but it is mostly about how to help the poor and how to be a humanitarian as well as a Christian. My classes are on refugees and the impact of globalization on world poverty. And I am still utterly passionate about those things. But I don't know where God is going to take me in life. I don't know if I will be living on the other side of the world or just the other side of the country. But I can tell you this. If I call myself a Christian, then I will be working to fulfill God's mission wherever I go. I will be working to bring glory to His name and people into His arms. I will be taking care of the poor and the hungry. Because He has saved me from the depths, and I want to do nothing else but serve Him. Will you join me?

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

A Countdown

29 days until I get to be back in the loving arms of the SouthEast.
39 days until my solo road trip to Arizona.
41 days until I arrive at Fort Apache Indian Reservation for two months with Apache Youth Ministries.

Who would have known when I graduated a year ago that this would be life?
Certainly not me.
I think the unexpected is what makes it all so beautiful and exciting.

"The human mind plans the way, but the Lord directs the steps." Proverbs 16:9

Taken a year ago yesterday. Who knows what crazy thing we were doing but I like to think this epitomizes the unexpected nature, and excitement, of the journey. 

Sunday, May 6, 2012

A Trail of Discarded Daydreams

I love to plan. Some might call it obsessive but I just call it good sense. It is what I do when I get nervous, or when I am anticipating something. I plan when I am bored and I plan when I want to distract myself. I love to plan because to plan is to dream and to plan is to be sure of something..or at least give myself the allusion of certainty. 
But I am pretty sure that every time I take out that pen and paper God starts to smile as He shakes His head with a good natured shake. He knew I would turn out this way, and He knows almost all of those lists and plans will get tossed in the trash or lost. He knows that my plans have nothing to do with His plans, and I am sure He laughs softly because He knows His plans are so much better than mine. Like a father, He relishes in the excitement that will register on my face when HIS plans come into play. 
But in the meantime, as I scribble furiously on paper, as I daydream and plan, He lets me have my moment. He gives me that knowing look as I take a moment to chew on my pencil and look up at Him. But I just crinkle my eyebrows and shake my own head. Secretly I know the truth, though I don't want to admit it. I know that what He really wants is for me to stop writing and thinking and to start walking. I know that one day I will look up from my plans and realize that He has led me over this trail of scrunched up paper and long discarded daydreams and brought me to a destination I never saw coming. A destination that was better than anything I could have ever imagined. 

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Waiting and A Hypothetical Dog

Sometimes I feel like I am just waiting for my life to begin. In college everything is about the moment, the four years, the fun and the adventure, and then you leave. And life is supposed to begin, real life, grownup life. Things are supposed to move forward. Its in all the books. People leave college, they fall in love, they get real jobs, they buy a house with a yard and a dog named Fido, or something like that. College ends and real life is supposed to begin. But here I sit, one year later, writing a paper (or not) in my apartment, living on money borrowed from the government and my job as a nanny, and I feel like all I am doing is waiting. I know all those things are around the corner. I know that eventually I will fall in love and buy a house and start life, but until that happens I just have to wait, because I don't have any idea when those things will happen. And I can fill this time of waiting with different things, but the waiting still is.

So you can tell me that this is life. You can tell me that I am living life. That moving to Pasadena, pursuing a graduate degree, making new friends is life and I need to quit waiting and just start enjoying. But if I am honest, I probably won't believe you. I will probably tell you that I am going to start living in the moment and stop waiting for my real life to begin, but I will still sit, writing a paper, wondering when the next adventures are going to start. Waiting for God to open the doors and the feeling to rush over me, the feeling of knowing that this is it. 

But maybe, maybe when that comes, I will wish for the days when I had time to sit around dreaming about adventures and a dog named Fido. Maybe the grass is not always greener on the other side and maybe this is life. Maybe the waiting makes the finding more beautiful.

And maybe I need to quit complaining.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

"No, it isn't," agreed the Story Girl with a regretful sigh. "It's very expressive, but it isn't nice. That is the way with so many words. They're expressive, but they're not nice, and so a girl can't use them." page 113

Tuesday, May 1, 2012