Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Sisters

Last night, I had dinner with seven of my closest girl friends to celebrate my birthday. Reflecting on the past year - the peaks, the valleys, and the chaos in between - I am certain I would not still be standing without these women walking beside me. All of the moments when I ran out of strength, they were the arms that held me up. They formed the wall I could lean back on when I wanted to lay down and give up. 
I'm privileged to call each one a sister. This is what community is all about. God is so good.
Beyond grateful. 
Brooke was apparently slow getting her ice cream & missed the picture but, rest assured, she was there. 

Ex 17:20 - "When Moses' hands grew tired, they took a stone and put it under him and he sat on it. Aaron and Hur held his hands up-- one on one side, one on the other --so that his hands remained steady till sunset."

Monday, June 25, 2012

Thirty

I'm not sure how it happened, how those years flew by so quickly. Today I turn 30. I have friends who are thirty and beyond and I don't ever think of them as old, but the word takes on a different shape when it's in the context of ME. One of the girls who discipled me in high school was 26. I looked up to her, she was wise and super cool, but I remember thinking she was old. My mom had my brother at age 29 and me at 32. I've always been told that she "got a late start." So when I think of being thirty, it feels a little ancient. Like I should've reached some significant benchmarks by this point. But alas, my reality at 30 appears drastically different than I ever imagined. 

I never would've dreamed that the Lord would say "quit your job and go to school." But I wouldn't trade it for the world. What a crazy ride the last year has been but one of the greatest opportunities to lean in and recognize my absolute dependence on the Father. I can finally see the light at the end of the tunnel (& that tunnel leads to Africa) and I am squirming with excitement. 

I never would've dreamed that the Lord would provide a group of friends that would become my family. I fully believe I have the greatest community in the world. I could sit on my back porch with those people forever, their hearts blow me away. So blessed and very grateful.

I never would've dreamed up the word Africa, let alone the chance to live there. Its far beyond the scope that my small mind could've come up with. What a generous God to give me that story.

I never would've dreamed that this would be part of my world. But what a perfect reminder that my life is not my own and the sweetest freedom comes from surrender. Somehow it will be used for His glory. 

It's easy to focus on the fact that my Plan A hasn't panned out but when I really step back and think about it, I'm so thankful it didn't. Because the truth is that He is God and I am not and my dreams are far too small and boxed in. He dreams beyond what my finite mind can conjure up and His dreams are always the better option. Why would I choose an amateur story teller when I have the greatest author in history offering me His version?
Fingers crossed for 60 more crazy, unpredictable, glorious years.

Eph 3:20 - Now to Him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to His power that is at work within us, to Him be glory in the church and in 
                                           Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever.                                                                                                                     

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Africa

      Today I found out that I officially have a spot in Zimba, Zambia next summer. I applied for the medical mission rotation a while back & today it became a reality. I've dreamed for the last two years of going back & at times its been the sole source of motivation to get me through school. To keep the promises I made. 
I can so easily close my eyes and be taken back to Uganda, the sights, the sounds, the emotion. Knowing I'm going back, my heart wants to explode with excitement and anticipation. And while there is a whisper of fear that wants me to stay stateside in a clinic treating ear infections & handing out Z-paks, engraved on my heart, planted in the depth of my soul are these eyes...

 
These sweet babies that pierce through me and move me to action. I've yet to see anything like them. Two years later, I can still hear their little voices singing and their infectious laughter filling those tiny churches. But most vividly, I can't forget those eyes.



The fears I have for Zambia stem from the unknown, as most fears do. A lack of control, a surrender of expectations. There is no way to prepare for an experience like this. No classes to take, no seminars to attend. Completely unknown & out of my hands. 
At the same time, the unknown is exhilarating. Freedom of expectations, freedom that I'm not the author. The opportunity to see things that I will never see in the States. The opportunity for out of the box experiences. 
But most importantly, the opportunity for my soul to know exactly what it was created for. 
2 Tim 1:4 - "As I remember your tears, I long to see you, that I may be filled with joy."

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Tetelestai


Tetelestai... the Greek word that will be permanently engraved on my right wrist this week. Whoever said tattoos are addictive was not lying. But its more than just a word. Its more than just some Greek symbols. "Tetelestai" translates to "It is finished."

The word is used twice in the New Testament. First in John 19:28... "when Jesus knew that all things were now completed, in order that the scripture might be fulfilled, he said, 'I thirst.'" In verse 30, Christ utters the word himself: "Then when he received the sour wine Jesus said, 'It is finished,' and he bowed his head and gave up his spirit." The scripture was fulfilled. Jesus lived with purpose and the Father's plans were accomplished. Take heart, He has overcome the world!


Anyone who knows me will attest that I am a "Martha" with every ounce of my being. I can't sit still. I am rarely quiet. My nature is anxious and I want to control the outcome of every circumstance... hence the ink on my left wrist, "be still my soul." It's a continual reminder to rest in His faithfulness. He is God, I am not. 

Tetelestai was also written on business documents or receipts in New Testament times to indicate that a bill had been paid in full. Romans 5:8... "but God shows His love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us." Overwhelming grace. I have a monumental debt and nothing to offer as payment and yet the debt has been paid in full... tetelestai. Freedom, no longer a slave to the law. Sin has lost its power, death has lost its sting. 



Be still my soul, the Lord is on thy side; 
Bear patiently the cross of grief or pain;
Leave to thy God to order and provide;
In every change, He faithful will remain. 
Be still my soul; thy best, thy Heavenly friend. 
Through thorny ways, leads to a joyful end. 

Most often, the reason I struggle to be still is because I believe the lie that I need to work for my righteousness but tetelestai refutes that concept. The work has been done. Ephesians 2 says it best: "For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast." The ultimate gift of God, rescue from despair. 


The battle is won. It is finished. Tetelestai.

Til on that cross as Jesus died
The wrath of God was satisfied
For every sin on Him was laid
Here in the death of Christ I live

And as He stands in victory
Sin's curse has lost its grip on me
For I am His and He is mine
Bought with the precious blood of Christ 

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

It's Ugly

It's been one of those weeks where I would really like a do over. Somewhere along the way the train derailed and downward spiraled. The mirror was held in front of my face and I had a hard time making eye contact with my reflection. It was ugly. The darkness of my heart that was revealed makes my skin crawl. I'm embarrassed and disappointed and wishing that I was able to love better.

How many times will I be reminded of the power of my words? I'm certain I've seen this lesson before. And yet here I am again, repeating the same prayer, "Take control of what I say, O Lord, & guard my lips" Ps 141:3. When will I learn? I'm a broken soul and a messy spirit and am really incapable of selfless love on my own. How much grace has been offered to me? Why is it so difficult for me to offer grace? Why do I speak without wisdom or consideration? Use words that build rather than tear down. 

I want to live fearlessly. I want to love recklessly. I want to serve selflessly. I want to know Him deeply.

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Full



Tonight, as I'm about to go to sleep, I am full. Physically nourished from chicken, quinoa, salad & let's be honest, Corona. Spiritually overflowing from good conversations about life, relationships, Africa, purpose. Tonight, people that I love dearly, my family in this city, sat on my back porch and ate together, laughed together, and rejoiced together. That is life. My heart wanted to explode it was so full. I am blessed.  

Friends, some old, some new, trading stories and crying with laughter. I tend to see with eyes that see the lack... what I may be missing, comparing to others, but tonight I saw abundance. A life of goodness that I do not deserve. Community so precious that I never want it to change. Marriages, relationships, introductions all seen tonight. Different stages, each in the exact spot where we're supposed to be. Thankful, so overwhelmed with gratitude for the hearts around me.