One Year Ago…

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… I went to the Tampa airport and landed at the Buffalo Airport for Generations of Virtue’s new program, called J127. In between I wrote a lot of random things in my journal.

“Here I am–‘the date’ has arrived… I’m currently waiting to board (A novel experience [because normally we’re late and have to go right on the plane]) at my gate, C31. Mama and the five youngest left… they brought me here. It’s weird leaving them… or having them leave me, except I am leaving. Whatever. It’s confusing. πŸ˜› No complications yet, except my chopsticks ‘went off’. The lady felt my bun and said something about, ‘I knew this would happen today–someone with chopsticks!’ haha.

. . .I just saw someone that looked like they were from India… I have a special connection with people from there ’cause of Rebeka. πŸ™‚ There’s a lady with a sort of cowboy hat on, hehe. The blue shirted TSA people are scary looking. πŸ˜› I can see a SW plane ahead to the left a bit…

Do you know what’s strange? I should feel alone, but I don’t. I guess that’s what comes of having Jesus with and in you…

. . . There are huge windows here. I love windows…

For all my being nervous before, I’m pretty calm. God again. πŸ™‚

. . . I wonder how my room will be–how many roommates, and what sort of beds and furnishings. I expect it’ll be fairly plain, but I’m still interested.

Boy this is weird… just over a month ago it ’twas just a neat idea. Now there’s no turning back. Wonder how this will go…

This life of faith stuff is fun. And scary. And… kinda… easy? ‘Cause… I mean… it’s God. And He’s really awesome. Sooo… having faith He’ll come through isn’t real hard.

Life is so interesting. I like seeing people who look interested in it… sadly not many folks do. But a few.

I wonder where all these people are going… there’s always tons of things to wonder about people–but even more at airports, I think.

. . . Two new people came and sat down in front of me. One lady smiled–first ’twas fake, but it got real ’cause mine was. I like getting people to smile. πŸ™‚

I counted nine people using devices and five not. I couldn’t see the rest. The new ladies aren’t so it’s 9-7 now. Some of the folks that were aren’t now, though. Which, good for them. (pardon me while I check mine.)

. . . So many straight faces around. Goodness people, stop taking this so serious! ‘we’re gonna fly in th’ air!’ [Tim Hawkins quote] πŸ˜€ I won’t get lonely with a journal, hehe.

. . . (Lady next to me just told someone to pray and leave it in God’s hands.)

They are calling my flight!!

Actually they were calling my flight to board. And I’m on! πŸ˜€ I’m one seat over from a guy with a black shirt that says, ‘Got Dirt?’ Haha, thought papa would like that. πŸ™‚

I’m in a cloud! Wheee! πŸ˜€ It’s really white. I wonder if blizzards look that way. I am in front of the wing, almost in front–only three rows back.

3:43Β  Flying almost an hour now. πŸ™‚ I’m excited. As usual, once my hand is to the plow and there’s no turning back, nervousness has subsided and excitement come in. πŸ™‚

The view out the window is so fascinating. It changes really often and it’s always cool.

. . . Man, clouds are so cool!! πŸ˜€ And I’m really random. Ahem.

4:15 I must seem ADD. I keep switching what I’m doing… reading, writing, looking out the window, taking pictures–repeat. Oh well. My row mate is doing the same thing, except he’s reading a big thick manual, doing his laptop, and ‘sleeping’, haha.

. . .Whoa, city! There’s an x! Actually 3! I wonder what spot they mark. So I thought the windows got dusty–upon closer examination, it’s ice crystals! Coolness. Literally. πŸ˜€

5:29–I am here, at the Buffalo airport! The plane landed at 5:03. I have my bags and now I’m waiting for them to come…

. . . Why on earth do the baggage claims make a horrible alarm noise and flash red?! I always feel like I’ve done something wrong. πŸ˜› #randomthingsatairports #twitter #RebekaFry

(say! a green shirt! The lady smiled when I looked up, except it was the ‘you-are-weird-and-caught-me-looking’ smile.)

10:45 pm- Well, I’m here! Supper got late (past 9) but it was yummy–chicken, potatoes, carrots and onions, corn, salad, tomato and basil and cheese salad, bread… think that’s all. The people here are friendly. I have 2 roommates–Victoria’s 19 and Amanda’s 21. I am tired. πŸ˜› The Mission is pretty epic–definitely a big old house. It smells cool. The sunset and view on the way was splendid!

And thus our adventure began. This post would be much longer than it already is if I told you everything that happened in those nine weeks… If you’re really curious, you can go here to see more of the in-between.

Mostly, I got to know these people: (And yes, I even got to know myself better, haha.) And God.

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I guess I’ll just quote from the end of my J127 journal to sum it all up…

“It was quite the experience. I don’t think I’ve ever learned that much in 9 weeks, nor have I had that many different experiences.

I thought I would get homesick and miss my family lots, but I really didn’t. I think I just really focused on where I was and what I was doing, for once in my life. πŸ™‚ Plus the Mission is awesome and I came to love it very soon, and the people are wonderful and we became a family very fast. And I really do love them too.

I think I succeeded pretty well at taking it like I hoped to… there’s always room for improvement, but I think I was pointed in the right direction. I could’ve done better at being open with my team, but I did better than I might have.

I’ve definitely grown a lot, though it’s hard to see…

I’m still not really… sure what it all means, what I’m supposed to do now… I mean there are things to apply where I am now, like some of the worship leading stuff in BL and such, but otherwise… I guess I just need to wait and listen to God on that. He’s perfectly capable of guiding me, as this trip has shown so well.

I feel such a responsibility to do something with it all–though, I guess I’ve got to remember that it’s a lot about being, too. More even than the doing. That’s really the important part.

Relational. haha… so true though. [In reference to a sort of inside joke]

Oh, I do miss them all… I am very excited to see my family too though.

. . . I think one of the main things [I learned] is to live in LOVE, not fear.”

I feel like I ought to say something deep about it all… but it’s the sort of thing that’s too broad and too deep to concisely explain its impact. So I guess I’ll just have to keep thinking about it. Maybe eventually I’ll be able to explain it a little better.

Anyway. I’m excited for the new batch of J127 students… I’m sure they’ll have a wonderful time as well. Though I expect it’ll be quite different than ours was, haha. For instance they probably won’t eat tons of spicy Ramen and they probably won’t end up coloring their hair purple and they probably won’t end up having inside jokes involving sheep and scourging. πŸ˜‰ But they’ll have their own crazy experiences and weird inside jokes… πŸ™‚

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My Life Lately

So… the last week/two weeks have been intense, especially this past weekend. The good kind of intense.

It’s interesting how it works. I started praying more, and then I started getting lots of requests for prayer (Even though I didn’t announce that I was praying more), and lots of opportunities to serve. It’s been so awesome this time, too, because I feel like I finally have started learning to serve out of love and joy for God’s glory.

On Friday I was busy with housework and keeping my siblings busy… in the evening I went and took pictures of a young couple from church at the beach.

Saturday, Hannah and I helped scrape carpet glue off the floors in the new Pregnancy Solutions location (that is about five minutes or less away from our house!!) for a few hours and managed to get blisters on our hands (which was actually kind of cool in an odd sort of way. I know it’s very small, but there was something exciting about suffering in a physical way for Christ.). Then we cleaned and cooked in preparation for company the next day (I managed to burn both of my hands and my face with the jalapeno. Thankfully Hannah knew to put oil on it, so it only lasted a few minutes.) went shopping, and got Panera Bread. We rushed home, did a few last minute things, and then Mama, Emily and Esther got home! (with papa and William and Matthew who had gone to pick them up. They were in Orlando helping family.)

On Sunday a Missionary spoke and told about some opportunities for short term mission trips. Afterwards, he and two friends came and ate tacos with us. (yum!) After they left, I “randomly” decided to charge my phone. Then I took a nap. πŸ˜€ We started watching a movie, and then I checked my phone (which is actually a rare occurrence.) and deleted some texts since my inbox was full. Just as I finished that, I got a text from one of my friends and she ended up calling. We had a really good talk that lasted about an hour and a half. The day wasn’t over then either–Papa, Hannah, Emily and I went to church again and set up for Bright Lights.

Monday morning, Hannah and I were at work talking to Papa. And he said, “I think you two and Josiah should go to Central America in December.” We were like, um… okay! So we started looking up the website, printing stuff out, etc. Then we had to pull our focus back to Bright Lights, haha. So we prayed and talked about that… towards the end of the day, I had a talk with a cousin of mine who is quite troubled, and Hannah talked to another friend of ours on the phone who is also going through some really hard times. We picked up one of the BL girls, went home, ate chili and got stuff, went to church, picked up another girl and did Bright Lights. Later I talked to one of the BL girls on Facebook… she’s making hard but awesome decisions. Finally went to bed well after midnight… we were all excited and talking. πŸ˜›

There are many other little things that happened in the days before… conversations, prayers answered, new prayer requests and so on.

I guess I just wanted to mention all this to say that… God is amazing. It is an incredible privilege to serve Him. And PRAY. Seriously. That’s where all this other stuff starts. You’ll soon find, as I have, that an hour isn’t long enough.

Also–please pray for us as we get ready to go to Central America (Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador) in three months!!

P.S. An hour of prayer early in the morning, even if you went to bed late, is much more energizing than coffee. Seriously, you should try it.

101 Things that Happened While I Was 22…

{In no particular order at all…}

  1. I started a new blog to combine all my blogs.
  2. I watched The Hobbit in 3D.
  3. I started playing guitar.
  4. I was given a guitar for Christmas.
  5. Our Bright Lights group doubled in size.
  6. I read many life-changing books.
  7. My baby sister learned how to walk and talk.
  8. I planted an herb garden.
  9. I helped plant a vegetable garden.
  10. I wrote thousands of words and 100 plus blog posts.
  11. I went away from home for nine weeks, alone.
  12. I traveled to New York.
  13. And Minnesota.
  14. And Colorado.
  15. And lots in between.
  16. I got in a car accident. (well, I was in the front passenger seat.)
  17. I experienced doing a 360 on the highway. (also in the passenger seat.)
  18. I learned about Schluter waterproofing.
  19. I went to Coverings (flooring show) in Georgia.
  20. We went camping twice.
  21. I hosted a Purim celebration.
  22. I got much better at cooking.
  23. I toured the Nina and Pinta.
  24. I helped organize child care for a family conference.
  25. I played Holy Holy Holy on guitar at Bright Lights.
  26. I performed on the guitar with Hannah and with Daniel and Emily.
  27. I learned I’m decent at archery.
  28. I learned more about sword fighting.
  29. I prayed far more than any previous year.
  30. I toured a newspaper office.
  31. I took five of my younger siblings to the Tampa zoo (and no one even got eaten).
  32. I helped run and organize a tile store.
  33. I promoted a company via social media/website and actually got customers.
  34. I took thousands of pictures.
  35. We participated in a homeschool family Olympics.
  36. I participated in the communion sharing time several times.
  37. We went geocaching.
  38. I helped teach/organize 4 (or more?) teen events with GOV.
  39. I sold books with GOV.
  40. I met many amazing godly people.
  41. Including the Ludys.
  42. And Dana Gresh.
  43. I made a crest/flag.
  44. I sang in a chapel by candlelight.
  45. I learned that I’m INTP and DICS
  46. I colored my hair purple
  47. I climbed rocks.
  48. I went to Whit’s End.
  49. I got security training.
  50. I packed books.
  51. I made 2 pies.
  52. We got our first real Christmas tree.
  53. I got a Facebook account.
  54. And a Twitter account.
  55. And a Pintrest account.
  56. I got good at cutting out snowflakes.
  57. I filled up several journals.
  58. I memorized James 1.
  59. I had at least 7 different drinks at Starbucks (including chai tea and hot chocolate).
  60. I made new friends.
  61. I got a new camera.
  62. I was used by God to speak to several people.
  63. I learned new ways of praying and communicating with God.
  64. I started keeping in touch with several BL girls during the weeks in between meetings.
  65. I chatted (IM) way less.
  66. I did a few little drawings
  67. I died many times…
  68. I learned to trust God more.
  69. I became more whole in some ways.
  70. I surrendered to God in ways I didn’t know I could.
  71. I got to experience autumn in upstate New York.
  72. I read lots and lots of books to Esther
  73. I stopped many sibling fights.
  74. I helped in Nursery.
  75. I helped clean up from several fellowship meals.
  76. I cleaned the church.
  77. I went canoeing a few times.
  78. One of my best friends was sentenced to five years in prison.
  79. My mom got in a car accident and had to have therapy for months.
  80. I’ve been splitting time between work and home.
  81. I learned a new specie of birds–Sterling Jay.
  82. I learned to worship God more freely.
  83. I went to several BNI meetings and subbed for various people.
  84. I wrote poems.
  85. I learned new songs.
  86. I climbed trees.
  87. I wrote letters.
  88. I cried harder.
  89. I laughed louder.
  90. I smiled more meaningfully.
  91. I thought more than ever.
  92. I learned more of living in the moment.
  93. I learned that I have the gift of intercession.
  94. I went to PA with Hannah.
  95. I learned new games.
  96. I started sponsoring a child.
  97. I sponsored 5 Bibles.
  98. I ate cattail stems.
  99. I learned something of “Christ in you, the hope of glory.”
  100. I learned to love God more.
  101. And too many other things to list.

Blogging Break

There are a lot of things that can be used for good in this world. One of them is blogging.

But, for reasons best known to Him, God asks us to give up good things. Sometimes forever, sometimes only for a day, sometimes for weeks, months, years.

In the past few years, He has asked me to give Him many, many things: good things and bad ones alike. I’m learning that as I empty myself of–well, myself–He is coming in and filling me up. The odd thing is that I still resist sometimes, even though I’ve seen the blessing of surrender time and time again. (The flesh really hates being killed. Imagine that.)

And, um, it so happens I’ve been resisting this particular thing for a little while now… I sort of “forgot”. You know, the sort of “forgetting” where you don’t want to do something, so you conveniently confuse it with something else and then think, “He didn’t really mean give up that too, cause I already gave up the other thing.”

Well, He did.

(And yes the “thing” is blogging.)

Not forever; at least I don’t think so. But for a season. It may be that I’ll learn quickly and be back in a week… or it may take a month or a year. I don’t really know.

I am sensing that He wants me to stop talking and start listening. I have a tendency to sort-of learn something and then rush off to blog about it or talk about it or whatever–instead of really letting God work it into my character. He wants to empty me of my words and fill me with His. And since He is unfathomably more than I, that is probably a good idea. (probably meaning, “duh”.)

I’ll still be writing, I’m sure, since that is just how I process. But it will be between me and God, for now. Until my heart is ready…

Thank you for understanding. Prayers appreciated. πŸ™‚

Sacrifice

On my J127 trip, I visited a Compassion International booth at a mom’s conference we went to. There were so many beautiful pictures of little faces. I had considered sponsoring a child before, and I finally felt like the time was right.

Why? Because I knew how much money I was making every month. It wasn’t much, but I would share the cost with my sister who also had a reliable monthly income, and it would only be $19 per month for each of us ($38 total). It was brilliant. The only thing now was to choose which child to sponsor.

I had no clue how one does this, so I just looked and looked. And that night, I prayed. One particular girl’s picture kept coming to mind, so I figured I would go with her. Her name was Ruth, she was four, and she had a blue shawl thing wrapped around her and pinned with an enormous safety pin.

So I went home with this nice little packet.

And I found out that I no longer had a reliable monthly income. (Welcome to family business…)

In spite of the fact that I had just trusted God to provide $3,000 (and watched Him come through gloriously), I still sometimes doubted that He could provide that little bit needed monthly. I would get all stressed out--it’s the day before, and no money. And, of course, money would come.

And I laugh to myself, because isn’t that just how God is?

He wants us to learn to rely on Him. Not on money, not on ourselves, not on anything of this world. Just Him.

Here I was, thinking I’m this rich white lady going to help this poor struggling family–and then I come to find out that I, myself, am poor and helpless. I can’t even guarantee that I will have $38 in the bank on time.

I need Him just as badly as they do.

I thought I was going to be doing this thing in my own strength. I didn’t think it would require much sacrifice. And it hasn’t, not really. Not compared with what HE did. Still, though, it required much more than I anticipated. And I’m so glad.

It’s not the money we need so much as it is the faith in God. Here they are trusting God to provide through me–and here I am, having to trust God to provide for them through me. And He is.

I got a rather large sum of money recently (for me…), and I divided it all up into nice little sections and promptly spent it all. Books, savings (Well that wasn’t spent, but anyways.), clothes for me, the money for Ruth, decorations for the store, and so forth. But there was still some extra, in the bank.

I got an email from Voice of the Martyrs. People wanted–needed–Bibles. $30 could buy and send 5 Bibles, they said. They knew the names of these folks who wanted Bibles. And I was ready to just move on…. but then I thought, hey, how much money do I have anyways? So I checked. I had $68.58. Guess what that meant? I had exactly enough (well, I had .58 to spare) to send 5 Bibles and sponsor Ruth that month.

Well.

So I did it. And I got this nice little paper in the mail–with five names. I can’t even pronounce them. But they are real people, who really have a Bible now. Because… I made a sacrifice.

Such a slight one.

It’s almost unbearable, how slight it was. Some of these people might die. Because of that book. And all I did was take out my card, punch in the numbers, and decrease my bank account by a mere $30.

It’s a start. It’s the beginning of something I want to be marked out by. But I don’t want to be alone. This is something we all are called to, dear brothers and sisters.

A life of sacrifice.

Think of the One we follow. Who has sacrificed more than this Jesus Christ? He gave up heaven. He gave up His life. He gave up His reputation. Everything.

But guess what?

He also gained everything. We’ve got to remember that.

It isn’t just sacrifice, sacrifice, sacrifice, forever and ever amen.

It’s sacrifice everything down here, to gain everything up there.

One Week

Wednesday, April 3rd. Settlers of Catan, plus various home things. (not pictured)

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Thursday, April 4th. Boarded the Nina and Pinta. (Plus Esther and Josiah shared earbuds.)

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Friday, April 5th. Blocks, dominoes, candles, dice, gardening, Red-Winged Black birds, Nostpinning (Emily),

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Saturday, April 6th. Family Conference at HisRanch. Tons of very energetic children to organize.

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Sunday, April 7th. Church, Fellowship meal (no pictures, sorry), Tampa with Cousins!!

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Monday, April 8th. Work, Bright Lights, crazy happy girls.

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Tuesday, April 9th. Sunrises, 360 degree turns on the highway (ask for the story, and sorry no pictures.), Schluter training, hands-on, yummy food.

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Wednesday, April 10th. More sunrise pictures, more yummy food, more Schluter training, no 360 on the highway, take down, rain on the way home.

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And that, folks, was my week. I’d like to say that was unusually busy, and I guess it was. But not by much. πŸ˜› And that may, perhaps, explain my lack of posting this week. There were other things, too. It wasn’t that I wasn’t thinking (because I can never remember a time when I didn’t think.), but more that I’m developing some new-ish thoughts, and old ones are growing deeper. So… more blog posts coming up! πŸ™‚

On Being Right

I want to be right. I love being right.

I love it way too much. I love it so much that I am afraid to ask questions, afraid to make bold statements–because what if I’m wrong??

When I’m saner I know that being wrong is really not that bad. How else are you going to learn? But so often I find myself desperately clinging to my right-ness.

And when the horrible realization comes that I am wrong–not just about one particular thing, but just plain wrong–it hurts.

I like knowing stuff. I like being able to understand it and explain it. I like it way too much.

So much that instead of just resting in the fact that God knows, again and again I strive to figure it out.

When I’m saner I know He knows and I’m content to trust Him. But so often I find myself pleading to know.

Lately God’s been showing me how much I’m wrong and how much I don’t know. It isn’t fun at all.

But it’s good.

Because when I am weak, then He is strong. As I let go of me, I gain more of Him.

I don’t really know how to explain it–how horrible and how wonderful this exchange is.

Even though we are gaining Him, and He is so good and so worthy and so glorious, it doesn’t change the fact that dying hurts. It doesn’t change the fact that it’s all by faith, and we can’t see, quite, all that is really happening–we don’t see the end. We don’t see, fully, why we must die, why our dreams must die. We only know that they must, if we are to have Him. And it hurts.

What does change it all is when we look at Him, and see that He does it all for love.

And that not only does He ask all–He gave all. He knows what it is like.

In times of my deepest distress, reading Isaiah 53 has been so much help.

He is despised and rejected by men,
A Man of sorrows and acquainted with grief.
And we hid, as it were, our faces from Him;
He was despised, and we did not esteem Him.

Surely He has borne our griefs
And carried our sorrows;
Yet we esteemed Him stricken,
Smitten by God, and afflicted.

But He was wounded for our transgressions,
He was bruised for our iniquities;
The chastisement for our peace was upon Him,
And by His stripes we are healed.

Oh, what a difference it makes to have a Savior who suffered! He knows what it is like. And, even more astonishing–He did it for us! For you, for me. Even though we despised and rejected Him! Crazy.

So when He asks you to take a hard path–know that He really does know what it’s like, and He only does it for love.

Turn, in the trouble, the pain, and look with faith-eyes on Him, and trust that He does it all because He loves you and wants you to be holy. Holiness is not a bad thing. It is for our profit, for our good. What could be better than being freed from our sin, and being set apart for and to Him, the Lover of your soul?

Random Learnings

God is so, so good, and so very kind. And patient. He’s been teaching me so many things–things He has tried to show me before, but things I still haven’t quite grasped yet. I’m just going to share a few little snippets here… they may not make particular sense to you, so my apologies in advance. But… then again, perhaps God will use them for you, in your own struggles. I am not going to explain all of the context–some of you will know without my telling you… but for the rest, it would simply take too long, and there is no need for you to take my burdens on top of yours.

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“Not only is what is thus given up received back again to become doubly our own [speaking of spiritual gifts], but the forsaking all is followed by the receiving all. We abide in Christ more fully as we forsake allΒ  and follow Him. As I count all things loss for His sake, I am found in Him. Abide in Christ

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“. . .from T. C. Upham’s Inward Divine Guidance: “The disposition. . . to leave the dearest objects of our hearts in the sublime keeping of the general and unspecific belief that God is now answering our prayers in His own time and way, and in the best manner, involves a process of inward crucifixion which is obviously unfavorable to the growth and even the existence of the life of self. Passion and Purity

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“Think of the self God has given as an acorn. It is a marvelous little thing, a perfect shape, perfectly designed for its purpose, perfectly functional. Think of the grand glory of an oak tree. God’s intention when He made the acorn was the oak tree. His intention for us is “. . . the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ.” Many deaths must go into our reaching that measure, many letting-goes. When you look at the oak tree, you don’t feel that the “loss” of the acorn is a very great loss. The more you perceive God’s purpose in your life, the less terrible will the losses seem. Passion and Purity

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“What kind of a God is it who asks everything of us? The same God who ‘. . . did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all; and with this gift how can he fail to lavish upon us all He has to give?’

He gives all.

He asks all.” Passion and Purity

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“Do you not know that flesh and blood cannot reveal it unto you, but only the Father in heaven? ‘Cease from thine own wisdom.’ (Prov. 23:4). You have but to bow in the confession of your own ignorance and helplessness; the Father will delight to give you the teaching of the Holy Spirit. If only your ears are open, your thoughts brought into subjection, and your heart prepared in silence to wait upon God and to hear what He speaks, He will reveal to you His secrets. And one of the first secrets will be the deeper insight into the truth, that as you sink low before Him in nothingness and helplessness, in a silence and a stillness of soul that seeks to catch the faintest whisper of His love, teachings will come to you that you had never heard before because of the rush and noise of your own thoughts and efforts.” Abide in Christ

"Sunny" even in though it's stormy

“Abide in Christ! [I bet you can already guess which book this is from. Ahem.] This is indeed the Father’s object in sending the trial. In a storm, the tree strikes deeper roots in the soil; in a hurricane, the inhabitants of the house abide within and rejoice in its shelter. So, by suffering, the Father would lead us to enter more deeply into the love of Christ. . . . It is an unspeakable mercy that the Father comes with His chastisement, makes the world around us all dark and unattractive, and leads us to feel our sinfulness more deeply, and, for a time, lose our joy in what was becoming so dangerous. He does it in the hope that, when we have found our rest in Christ in time of trouble, we will learn to choose abiding in Him as our only portion; and so that when the affliction is removed, we will have so grown more firmly into Him, that in prosperity He will still be our only joy.” Abide in Christ.

Also, I am learning to think, when faced with some little or big trial, that this has come to me from a loving God, who is seeking to draw me to Himself and sanctify me. What can I learn from it? How would He have me respond? It makes so much difference.

Those are [just a few] thoughts that have stood out to me lately. There is so much to be learned at His feet! What has He been teaching you there recently?

Of Soul-Struggle and God’s Voice

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Oh… why is it always thus? Why no answers, no ‘finis’? Why just the silence and ache and questions?

I know–I know I must trust Him. I do, mostly. But–and here is my still-weak ‘but’–But when am I to know?

. . . Is… is it, “wait,” even still? How long, oh Lord, how long?

Thy time, it is best. We wait for Thee alone. Thou knowest the way; Thou wilt lead us. Oh, God, sustain my heart; for it is weak. Lead me, guide me, teach me to love. Cast out my fear with Thy perfect, unending love.

You. Are. Good.

And I will ever praise You.

Just after that journal prayer, I went to read “Abide in Christ.” This is what I read:

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And more… but you get the idea. (If you want to read more you should BUY IT.) It was, precisely, what I needed to hear. The sense of God speaking to my need was overwhelming.

I went out side, then, and enjoyed the cool night air, the stars, the scented air, and the rough comfort of my praying tree. But even more than that, I enjoyed my God. Afterwards, I journaled the whole experience…

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. . .There came, from the canal, repeated, violent splashings–I was, of course, curious, but stayed in the tree. For awhile. Finally I went and got a head lamp booklight, which… did very little. So I sat on one of the chairs on the patio. Heard more–tried to see again. <repeat several times.> Still couldn’t see anything. Tried to guess what it was. That is–until I suddenly realized that this was, as Amy Carmichael says, “A figure of the true.”

The splashing in the dark–the mysterious troubles, the unanswerable, tumbling questions.

The light–my attempts to figure it out on my own, which a. Did not work and b. Distracted me from God.

So… I let the splashing continue, and I turned my eyes upward to the stars, and my heart learned, yet more, to abide with the One who is here. The One who knows. The One who has gone before. The one who sees the end. The One who is Good. The One… Who loves… me.

Siblings are Children Too.

{These are mine. You can’t have them.}

I’ve always had these dreams, you know. Of how someday, when I have children, I’ll do this and that and the other thing. I’ll cook with them and catch tadpoles with them and I’ll do crafts and I won’t get mad and I’ll play games with them.

After awhile of this thinking, I realized that I would not treat my children any better than I was treating my siblings, and I didn’t much like that fact. How I was treating them was a great deal different from how I wanted to treat my imaginary Future Children. So, slowly, I started changing how I related to them. And it was great–I thought I’d be much better at taking care of “my children” someday.

Until–the thought came: I may never have children of my own.

I might die before I do. I might not get married. I might not be able to have children.

And then I realized that my siblings are children too. Real, living, laughing, screaming, learning children. Who are in my life. Who look up to me.

Children that I am impacting, for good or for ill. Children whose spirits are eternal. Children who will grow up and impact this world.

No, I didn’t give birth to them. (Siblings that are reading this, you can stop making weird faces. Thank you.) But they are in my life. And for this season, when I am here at home, I want to be faithful in how I interact with them. I still have a long way to go (It is helpful to know that your siblings are reading your blog, it keeps you humble.), but that is my desire.

My siblings aren’t just preparation for some imaginary children–they are real children that I really am impacting, whether it’s intentional or not. So I am making an effort to make it intentional.

And any other older siblings who are reading this–I encourage you to do the same. God put you in the family He did for a reason. Don’t waste this opportunity to bless, encourage and love them. Use it to the full!