Thursday, January 27, 2011

What an Experience!

Ok, I've stared at this blank screen for minutes now, trying to find words to express what is within me, grasping at some way to eloquently explain the details of Monday night through Wednesday morning. Forget eloquent, I'm just hoping for adequate at this point. Here goes...

Monday evening I began to send support letters to friends and family for my upcoming trip to Haiti. The key word in that sentence is began. You see, I never got a chance to finish. Within 48 hours of sending the first letter, God had provided in a big way! I woke up Wednesday morning to find my personal need of $900 met. Done. Finished. I hadn't even sent all my letters! I was fully prepared to embark on at least a month-long endeavor of support-raising. I've seen it firsthand. I lived with a dear friend who does full time missions. She and several friends have shared with me the joys and trials of support-raising. To be honest, I've more often heard of the trials. So I bolstered myself with a prayer of faith (probably the size of a mustard seed...) and approached the dreaded task. I'm not one to love math, but even I couldn't help but try to work out equations of "this many people would need to give this much to meet my need..." Each time popping the math bubble in my mind with an abrupt reminder of God's faithfulness.

And faithful He was. Our Jehovah Jireh not only confirmed my call to go on this trip, but He also caused my faith to deepen significantly. I spent most of Wednesday in disbelief, longing only to fall flat on my face and praise my Creator. I blared praise music louder than ever before...if that was even possible. I teared up time and time again. I almost did a cartwheel down the hallway at work...almost. It was truly a feeling I've never felt before. I felt like God had picked me up, twirled me around, and set me back down to continue on with my day. The God of the Universe had given me this incredible blessing! I am, of course, beyond grateful for my family and friends. Their love and support will walk each step with me in Haiti. 

While my personal goal has been met, I do however encourage anyone to continue with what you feel God is leading you to give. There are vaccines and supplies I need that are not covered in that $900. Also, anything above and beyond my personal need will go to help the other team members - and if there is any left after that, we will buy supplies to donate. I know that there are a few people on the team specifically who do not have support of their families in this trip, so they may benefit greatly from  the overflow! Donate to the Haiti trip by clicking here.

I'll close with some Scripture that speaks to where my heart is firmly planted:

Psalm 52:8-9
...I trust in God's unfailing love for ever and ever. I will praise You forever for what You have done; in Your name I will hope, for Your name is good. I will praise You in the presence of Your saints.

Psalm 95:1-7
Come, let us sing for joy to the Lord; let us shout aloud to the Rock of our salvation. Let us come before Him with thanksgiving and extol Him with music and song. For the Lord is the great God, the great King above all gods. In his hand are the depths of the earth, and the mountain peaks belong to Him. The sea is His, for He made it, and His hands formed the dry land. Come, let us bow down in worship, let us kneel before the Lord our Maker; for He is our God and we are the people of his pasture, the flock under his care.

Praise Him!

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Those That Wish to Remain Unnamed

Fear. It's a four letter word that likes to hold significant power, yet it doesn't get this power on its own. We have to give it. It's amazing how much it can affect the outlook of my life, my week, my day. At the same time, those I interact with on a daily basis probably have no idea of the fears that nag inside. We all have them. So how do we get rid of them? How do we remove them from our lives, reclaiming all that God intends to be ours? We name them. That's right. Giving them a name, calling them out, shining light on them (ugh, I don't like the sound of this either), that is what causes them to shrink and disappear. So, without tons of explanation, I'm naming some of mine. For all to see. I've had friends who've done this via blog. I sense it's freeing. And scary, but mostly freeing. So here goes...

I fear failure...I began to conquer this after arriving in New Zealand - I apparently need to reconquer.
I fear missing the point of why God has me this world, in Georgia, in this season of life.
I fear not being able to follow through on the point of why I'm here...lacking gumption.
I fear all things financial...enough said.
I fear I will have to "go it alone." (Wording from U2's "Sometimes You Can't Make It On Your Own.)
I fear getting's a fact of life, but I'd sure as heck love to avoid it.
I fear hurting others.

I sense God desiring me to purge these fears. As I said in my last post, He's working on some things in me. I think He has some things to show me that require a progression, a deep-set call to continual attention, not just a sudden change. I feel like my verse of the year is 2 Corinthians 12:9: 

"But he said to me, 'My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.' Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me." 

As God began working these things at the start of the year, something became clear early on that I am seeing come to fruition. And it took some fear conquering to get me on board. Ever since my experience in the Philippines, I've been longing to go back. And I believe I will someday. But first, He's asked me to go somewhere else...

HAITI. I've been accepted to travel with a team from 12Stone Church on April 2-10!!!! I felt the pull to apply one night while I was listening to Louie Giglio talk at Passion2011. There was a heaviness in my heart for this country and an excitement that I could be a part of the hope in the rebuilding. I had heard of the opportunity a few weeks earlier but to be honest, I felt nothing. I talked myself out of it before I even gave it a shot. Fast-forward a few weeks to the first weekend of the year. Getting the last-minute opportunity to volunteer at the conference, I knew there was a reason for me being there. Worshipping with thousands of others seeking God. Meeting a dad and his daughter from Haiti who have suffered greatly from the earthquake. Talking with a doctor who pinpointed the reason for my medical burnout. He encouraged me to pursue nursing outside the US, in a place where getting medical care is a luxury, where red-tape, protocol, and all sorts of other passion-killing things aren't even on the radar. All people want is proper medical attention. I had lost sight of the need for medical care. It's common and expected here. And so much of it on the healthcare provider side is so far from the personal interaction. It's paper and charts and computers and red tape and people making decisions from behind a desk that have never walked a day in the life of a nurse. And so I'm going to Haiti. A medical team of me and 9 others will be serving in any capacity we can. And I'm pumped! Beyond excited. I'm begging God to wreck me. Yes, you read that right. To take these now named fears and give them no ground to stand on. To blow them so far from my life they'll quiver at the thought of returning. It will take vulnerability. And transparency. And emotion. Just a few things I like to shy away from. One could even call those weaknesses in my life. But that's just the spot for God to enter in and reveal His power! 

Saturday, January 8, 2011

The Pull and Tear.

There is a certain pull on my soul as one leading a life following Christ. The world and all its expectations try to tell me one thing. Beliefs and faith tell me another. It's easy to feel the pull to become one among the crowd, to be "normal" along with everyone else. We have TV ads, magazine articles, educations even telling us who and what to be. Pursue this career, move to this area, read this book, watch this movie. The world even goes so far as to tell us when we should be married and starting a family. But then there's Jesus. He also tells us what to be. He doesn't say anything about being one among the crowd or being normal. His life, in fact, was quite radical. He shattered expectations on so many levels. And I believe we are called to do the same.

But there's still that annoying pull. That innate desire to go with the flow of life, of the world's expectations. Sure I desire to be settling down, getting married, starting a family. It feels OK to follow this for awhile, but at the core I know something is wrong. My focus begins to shift off the One who leads me and starts to settle instead on instability. I wander off the solid ground of Truth, and my footing becomes shaky. But all the while I'm praying for God's will to be done in my life. Praying that He would become greater and I would become less (John 3:30). Praying for Him to have His way with me. Society and cultural norms call loud and clear (even when we don't want them to). Yet God's still small voice is ever-present under the din of worldly temptations, if I would only listen. I sense the pull getting stronger toward the true, narrow path. God's Spirit is moving in me, pulling me back to Him. And then it happens. The pull gives way to a tear.

I've lived in that pull the past few months. Desiring some sort of safe, comfortable, normal life. One where I might meet someone and "settle down" - whatever the heck that means. Basically desiring a life that I can fit into a box. Here's where the problem starts: God doesn't work in boxes. He is so outside of the box its ridiculous! But in my prayer for Him to have His way with me, what did I expect? Did I expect comfortable or radical? Safe of crazy? To be honest, it was the comfortable and safe. I tried to see how God would work all the while limiting Him to the safe box. Longing for a way out of what seems to be this holding pattern stage of life, I looked to how He might be shaping the future. But then there's Crazy Love. His crazy love! What does He want for my life? Marriage and family? I don't know. I just know I've felt the pull to get a routine, a sense of a comfortable life. And God can be in that. But I'm sensing that's not for me right now. He's asking for more. Something more radical. And so I tore.

It happened this past weekend as I volunteered at the Passion 2011 conference here in Atlanta. There's just something incredibly moving about worshiping with 22,000+ university students, serving for an amazing ministry. It will take awhile to unpack the great messages I heard, the enlightening conversations I had, the passion that was rekindled. I was reminded that this life is all about Him. It's really not about what I want. It's about me bringing Him glory. That's it. That's why I'm here. So what happens in the wake of the tear? Well, I don't know exactly. I can say so far that God is entering in and beginning to change my outlook and my mentality on a few things. It's strange, there's seemingly less certainty in this spot, but oh the peace! The joy of knowing He's at the center of it all. The exact "tear moment" that happened this past weekend is something I'll elaborate more on in the very near future. All I'll say for now is it involves a more radical outlook on my current purpose, more fully embracing this Crazy Love and beginning to pursue expectations outside the box. And it might just involve me taking a short trip outside the country...