Deep Thoughts

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At the last Bright Lights meeting, we had a spontaneous time of sharing. It was wonderful. Some really cool thoughts and stories were shared and I am starting to think that I can learn more from them than they can learn from me.

One of the thoughts was from my friend Brianne. She talked about how God is teaching her that often the most beautiful things are found in the most dangerous, scary places. She told a story of how she was hiking with her mom, and they decided to chose the scarier looking path (complete with spiders) instead of the well traveled one… and how that led to some beautiful oak trees that made it all worth it.

I’ve been thinking about it a lot since… and it’s so true and so deep. Especially with love.

Love is terrifying. Might as well just say it. It’s hard. It hurts. It’s pretty much… impossible.

That is, without God.

We’ve been talking about God’s love over the past three meetings and… I think it’s finally starting to sink in. For me. I spent hours thinking and praying about it and I finally got to the point where I wept.

He asks that I humble myself–that I stand before Him with no excuses, nothing to hide behind–and admit my sin. To Him. Holy, Holy, Holy. Who cannot bear to look on sin.

That is a horrifying thing to do.

But when I did it, I found, once again, the most beautiful truth of all: He loves me anyway and has made a way; has paid my fine.

His love and my sin stood in such terrible contrast… I saw how unworthy I am and yet I KNEW, deeper than ever, that He loves me. Oh, what a life-changing truth.

And… my heart is being softened, again. I am remembering that I am Loved and because of that I am free to love others.

It hurts. It scares me.

But I am learning, like Brianne, that this path is worth it; that ultimately it leads to the greatest joy and beauty.

On Guard

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One of the highlights of the trip ended up being our guards. Whenever people from the US see or hear about them, they usually get rather alarmed and think of how dangerous it must have been for us to have needed guards. Well, yes. But we saw a lot more. We saw the governor taking care of us.–she is a friend of the ministry (in spite of being communist, go figure), and when she heard about the attack on SOS in Nigeria, she said, “not on my watch” and sent us four guards.

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I must admit, at first it was rather startling to see guys with M16s hanging around. Not exactly something I’m used to. We were all a bit uneasy about it, since we had no idea what sort of men they were. But we also saw an opportunity: to share the gospel and to love them. So we were very nice to them–thanking them, giving them plenty of good food (And snacks. Their pockets were full of snacks by the end, haha.), praying for them, talking to them about life and Christ, getting them to join in on our fun, taking them with us when we ministered in the villages (partly for our safety, but I think it really was more for their benefit.) and so on.

Oh, and we also saw an opportunity to take pictures with them. πŸ˜› This was the last day… on the left is Jose A. and on the right is Sgt. Jose. (we had three Joses)

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And I’ll put this one in here just because it’s a great picture.

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On the last morning, Shelly and Paul had a really good opportunity to talk to the guards and have a Bible study with them. Several of us had been talking to them all week, but that morning was very special. I went over closer to pray, and ended up joining the group… I pulled over a chair for Sgt. Jose and myself. I mainly just listened and prayed. I was really excited, not only because of what was happening, but also because I actually understood most of it even though it was nearly entirely in Spanish. It was a very neat experience. The best part was that several of them indicated that they were ready to accept Christ. I am not sure exactly what happened with them, but they are certainly very close and there is at least one of them that I believe got it. We have been in touch with him via facebook and there is some evidence of life change. Please be in prayer for them.

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During our group devotion time, we had been talking a lot about being watchful and on guard in our prayers… I thought it was a nice idea, but wasn’t exactly sure what it meant in real life–Until the the night before we left, when I sensed something wrong spiritually. Three times in a row I either heard or heard of someone being criticized. I prayed some, but then as I was sitting and thinking about it, I saw one of the guards over on the side, watching. And I realized that it’s just like their job, only they are looking for physical trouble and we are looking for spiritual trouble. Most of the time it seems like everything’s fine–until it’s not. And if you aren’t watching, you won’t see it until it is too late.

In the experience that I had that night, had I not been paying attention, I would not have realized that it was a spiritual attack, and I would have been swept right into it. In fact I almost was, which was part of what raised my suspicions that something was actually wrong spiritually.

After I realized that about being on guard, I went and talked to a lady on the team that I had become close to, and we prayed together. It turned out she had been criticized as well. Shortly after we prayed, I was talked to. If I hadn’t been praying and seeing the trouble, I likely would have responded differently and it could’ve become a real issue. Instead we ended up all praying against that spirit of criticism together, and we were more united instead of less so. It was not a very nice experience on the whole, but I learned a lot.

Since coming back to the US, I realized how few of us are on guard spiritually here. I know my guard went way down when I got here. If it wasn’t for my experience there, it might have stayed down. However, I was watching, and I saw what was happening… the more I think about it, the more disturbed become.

Something is wrong, really wrong, here in the US. We don’t even realize that there IS a battle half the time… It seems to me that the enemy has quite the deception going on here. There, people know there’s a real spiritual battle. Here, we’re “too smart” to believe in all that. Oh, our prideful, intelligent ignorance. How blind we are! And how much power we have given to the enemy. There is so much evil here that we just don’t see because we aren’t looking. We aren’t on guard. And so the enemy infiltrates with little to no resistance… and too often, by the time someone sounds the alarm, it is too late and much damage is done. We are not even defending ourselves in prayer and in the word… much less actually attacking and doing damage to our enemy.

I am pleading with God that He will open the eyes of the US church… that she will stop being deceived by her riches and see what is happening. There is so much we are missing… both of the very real spiritual battle and of the riches of Christ. It deeply saddens me… how much more must it sadden our dear Savior. We have become like those who…

…have healed the hurt of the daughter of My people slightly,
Saying, β€˜Peace, peace!’
When there is no peace.
12Β Were they ashamed when they had committed abomination?
No! They were not at all ashamed,
Nor did they know how to blush.
Therefore they shall fall among those who fall;
In the time of their punishment
They shall be cast down,” says the Lord.

Jeremiah 8

Let us fall on our faces before God and ask for His forgiveness and healing. Let us watch and pray.

And… it Already Happened.

SOS group

The trip was amazing in so many ways… I will be blogging about it for a long time, most likely. But there are a few things I want to talk about right now, and they’re thoughts that came after the trip. So… here it goes.

Coming back home was way harder than I expected. I didn’t want to leave… and then when we got to the Atlanta airport and there were two TVs on one wall with a stupid story about Duck Dynasty and a newspaper article with “Obama” in it, and there were so many people who weren’t happy and weren’t speaking Spanish, and there was SO MUCH STUFF and it was so bright and there were so many words and… I just wanted to go back. It didn’t help that more and more team mates were leaving at each part of the trip, starting the day before.

I was happy to see my family, but even home felt odd and unfamiliar. I’m afraid I wasn’t very mature in working through it… nor was I focusing on others.

Sunday morning, though, I went outside to pray and think and read my Bible… and I realized something.

When I was in Central America, there wasn’t the slightest wondering whether or not I needed God’s help. I was tired and sick; I was in a strange place; I was with loads of new people; I was doing things I’d never done before; I was very obviously involved in God’s work… and so forth. I knew right from the start that I had better spend time early in the morning praying and reading the Bible or it just wouldn’t work. And I did. And God gave me strength and words and blessing. It was hard; but He was there.

Back home I wasn’t spending time with Him first thing. Somehow I thought I didn’t need Him anymore; not consciously, of course–not in so many words–but that’s what I was saying. And that’s a huge part of the danger here. There, we were well aware of the dangers, both physically and spiritually. We were alert; on guard in our prayers.

Here, you don’t see the battle sharply. It’s still there; in some ways even worse than in Central America. But in America we can afford to cover it up. There, when you don’t know if you’re going to have food for the next day, and your life is in danger from many other directions, it’s pretty hard to pretend. Life and death is a real and constant struggle. But here… we can actually seem to get along okay without God. We can distract ourselves from our soul struggle. We can bury it. Of course it doesn’t quite work, but we still try. And to some extent we don’t see it anymore; we don’t have to face it straight on.

There, you look into these beautiful faces and you see a person without God, without hope, and your heart aches for them to know, to see. You so badly want them to get it–you want them to come to Christ. And you pray and you cry and you hike and you keep on even though you’re sick and don’t really have the strength. Because how else will they hear?

Here, you hurry along quietly in your busy busy day (why must we always be so busy? What’s so wrong with just being alive, talking and BEING?), mostly ignoring others. They are just as lost as those dear ones there; but yet, somehow, it is easier to ignore. They can figure it out; someone else will tell them. They already have enough information, they already have their own beliefs.

There, you speak words of encouragement and blessing to your brothers and sisters in Christ… you realize vividly how tough the battle is for them. You ask how they are, and really listen. You do whatever you can for them with what little time you have, and you wish you could do more. You give hugs. You pray. You love them. And you can’t even speak their language.

Here, we’re often “too busy” (with what, pray tell??) even for that. We don’t usually take the time to really know how people are doing; we don’t love enough to help even though it hurts and it’s messy. We know the language; we live close by. And yet somehow we don’t see how hard the battle is here, for them. Perhaps because they aren’t sitting in a mud hut and telling you about how hard life is as one of the only Christian families in the area. But that doesn’t mean that things are okay.

It’s tragic, really.

And I pray it ends with us. Let’s not be too busy for people, saved or unsaved. Let’s take time to listen, to really care. To pray. To help.

What Now?

Otherwise known as, “What is God’s plan for my life?” Or, “What in the world, this is NOT how I thought it would go!! What am I gonna dooo?? (AIO reference)”

So… recently my dad told me there’s a new thing now. It’s a “quarter century crisis” or a “quarter life crisis” or something along those lines. Something about freaking out when you’re in your mid-twenties. And I grinned a bit, but said that I can understand that. Of course I’m not at a quarter century yet and won’t be for a year and a half ish (eek), but still–I get it.

And I’m not the only one. The more I talk to and observeΒ  people, especially young ladies, the more I realize how common this is. Things don’t really go how we thought they would, especially when we were younger and thought that of course we’d be married (or in some sort of ministry or career) by 18 or so.

We’re 20 something, not married, not really “settled” in any sort of career or ministry yet… wondering what it all means and what we’re supposed to do.

Of course I don’t have it figured out yet… but I do have a few thoughts forming.

The first is that dreams must die: must be surrendered to God. This doesn’t mean that we can’t dream, or that dreams are bad. Far from it. I think dreaming and dreams are wonderful things. But like everything else, if they are not given to God, they can take a wrong position in our hearts–and they can end up being quite harmful, whether fulfilled or not.

God has dreams for us, too. And as one of the Bright Lights girls said last week (when giving a testimony about giving up a life-long dream), God’s dreams are way more amazing than ours. So as we surrender our dreams, it makes room for His. Which may or may not include our dreams (only better).

The second is that… our lives here will never be as picture-perfect as we’d like. Life just is rough and confusing sometimes; well, most all the time. And often the most important things, the things that really make a difference, are rather boring and hard and not very noticeable. We may never even realize, if we don’t look hard, what God is doing during these in-between stages. We may not realize that He is using us powerfully, here, when we least “feel” or expect it.

Third, we need to be patient. With God, with ourselves, with… life. We need to rest in God, knowing that He will work it out as we trust and obey and love Him. He does have a plan and a purpose for us. We’ve got to reconcile ourselves to the fact that we don’t have everything figured out, and THAT IS OKAY, because God does. Sure, some people do (or seem to), but often, very often, God totally turns those plans on their head. (I know what that’s like.) So… just enjoy the ride. People will think you’re crazy, but oh well.

Fourth, YOU ARE ALIVE. Really. I promise. Right now, in your confused, in-between state, you are still a person. So LIVE. Pray. Be grateful. Love the people you’re with. Praise God where you’re at. Look for ways to serve, no matter how small. Remember that even if you are not “Doing anything Important” you can still be developing character that will last. God often does His deepest work behind the scenes, in the quiet times of our lives.

Fifth, (why is it spelled that way? It’s so awkward. Anyways.) don’t just sit around. Waiting on God doesn’t mean waiting like sitting around, it means waiting like trusting and working faithfully right where you are. God will bring along opportunities to serve, to try new things, to travel, to meet people. Take them!! If they don’t work out, well, now you know one more thing that isn’t right for you. But you’ll still learn something; you’ll still grow. And maybe the next thing that comes along will be the one you’ve been looking for. So just keep looking, keep trying new things. Remember that each experience helps to shape you into the person God wants you to be.

I probably could come up with more things, but I think I’ll just stop there. What is God teaching you during this stage of your life? What opportunities have you had recently that you might not have if your life had gone “as planned”? What are you grateful for right now, in this place?

The Rock Tumbler

So I’ve been struggling inwardly with various things–some of them really deep. (prayers appreciated!)

Last night I finally prayed the way I needed to… and during that prayer, something came to mind that helped some things make more sense to me. Whether or not God showed it to me, I’ll leave you to decide. But it helped me out quite a bit, and I thought it might help some of you. πŸ™‚

I first thought of a jewel or a gemstone… and then rather abruptly saw the process that went into making it all smooth.

First there was the more drastic part of sanding/cutting away parts, making it roughly into the right shape.

But then there’s the tumbling part; the part where there’s lots of little grains of sand, and lots of tumbling, and lots of annoying noise, and you can’t see what’s happening, and it takes SO LONG. (at least the little dinky one we had once did.)

And I’ve been feeling that lately.

I don’t see what God is doing. Sometimes I think I haven’t got anywhere at all, at least not on the inside.

There are many little “grains of sand” that annoy me and bother me and distract me.

I’ve definitely been feeling quite tumbled about, especially in my mind. It’s hard to know which way is up sometimes.

There’s been a lot of noise, inwardly and outwardly, and it doesn’t seem to be doing any good. All it seems to do is confuse me.

It seems like I’ve been in this place for a while, a long while, and I don’t know when it will end and I wish it would just hurry up.

And… having that image in my mind of the rock tumbler makes it all make a little more sense. God IS working, even though I can’t really see it and it just feels annoying and confusing. I’m realizing that I am not really used to this part yet. I was braced fairly well and mostly trusted God for the first round; the really hard stuff. But now this endless tumbling about with tiny grains of sand… ugh. Not nice.

But now I can understand, a little more, of what God is doing. And I am learning to be patient with Him as He allows me to go through this time in the Rock Tumbler. He knows what He’s doing, and He knows the outcome. I just need to submit to His work.

Tumbled Thoughts and Things

This has been a particularly strange morning. Not outwardly, but inwardly. I have no idea what’s going on, really. I’ve drawn a page full of swirlies, a page full of straight lines, a few pears and an apple and a mug, a ribbon, and a some other things. I just needed to draw. And now I feel like I have to write. Or run. Or punch or kick something. I miss the punching bag. And New York. And lots of people.

It’s gorgeous outside. Which is making me want to be outside and Do Things, but I’m inside in the office. The doors are open, though, which is good. And I can hear a bug, maybe a cicada, singing away. If you can call it that. But it is a happy sound. Also the sound of the printer, and Hannah rustling papers, and myself typing.

I’ve been thinking about Things, way too many things.

About ritualistic abuse and child sacrifice, and the fact that it happens here. About Halloween and the way it relates to the aforementioned. About our mission trip and what that means. About my life and what God wants me to focus on. About the opportunity to help fight Common Core. About Facebook and what it’s doing to us. About writing. About language, and the differences between languages, and grammar, and how that affects us. About God. About the Meaning of life. About the universe and it’s vastness and what that means. About my smallness and yet my value in God’s eyes, and that doesn’t make sense. About the tile business and how strange it is that I’m in it. About creation and the fact that it exists and why did God make it, really? About the spiritual world and it’s being real, and why don’t we think about it as real? About American culture and how out of touch we are in some ways. About the warped sexuality that is so pervasive here. About the great wrongs that are in the world that the church turns a blind eye to. About how can people just pretend they don’t see things. About how people can spend $13,000 on a TUB and there are children dying? About our government’s absurdity, especially in the realm of money and schools. About the family and it’s sorry state. About thinking about thinking. About friendship and what it really is and how do you do it? About words and Meaning and how that all works. About getting shots and which ones do we need? About fire and how it both sustains and destroys life. About our senses, both physical and spiritual. About learning guitar, and music, and what is music anyway? About working on our church building, and why don’t people help more? About everyone trying to be perfect, but no one is, and whyΒ  must we keep pretending? About abortion, and the girls who feel like they have no choice, and how it really is a way to get women to exploit themselves while thinking they are being “liberated” and what a wickedly despicable lie it is. About the fact that we have a Real enemy, but we act like we don’t and we are being attacked violently on a regular basis, without defense and without fighting back. About Pregnancy Solutions, and what a powerful, needed ministry they are. About how God has been putting so many opportunities in my path lately, and which should I focus on? About using time wisely, or not. About eternity and what it will be like. About the Bible, and how it was written and what to do about it. About my physical health and wondering if everything’s okay or not, and if I’m strong enough to go on the trip, probably I’m not, and that’s probably okay because God wants to show me that. About humility, and how necessary it is but how rare it is, and how can we be proud when God and the universe are so vast and we can’t even make ourselves taller, or create a fly? About the fact that so many very hurt people are hurt worse by the church, and how is that even possible?? About the fact that there are so many who say they are Christians, and yet don’t act like it, and if you point that out people say you are “throwing stones” and maybe they are the ones who are actually throwing them? About how crazy it is that we Christians can rejoice and glory in tribulation, not just accept it. About prison, and my friend who is there, and how people don’t talk about Such Things. About marriage and if it will ever happen to me, and maybe probably I’m too busy for a man. About all the girls I know who are struggling with so many things, and how it’s just not Right. About the Bright Lights girls and how dearly I want them to Get It about God and life. About how glad I am that the light switch is fixed. About how cute Esther is. About prayer and how it works and what it really is and why God set it up like that. About death and what it would be like to die and the fact that I probably will die. And so will people I love. About the fact that there are at least two people that I have a premonition will die for the cause of Christ. About rebuke that is done right and wrong. About faith and what it is and how to have it and why don’t we have more faith–maybe because we don’t want to? About… so many other things.

And this would be the reason I would sort of grin and think people should be very grateful that I didn’t take Facebook literally when it asked what was on my mind. πŸ˜›

It’s also why I haven’t been blogging much, because how on earth could I make those thoughts into blog posts, and which one would I start with??

And by the way, now all the blog posts in the sidebar start with T. For those who like That Sort of Thing.

And this has been a pretty much completely useless blog post, unless you happen to be fascinated with what I am thinking about; which I don’t know why you would be. Oh well. If you read all that, and if you wanted to hear more about one of those things, comment and let me know and maybe I’ll blog about it. Maybe.

Thoughts and Words

So I’ve been having lots of thoughts, but not many words. I don’t really know why, quite. Probably because my thoughts haven’t fully developed yet. Probably because there are so many of them. Maybe it’s just because I don’t understand them yet. (That actually happens rather a lot. If I’ve ever confused you, don’t worry, I regularly confuse myself.)

It doesn’t help that they range from very exuberant (I don’t use that word near enough; it’s a good word) to quite downcast and heavy. And that’s okay, I guess; life is that way. But it’s just hard to know which to blog, ya know?

Anyway. I just kind of wanted to pop in and say hi, and I’m still alive, and thinking, and stuff’s happening. And sometime maybe it will get on here in words and/or pictures.

Oh, and also–our tickets to Central America have been purchased!! Which is both freaky and really exciting. πŸ˜€ We are leaving in one and half months as of today!

And…pray. Please. Just… do. About everything and anything. But pray in a way that costs you something.

To the Daughters

Last time I wrote to the dads. Now I think it is time to talk to the daughters.

I know that for some of you, reading the last post I wrote was hard. Some of you cried a bit. Maybe more than a bit. And some of you didn’t, but you felt that heart twinge. Some of you have become hard, maybe, and “don’t care anymore”. Some of you, maybe, realized how blessed you are.

To all of you, there are a few things you need to know; especially after reading that last post.

The first thing I’d like to remind you of is that God is your Father if you are in Christ.

β€œI will be a Father to you,
And you shall be My sons and daughters,
Says the Lord Almighty.”

2 Corinthians 6:18

Earthly fathers, no matter how wonderful, won’t be perfect. They won’t know what you need always, they won’t understand youalways, they won’t do the right thing always, they won’t always love you right, they won’t always know what to do, won’t always be able protect you.

Some dad hurt is inevitable. Don’t look at me, or some other girl, and think, if only I had her dad, everything would be great. ’tisn’t true.

But God is the perfect Father. He fills in those places that our earthly fathers don’t–and so much more.

And I get it–sometimes it’s hard to see. Sometimes we just want our dads to be all that. Sometimes it doesn’t seem like God is a good Father. But, ladies, we must not always rely on our feelings. We must trust God. We must ask Him to help us trust. He will, you know.

Remember that God is your Father.

I know it’s tempting, but you cannot blame your own sin on your father’s lack of attention or the pain he has caused. We are each responsible for our own sin before God–he for his, you for yours. For those whose dads have not been there, or have wounded you deeply–you are at a disadvantage, in a way, and it would be pointless to deny it. And yet, those of you who know Christ have a huge advantage, one that can overcome even the worst situations. It still hurts, absolutely, and that pain will probably never totally leave. But in Christ we have the power to be free from and resist sin. And if you have sinned (and who hasn’t?), confess it as yours. Don’t blame him.

Don’t excuse your sin based on your dad’s actions. Remember the power you have in Christ.

Some of you–all of you?–have hurts from your dad. Some of you have horribly deep hurts, ones I really can’t imagine fully. However, blessed as I am, I do understand a small corner of what it is like. I have been hurt as well–often unintentionally, but it is hard nonetheless.

And I have learned that forgiveness is not just words. And it is NOT easy. Some things–small, very small comparatively–have taken hours of prayer and constant choice for months to forgive, and even still there are times when it’s a choice.

But it is a choice you must make; or be destroyed inside.

Do not harbor bitterness.

Realize that God took your father’s sin so seriously that Jesus had to die to pay for it.

It is not your job to make your father pay. Holding on to the wrongs done to you will only hurt you more. You–we–must let go, must let God take care of them. And ask Him to bring healing. He will.

Forgive your father.

This next one may be a little hard to swallow, because we want to be loved how we want to be loved. Some of you may have great dads who do all sorts of things for you and take good care of you, and yet they don’t praise you and speak lovingly to you. And you really, really wish they would. I understand that.

But it is SO important that we recognize their love in whatever form it comes. Don’t wait for it to be perfectly exactly how you want it to be. Because guess what? It may never happen. And even if it did, you may be so bitter by then that you won’t even care. So be on the look out for ways your father loves you, even the tiniest things–and be grateful.

Accept and value your dad’s attempts at loving you.

And, finally, probably the hardest one. Especially for those of you who have been wounded terribly.

Love him anyway.

I know. I know. *sighs* The only way I would dare say such a thing to some of you is because Jesus does it–and if He is in you, it IS possible. And if you allow Him to work it in your heart, you will be blessed and he will be blessed and the world will be, too, even if they don’t know it.

For some of you, the only way you can love him is to pray for him. And that’s okay. But do it. You never can tell what God may do.

For the rest of you–find out what HE likes, the way HE receives love, and do that. Show him you love him and value him and need him.

Love and respect your father anyway.

And… that’s it.

Other than to say–well, there isn’t really anything to say. But my heart hurts for you, and I wish I could hug you and make it all better.

All I can do, though, is point you to your heavenly Father. And… *smiles* that is Something.

I Don’t Believe in God.

Not really, not wholly.

Sure, I’m smart enough to know there has to be a God. I figured that out one day when I realized that you couldn’t keep going back forever; eventually something would have had to start all this, and that Something had to be eternal, and that Eternal Something must be a Someone, and that Eternal Someone had to be God.

But I’m realizing lately that I don’t really believe. Not all the way to my toes. Not all the way down to the bottom of my heart.

I’m not willing to accept that God is God. That His name is I AM. Not I will be, or I might be, or sometimes I am. Just I AM that I AM.

That He is more terrible, more awesome, more dreadful, more just, more wrathful than I could ever imagine.

Or even that He is more merciful, more gracious, more compassionate, or more loving than I could possibly fathom.

I don’t really want an extreme God.

I sort of want a tame god. The saying about Aslan not being a tame lion is cute and all, but are you sure He wasn’t tame? Maybe really He was… maybe His claws weren’t really sharp.

I talk about God a lot. I pray to Him. I read about Him.

But when it’s dark and I am alone with Him, and I think about Him being REAL and WILD and FIERCE and LOVING–I don’t think I really believe it, quite. I think I’m too scared. It makes me uncomfortable.

Because if He’s really real–If He’s really not a tame God–if He really is more power and grace and light than I can ever hope to fully fathom–then I am nothing. Nothing. Just a dirty, crumpled, miniscule bit of humanity.

And it’s really true. He really does exist, He really is wild, and I really am nothing.

And yet He really does LOVE me.

I don’t understand…

It doesn’t make sense. And I don’t really believe it, not fully.

But I’m starting to.

Lord, I believe–please help my unbelief.

One Year Ago…

J127 (19)

… 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.

J127 (353)

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™‚