Sunday, June 14, 2015

facing rapids without a paddle.

last weekend i went "white water rafting" without paddles. i hopped in a 2-person tube, got pushed off a dam-overflow, twisted, turned and screamed my way down the river, and laughed with all that was inside of me. though completely ridiculous [and so fitting of this country i endearingly call home], i realized it was a perfect illustration of life here in east asia. i love control and always want to step into circumstances i have the upper-hand in. yet over here, my life couldn't be more opposite of that desire. here i am in a place i know nothing about, and i have literally zero control over my life. YET, i'm delighted and full of JOY and couldn't imagine a better place to be. 

as i have 10 days left in this precious country i have come to love, i'm beginning to reflect on my time here, all the Lord has taught me, and the ways i've seen Him work. there have certainly been some BIG rapids to face: a seemingly impossible language, people who have never heard the glorious truth, responsibilities way beyond my capacity, moving towns and in the process embracing totally new relationships, and so many more. and most of those rapids are things i would've never chosen on my own and couldn't have imagined making it through alive. but here in those rapids, i have found so much more of JESUS! as He calls me to surrender my control--to come forward without a paddle--He meets me there and shows me His goodness.

"i would have despaired if i had not believed that i would look upon the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living" psalm 27:13.

the land of the living? the Lord's goodness? are these the things i'm daily believing in and looking for? are they what my faith is hung on? while living in a place of utter darkness, i can relate to that despair...but lately, our sweet Father has been reminding me that it doesn't stop there: there is so much HOPE to cling to because His goodness is so present. HE is my hope, and HE is here--He is EMMANUEL, God with me. 

He teaches me that i can live in expectation--that He WILL show up. He also promises that this side of heaven, circumstances and relationships will surely lead to despair, but we can have total confidence in His goodness--we can totally surrender and abide in it. this faith in HIS goodness keeps me hoping, praying, and keeps me on my knees. 

my new favorite author, sara hagerty, wrote words that have gripped my heart all semester. in the midst of the rapids and craziness of daily life, these words remind me that He wants us on our knees, He wants us at His feet. she writes, "the MAKER of the world multiplies His work on the earth through us, as we WASTE our lives at His feet! the greatest 'waste'--sitting at His feet for unconventional amounts of time--is the ONE THING He says is needed."

so as i begin to think through transitioning back to america [a place that right now seems kinda scary], i'm choosing to be expectant of His goodness and ever-longing for His house! i'm praying i will find my rest at His feet. i'm asking that even though i'm walking into a place that usually offers me "paddles" of control, that i would instead remain surrendered and dependent. Jesus, keep me ever-looking for your GOODNESS here in a land where you're constantly bringing NEW LIFE!

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

my "one word"

about a year ago during our couple-day christmas holiday, i became obsessed with the "blogosphere"! everywhere i was reading i seemed to find women writing about their "one word". i soon discovered this "one word" concept is praying over and choosing a word for your year. i loved this idea. a word i could look to when i wasn't sure what the lord was doing. a word i could cling to as a promise. so i began to pray, and i feel like He gave me my "one word"...


He wanted me to live expectantly. He wanted me to look to Him for what was unfolding. He wanted me to believe with HOPE the promises He sets before me. and boy was it a year full of living open-handed and expectantly awaiting His goodness.

about half way through the year, i heard Him speak another word over my life. at this point i kinda felt my life was falling apart (no drama here, don't worry ;) ). but in the midst of my despair, He faithfully whispered another word:


so my "one word" turned into two words, but these two words have defined my year. as i shakily take steps of faith, i'm reminded i can live expectantly...and then as i stride forward, He has showered abundance. although two words, i've found they're kind of linked together. as i live with an expectant heart, He shows me His abundance in the most unexpected places!

expectant & abundance.

words spoken over me with purpose. words that point me to Him. words that take me out of myself. words of HOPE. words that transform my perspective. words that portray faithfulness. words that beckon onward. words that draw me deeper. words that lead to intimacy. words from Him, for me. this two-word pattern has manifested itself in countless ways over the past year, but here are just a few:

  • being uprooted from my asian "home"...for His plans are far better
  • finding my new asian "home" has richer abundance than i could've ever asked or imagine
  • the gift of specific relationships this year
  • seeing new LIFE come in a place of darkness
  • the depths of knowing God's heart
  • beginning to see purposes of suffering
  • discovering glorious certainties
as i walk into 2015, i've asked Jesus for a new word. i believe i hear Him speaking the word ENTRUST over this new year. i am praying that i will indeed entrust myself more fully to Him: surrendering all my unknowns to His perfect hand. who knows, He might add another word somewhere along the way, but for now my prayer is to ENTRUST!

Saturday, December 20, 2014

faithful whispers.

in the midst of a place where there are no external reminders that Christmas is 4 days away, He is faithfully whispering reminders of what advent is all about: he has come and he will come. this phrase has been the mantra whispered to me each day of december. his soft voice beckons, and his words draw me close. the savior born in filth; the savior that brings life; the savior born that man no more may die. indeed, he has come. yet, many days the darkness seems obtrusive; the number of unbelievers overwhelming; the messiness of life unbearable. he reminds me: he will come. in a place that seems to have forgotten Christmas, i have the JOY of knowing this SECRET: he has come and he will come. more than ever before my heart feels so steadied in the true purpose of Christmas. as life marches by like just another day this thursday, i have untold anticipation of the redemption story that changes everything! i’m thankful for a month that has brought me to a place of adoration.

i can worship the King who left His throne for us alongside local brothers and sisters, he has come.

when i pass countless faces and wonder if they will ever know Him, he reminds me: he will come.

as i sit down with girls and see their faces come alive to His truth, i hear the whispers: he has come.

as i mourn over another christmas spent away and long for a forever “home", i know: he will come.

as we bake cookies and cakes and try to bring the holidays to east asia, we celebrate: he has come.

when i explain the origin of exchanging gifts and how we have already been given the greatest gift, he whispers: he will come.

as you celebrate the holidays, i pray for sweet reminders each day: HE HAS COME AND HE WILL COME! 

Sunday, October 5, 2014

the shape of grace.

"The goodness and mercy of God isn’t just following after me placidly. The goodness and mercy of God pursues after me passionately. And God’s blessings don’t pursue temporarily — but relentlessly. Whatever is chasing you — no matter what it looks like — it’s grace. And grace isn’t what makes us feel good: grace is all that makes us more like Jesus. Because the real truth is: God wants to bless more than we want to be blessed. So why run from whatever God is giving? It’s only got to be for my ultimate good and His ultimate glory. And nothing can overwhelm me — like grace can overtake me." Anne Voskamp.

psalm 23:6 proclaims, "surely the goodness and mercy of God shall follow me all the days of my life, and i will dwell in the house of the Lord forever." i read this blog [based on that verse] about a week ago, and boy has it been convicting me, challenging me, and compelling me to the cross. this season of transition has been one of difficulty, tears, perceived loneliness, and questioning for me. it has been messy...and i don't tend to do messy well. but i'm beginning to learn that in the midst of messy is where HE tends to show up. 

as i've been trying to run from so much that God has given in this season, i've been missing the GLORY that He's bringing and the shape His grace is forming to me today. in my head i could come up with a million scenarios that would "be better" than what my reality is right now (if only so and so were still here, if my national friends/sisters were still around, if i could just eat something familiar, if i didn't have to pretend i know enough language to get 10 people through medical exams and passport exchanges, etc etc etc)...but in my wishing away what is, i was totally missing the rich PORTION that the Lord has for in this season. i was denying that His grace could come in the shape of difficult circumstance. i was fleeing the notion that life should be anything but comfortable. i was longing for my own definition of "good" rather than pressing into what His might look like. 

the whole aim of this Christian life is to know more of Jesus and that our lives might be molded to look more like His. so WHY DO I RUN? why do i ask for sanctification but feel surprised when it comes? because if grace makes us more like Jesus, that means it strips away more of my sinful flesh--so that's gotta be painful and difficult. as i see Jesus' grace anew in fresh ways here in this corner of the world, i'm asking for RENEWAL. i'm asking that the Lord would daily SLAY that which is of my flesh and GIVE LIFE to that which is of Himself. because He promises when our minds are renewed, transformation comes. but i know in the asking, i'm stepping further into the uncomfortable. conforming to the world comes far too easily to me...i want to be expectant and looking for ways this transformation can make me look more like Jesus. goodness though, i know it'll be messy...

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

living in east asia is...

people often ask me what my life over here in this corner of the world is like. i give a jumbled number of answers depending on the day, but lately i've kept record of a few snapshots that seem to characterize it well. sooo living in east asia is:

  • a "10 minute taxi ride across town" taking 2 hours.
  • having to go to multiple branches of the same phone store to get service...and it totaling 6 hours.
  • being a child with my language ability everyday.
  • men hanging out of your window on a string to fix the A/C.
  • knowing God more because dependence is mandatory as all comforts and distractions are stripped away.
  • asking for roast duck and then being told you just ordered a male prostitute because you missed the tones...
  • waking up @ 4 AM for auburn football games...with your 15 new best friends.
  • enduring a "physical exam" consisting of blood samples, urine tests, EKG, ultrasound, x-rays, eye exam, and a check-up...all for only $70.
  • taking 2 non-negotiable hours of tai chi each week.
  • grasping more of this "joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory" because it's a place that is so hungry for it.
  • waking up to 8-20 texts each day because "america is awake".
  • knowing how to bargain for prices on everything from a slab of meat to your cell phone bill.
  • 1 sunny day in the entire month.
  • riding in the 4x4 foot elevator box with two asian men chiefing cigs on either side of you. (fire hazard?!)
  • navigating cafeteria lines for lunch everyday and trying to decipher what the food might be.
  • seeing LIFE come to a place of utter darkness.
  • FaceTime dates for dayzzz with my family and friends.
  • paying your gas bill with the help of a random asian driver because the shower surprisingly turns to ice halfway through.
  • buying vegetables with blood spattering from the butcher chopping a black chicken on the next table over.
  • playing "frogger" every time i cross the road.
  • glimpsing JESUS more each day as i live as an "elect exile".

Sunday, August 17, 2014

summer marathon.

my "summer break" included a 5 week tour of america. i got to see so many precious friends, a good percentage of my wonderful family, and a few of my favorite places along the way. i drove a couple thousand miles, took my 34th flight of the year, and zipped along behind the boat a few times. as i expressed at the beginning of the month, I prayed this summer would fill my cup and boy did it. i don't know quite how "restful" it was but it was full in all the best ways! so i've finished my marathon of a summer and am getting ready to head back into the orient. before i depart i thought i'd share a few snapshots to give you a tour of my american adventures:

my favorite place. 
4th of July: celebrating all things AMERICA.

they sure don't have sunsets like this in asia.

pure barre+paddle board. 
in minneapolis for my cousins wedding. 
the cutest grandparents you ever did see. 
favorite place with some of my favorite people. 
3 generations. my precious awee! 
AUBURN with more of my favorites. 
goodness can't quite imagine life without y'all next door yet. 
he put a ring on it!!! got to see my newly engaged bestie. 
even a little nashville date. 
family reunion for alice+jeff's wedding! 
the sweetest roomie came to send me back with love! 
tearful airport goodbyes. 
so i might've visited chickfila everyday this summer...

as i return to a new "home", i'm boldly praying this scripture for myself and all my friends traveling with me:

"to this end we always pray for you, that our God may make you worthy of his calling and may fulfill every resolve for good and every work of faith by his power." 2 thessalonians 1:11

and now we're off to the ORIENT...

Monday, July 14, 2014

exponential multiplication.

whew, i've been "home" in america for exactly 2 weeks and what a whirlwind it's been! i've gotten to spend time with my sweet family and dear friends and have been soaking up all things "normal". i'm trying to see this as a month to FILL MY CUP before i head back to a place that often requires pouring out--usually way more than i even think i have to pour! 

lately, one song seems to be the soundtrack of my life: "not for a moment" by meredith andrews. a friend shared this song with me a couple months ago, and a day has not gone by since that i haven't listened to it. it does a good job of reminding me where the true fulfillment of my cup must come from. since being home i've been asked a few times "so wait, you're actually still going back?" (i guess my last blog post of life in shambles left some unanswered questions). and indeed, yes, i am going back. because even though this season has been one of confusion, of turmoil, of (can i even say it) suffering...through it all i have clearly known the Lord's presence. the bridge of this song proclaims:

"every step, every breath you are there. every tear, every cry, every prayer. in my hurt, at my worst, when my world falls down--not for a moment will you forsake me. even in the dark, even when it's hard, you will never leave me. after all, you are constant. after all, you are only good. after all, you are sovereign. not for a moment, will you forsake me".

in the past couple months, i was sure my whole world had fallen apart. but now, looking back, i can see evidences of God stripping me of my tendency to look elsewhere for dependence; i see Him making all new ways: paths in the wilderness and streams in the dessert (isaiah 43:18-19); i see my stable foundation that doesn't waver, yet i see Him reworking what i considered to be the "good" on top of that. and the CONSTANT in all of that: i see HIM. not for a moment does He forsake us. not for a moment do i have to doubt. through every tear, every cry, and every prayer He has been with me and as i step forward into the much unknown of the future, He'll be with me still! 

last week i had a very "filling" day. as friends gathered to hear stories of my year and the ways i've gotten to see the Lord work, i too could marvel of His intricately great ways! before leaving they prayed over me for what is ahead. two different friends prayed and spoke the words of "exponential multiplication" over me. there are so many aspects of my life that i long to see the Lord grow: relationships, communication, faith, trust, surrender, and so much more. so as i enjoy this season of "filling", i am fervently praying that this would be a year that would multiply exponentially for the sake of the Kingdom. i would love for you to join me in this prayer! because after all, He is only good!