Missing the Mission (and also, Heaven.)

So, last year, I lived at this place called the Mission for several weeks. When I first got there, it was dark outside–and in the stairwells (some of the lights weren’t working). I walked through this long, bare, wide hallway. And then I went through this odd, unfinished area. (with strangers, mind you.) It was slightly creepy. One of the girls told me I’d love the Mission, which I had planned to all along–but that first impression left me doubting whether or not I really would.

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Finally, I we got to the room I’d be staying in. And… the bathroom door in my room (which was shared with two girls who didn’t really talk much and didn’t seem too thrilled at my presence) didn’t close. Not didn’t lock–didn’t close. The knob even fell off to emphasize this point.

However, the next morning, I woke up to a brilliant pink light on the wall–out the window I looked, and saw one of the most beautiful sunrises I’ve ever seen.

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Also, two Willow trees.

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Later, we got the Tour.

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And there was a chapel.

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And all kinds of other cool and unique things.

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And…Turns out she was right. I did love the Mission, after all.

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In fact, I loved it so much that I’ve lost track of how many dreams I’ve had about it since. Also, I used this picture of me at the Mission as my profile picture on the about page on this blog. 😛

And sometimes, I really, really miss it. Today, it’s especially on my mind–because I would be there today. That is, I’d be there if I had more than $4.58. And if I had God’s blessing. But… it was not meant to be, not this time.

And in a really weird sort of way, I’m almost glad. Because I know that it’s not really the Mission that I miss, exactly. Even if I went to the Mission, I’d still feel like I missed something else. Even if I was near every person I miss, and even if I got to be in all the places I miss at once (supposing that were physically possible, ahem.) I’d still be missing something.  Because deep inside, what I really miss is Home. Heaven.

What I really miss is the time when everything was perfect, when people didn’t leave, hurt each other, go to prison, live across the ocean, or die. When no one was hurting and everyone was happy.

I really miss that.

The weird thing is that I’ve never experienced it.

And I’m not the only one who pines for the “good old days”. Some think that they were only a few years ago, or a few hundred years ago–but, really, when it all comes down to it, we know those days weren’t good either. They were as bad as these. People were still sinners. We still weren’t Home.

This longing, missing, looking for something we’ve never even experienced is a common human trait. Some people bury it, or try to ignore it. But it’s there.

The Germans call it “Sehnsucht”. We don’t know what to call it, so we just say, “I’m okay.” (This is one of those areas where the English language is greatly lacking. Anyone care to make up a word for this thing?)

Recently, I had a particularly strong bout of this feeling–and it was quite troubling. That is, until I realized what a blessing it really is… Sehnsucht causes me to remember things like this:

For here we have no continuing city, but we seek the one to come. Hebrews 13:14

These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off were assured of them, embraced them and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth. For those who say such things declare plainly that they seek a homeland. Hebrews 11:13-14

If then you were raised with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ is, sitting at the right hand of God. Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth. For you died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. Colossians 3:1-3

Servanthood

So, we had this Leader’s Training with a group of girls from Bright Lights. And one whole session was about being a servant. And I was convicted by this session–you know, back when Hannah and I did the training almost six years ago. I told the girls how God has made a lot of progress with me in the servant-hood department since the last time I heard it.

And then, I was convicted again. There is, apparently, still quite a lot to be desired. (Though this really isn’t surprising at all.)

A few days ago, I was thinking about Things In General Especially My Life. Here’s the condensed, bloggy version:

My life hasn’t exactly gone how I thought it should. By this time I was supposed to be at least courting/dating/whateveryouwanttocallit, maybe even married. I was supposed to be in some sort of important type ministry, maybe overseas. I was supposed to know what I was going to Do With My Life.

And I’m not. Not courting, not married, not in an “important” ministry (by the world’s standards. Or even by the Good Christian Girl standards. I mean I haven’t even been out of the US yet on a short term mission trip!!), and I don’t know what I’m going to Do With My Life.

How depressing.

Or is it?

I kept thinking/praying, trying to sort out what I am doing, what my role is at home, at work, at church, in life. And I finally figured it out. Only took twenty three years…

I’m a servant.

No, a bondservant. For life. Out of choice. Because of Love.

First to Jesus, then to my family, then to the Bright Lights girls, then to my church family, then to… everyone else.

It isn’t even MY life to decide what to do with!

And the past few days, I’ve been consciously, purposefully embracing that role.  Now I keep having this odd thought going through my mind: “Being a servant is the most freeing thing you can do.”

Sounds so contradictory, so insane. Serving others makes you free?? Say what?

Oh, but it does, when your Master is Christ. His burden is indeed light. See, we will have a master. Either we are controlled by our own sinful passions and lusts, or we are controlled by Christ.

Here is the testimony of one who lived a life controlled by his passions, when he was caught and sentenced to prison: “I forgot that what a man does in secret will someday be shouted from the housetop–passion is a cruel master.”

What, then, of Christ? What sort of Master is He? He is a Good Father, the sort that will spank and hug, remove splinters and listen patiently, assign chores and times of rest. What does He desire and work in us? Our holiness. And guess what that leads to? Our good. And guess what that leads to? Joy and happiness of the purest kind.

When you cheerfully accept your role as a servant (And what other role can we take, especially since HE took it upon Himself?), everything changes. When you don’t have your own agenda to look out for, suddenly you don’t mind so much when you’re asked to do a project that will take up many hours of your day and involve a lot of dust and strenuous labor. Suddenly it’s expected, even welcomed. Suddenly it’s not such a big deal when people don’t notice all the things you do. It doesn’t hurt quite so much when you’re corrected. It’s not a problem if you’re behind the scenes where no one knows but you and your Master. Playing with and talking to your little brothers doesn’t seem like a distraction from the Import Ministry (not even kidding, both of my smallish little brothers [I also have a big little brother.] have come over with various things, one a broken car and one an AOE question, while I was writing this sentence.)–it becomes an act of service, a part of your assignment.

Because He sees, and He is pleased, and what more could you ask for?

And if what He wants is for me to stay right here, in this little house with these wonderful people that make up my family, serving in the “little” ministries He has given me for the rest of my daysthen so be it.

I’m not in charge. He is. And He is an AWFUL LOT SMARTER THAN ME. (like, way more than just caps, but I think you get the picture.)

I’m a bondservant and my Master is Good.

And getting that straight has been the sweetest, most freeing realization I’ve had in a long, long time. Maybe my whole life.

Here’s to many more years of joyful servanthood.

Eternal Rest

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Follow right manfully in your Master’s steps, for He has traversed this rough way before you. Better a brief warfare and eternal rest, than false peace and everlasting torment.

Happy Things

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For some reason I keep taking pictures of the moon lately. It just makes me happy I guess…

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Sunflower number one!

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I got to see some of my friends from J127 (and meet a new friend) at the FPEA homeschool convention! (And also got to help pack up. :D)

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Hehe… my papa posing with an Apple sticker in the middle of cleaning out the Cave.

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Tomatoes!!

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Isn’t it pretty??

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All from the garden!

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Tortoise out back of the store… he was eating grass viciously. I did not think such a thing was possible until I watched him. What should we call him?

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Very well attended vision breakfast for Pregnancy Solutions… they have now raised all the money they needed to have a center in North Port!!! This is a really big, really exciting God thing.

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We finally had a Leader’s Training with five girls from Bright Lights!!

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Part of the yummy lunch we had… Raspberry lemon trifle for dessert!

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Sunflower number two!

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Esther and Sword.

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Matthew and rain and sword.

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Thai Basil Coconut Curry that I made! I just looked at a bunch of recipes and made up my own version. And it actually tasted good. It was awesome. Oh! Also the Thai Basil and onion were from our garden. 😀

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Esther blowing out candles on her strawberry-lemonade cupcakes. 😀

There ya go, some happy things in my life lately. 🙂

Guess Who’s Two…

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…our little Esther-girl. What a blessing and a delight she has been! It’s so hard to believe that just over two years ago we did not know this amazing little person. We are so thankful God gave her to us…

She is such a funny little lady. She loves to play “tag” (aka run-around-the-church) with her little friends, splash in puddles, watch storms coming in, eat chocolate, read books, lay on the sidewalk and look at stars, look at pictures, play with dolls, climb up and down bunk bed ladders (which is slightly terrifying to watch.), draw “happys” (smiley faces), play with toy (and real) animals. She’s quite brave, full of spunk, and sweet, too.

Happy birthday, Esther!!

Lightening Flashes

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Image Credit: Fir0002/Flagstaffotos

“You look back at a certain moment which changed everything. But “moment” is too long a word; was it a period of time at all? There came a thunder clap. But no, thunder may rumble for two or three seconds. This was a lightening flash cleaving straight across the road on which you walked. You shut your eyes instinctively; when you opened them the road looked different. And it was different. Nothing will ever be again as it was before that lightening flash. This, and this, and this you will never do again. And the road will grow duller and darker with every mile you go–is that your thought?

A voice speaks within you:

‘Things will never be as they were before? This is true; for they will be better.

‘You will never do this and this again? That is true; for I have other things for you to do.

‘They are not what you would choose? But they are indeed the best that Love can choose for you to do. . . .’

‘You have nothing to do, now, but to please Me.’

~Amy Carmichael’s Gold by Moonlight

Fairy Tales (And How it Really is.)

So… in fairy-tale land, this is how it supposedly goes.

1. Person (no, wait, fairy) has some sort of trial or hard time or whatever.

2. Fairy struggles with dark thoughts and heartache.

3. Fairy finds Jesus (or already knows Jesus.)

4. Everything is great–no more problems.

5. The End.

Okay, so actually there are no fairy tales like that. (That I know of.) But it seems to be the way people imagine it should/does go.

But it doesn’t. 

(Unless I’m a freak of nature, in which case you can just ignore this post. But somehow I doubt I’m the only one.)

It’s more like this:

1. Person has some sort of trial or hard time or whatever.

2. Person struggles with dark thoughts and heartache.

3. Person finds Jesus (or already knows Jesus and remembers this.)

4. Person still cries a lot. The main difference is that they pray a lot now too, but many of their prayers are basically, “Sob, help I don’t understand, I’m glad you do, sob.” (seriously, I am not a dramatic or emotional or sappy or cry-y person, but I’ve been there.)

5. Person is surprised when the sun comes out and they can see how God is working

6. And then Person watches in dismay as the clouds come back and just being alive is hard.

7. Person looks up again and “sees” God there, suffering too.

8. Person is really grateful but it’s still hard.

9. Person learns to trust God more, and timidly starts believing that they are LOVED.

10. Person realizes that maybe this is what is meant by healing.

11. Person still hurts so much they want to scream sometimes.

12. Person holds on, barely (or rather God holds them.).

13. Person realizes that healing doesn’t mean not caring and it doesn’t mean not hurting, and they become okay with that.

14. It’s years later and they still have really awful days.

15. But they know it will all make sense in God’s time, and so they keep moving forward in God’s strength.

16. And it doesn’t End, not here. It still hurts. It still goes round and round in cycles that seem endless.

17. When Person goes Home, finally, it will end–and they’ll see the glory of it all.

18. But until then, Person will learn to love and trust and hope in God’s strength, knowing that His timing is the best of all.

People say you’ll heal, that time will help, just pray about it.

And it’s almost a year and a half in and it still hurts so much I can hardly bear it. In fact, I can’t. And that’s why I continually go to my Papa God, begging Him for help and casting my burden on Him. Because how else can I live?

And others let me glimpse their pain and I feel the vastness of it, underneath their heart-surface. And it overwhelms me, because how do I tell them that even though there’s hope, even when you have Jesus, it is still so hard? How do I tell them, when I see that they are writhing with pain underneath, that it will all be worth it in the end and they’ll see, God will use it, that He already is?

Sometimes my answers sound so “pat”, so unhelpful, so Christianese–even though I care so much it physically hurts. So I do the only thing I know will help, and I bring them to God in prayer with a heart that breaks with it all.

Oh, Lord Jesus, come quickly.

Dreams and Dying and Real Life

Last night I dreamt that I was going to be hung. It sounds rather horrific, but fortunately I managed to realize (in my dream) that it was a dream, so it didn’t actually happen. I also reasoned that people don’t really kill others by hanging much anymore. (I am still logical even in dreams. Fancy that.)

So then, in my dream, I started wondering–if I really were about to be hung, what would I want to say first? And also, what does one think about while one is being hung? (Sorry. My brain just really does work like this.) I also wondered how I’d feel about what I’ve done so far in my life.

It was really quite fascinating, (especially since I knew it really wasn’t going to happen) though I don’t remember any brilliant revelations or speeches anything like that.

But… what would I say if I were going to die soon?

I’m not quite sure. God knows best, so I’d definitely be asking Him what to say. Overall, though… I think it would be something along the lines of, God is awesome even in this, I can’t wait to see Him, I hope you know Him, if you don’t, please seek Him. (I imagine I’d speak in run-on sentences if I only had a few minutes left to speak.)

What would I think about while I was getting hung? (Sorry if this is making your neck hurt.)

In my dream, I remember having a sort of “duh” moment: Jesus. What else would I think about? I think that’s a good answer. I’d also probably think about seeing God and heaven and others who had gone ahead. I might think back on my life. I might think about people I loved who were still on earth. That would be sad, but there’d be hope of them coming along soon. I’d probably think about random fascinating things like I usually do. Or maybe… maybe it would be so painful that all I could think about was Jesus. Maybe I’d just be glad that I could suffer for Him, and thankful that He did this, for me, only so much worse.

What would I think about what I’ve done so far?

I dunno. There’s a lot to be glad of… but there would be so much more to be desired. I think I’d be sad over all the wasted time. I think I’d wish that I had spent more of my life joyfully serving and loving God and others. I think I’d wish I could’ve brought more glory to God. I’d be grateful for grace…

Sometimes I think it would be easier to die early. Then people could read all my journals and blog posts and stuff, and they could see all these lofty notions of following hard after God (and also how scribbly my handwriting can be and how I’m not really that good at spelling and how repetitive and lame sounding I can be.), and they’d think I was an amazingly godly person. Though, actually, I’m not, not really… not like I want to be, not like I talk or write.

But I’m still alive, and that means that I actually have to do the stuff. (Plus, who cares what people think when you’re actually dying/dead??)

I can’t just write, can’t just rant, can’t just blog, can’t just teach, can’t just talk, can’t just write encouragy letters/emails/FB G+ posts… I have to get down on my knees and let God change my heart and life. And I have been. And it is hard and it hurts and I still try too much.

But Jesus Christ Himself is living in me and I am in Him, and He is teaching me, leading me, changing me–and surely He can make even me into the vessel He wants.

What would you say, think, reflect on if you were going to be/getting hung?

Look Up!

“Look up! Find the walrus!”

Briefly, she looks up.

I pour the water, trying to rinse away soap.

She jerks her head down–too soon.

The wailing begins.

I wipe her eyes patiently and explain, again, that if she’ll just keep looking up, the water won’t go in her eyes.

We try again. Same thing. I tell her to look up. She looks down. The water goes in her eyes.

This scene, or one very like it, has been repeated countless times in the bathtub in our home (and I have a sneaking suspicion that it may happen in other homes too.). For some reason, little people find it very difficult to understand that when they look down, the water goes in their eyes and hurts them. This seems very odd to me, since it happens every single time. And yet, they continue. For a while. Until finally, finally they learn.

I was thinking about this recently, after yet another bath time that included this little scene… and I realized that I am like that.

God says, “Look up! Look at Me!”

Briefly, I obey.

And then I jerk my head back down and–whoosh go the troubles, into my eyes, blinding me to His goodness and causing me unnecessary pain.

And He patiently reminds me, once again, to look up.

It’s so simple, really, and so common sense. Yet, in my foolish rebellion, I continue to look back down. And He continues to remind me.  I’m very grateful.

And someday… someday, maybe I’ll finally learn, too, like all the siblings preceding Esther did–just look up.

And keep looking up.