Saturday, January 9, 2010


Oh the irony of life—it can make you laugh, cry, and sometimes do both at the same time.
New Years Resolution #5: See snow.
On my way to Urbana 09 I did just that. For as it so happens the very day I was scheduled to arrive in St. Louis the Midwest was being smothered in snow as one of the largest winter storms to sweep through the area in the year unleashed its arduous furry in the shape of big, white snowflakes.
After a grueling 15 hour drive, I stepped out of my car into crunchy, fresh snow. Feeling no need to preserve any level of pride or dignity, I played as a child in the snow trodden parking lot of my hotel. In this moment, a year’s worth of all of my suppressed memories, struggles, and ambitions rushed to mind resulting in a flood of overwhelming emotions that presented themselves in the forms of irrepressible laughter. Ironic--somewhat, yet the humor of my Savior never ceases to amaze me. It’s one of those times where you can’t help but laugh…
The entire year I had spent praying for this very moment, and I’m not just talking about the snow. I knew that I was supposed to be here, in the middle of this parking lot, in the middle of this blizzard, in the middle of the United States. There is no greater feeling than knowing what it means to be living in God’s will for your life. It’s the most intoxicating joy. I was ready and hoping God would reveal where He needed me to go next… Where He could use me for His greatest benefit. Ready and willing, I embraced the gift of snow and the perfect love of my Lord.
The first day of Urbana, as I walked into the first seminar, a 1 in 1700 chance possibility happened. I walked into the same room as John. Like a swift kick to the heart, that ever-present familiar feeling swept over me. After a hug, and some brief conversation (of which I can’t even remember), I found myself listening to a seminar on tending to the brokenness of the African continent as Medical missionaries, while trying to tend to the brokenness of my heart. 1700 people attended Urbana, and I run into my ex on the first day…yes the irony of life. Sometimes it can make you cry…
Yet I felt it was nothing a bit of prayer and Starbucks couldn’t temporarily mend, and so after I had nursed myself to a somewhat normal state, I proceeded to my next seminar—Biblical Basis for Medical Missions by Dr. Dan Fountain. After a two hour lecture on his ministry in the Congo and the scriptural commands for health care providers, he ended his session with saying that all of this means nothing unless you go where there is a need, where God needs you to be. Where is there a need you may ask (I thought the same to myself)? Well, don’t worry; he had a list, but to top them off was Sierra Leone. They urgently need people with experience in Neonatal Care. (I’ve worked in the NICU of one of the top ten Hospitals for the past year—God definitely had my attention) He continued, there is just one issue…you have to take a boat, and most people don’t like to take the boat for whatever reasons being onboard a ship for ten months doesn’t appeal to them or even seem like a possibility. At this moment, I felt like my whole life (all 21 years so far J) had been preparation for this. Growing up on the inlet, my other love besides medicine was the water. As anyone knows, I was practically born for the sea, and now it seems that even this aspect of my life could, and was going to be, used for God’s greater purpose. It’s one of those ironic moments where God reveals to you a glimpse of the big beautiful pictures He sees everyday. This was it. I laughed and cried and then laughed some more as I wiped the tears from my cheeks and uttered a short prayer of thanks for as crazy and out of control as life may seem, God has me in His Hands and there is no other place I would rather be…

Saturday, November 14, 2009

God Is My Victory and He Is Here

Exodus 17:8-14 (New International Version)
The Amalekites Defeated
8 The Amalekites came and attacked the Israelites at Rephidim. 9 Moses said to Joshua, "Choose some of our men and go out to fight the Amalekites. Tomorrow I will stand on top of the hill with the staff of God in my hands."
10 So Joshua fought the Amalekites as Moses had ordered, and Moses, Aaron and Hur went to the top of the hill. 11 As long as Moses held up his hands, the Israelites were winning, but whenever he lowered his hands, the Amalekites were winning. 12 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. 13 So Joshua overcame the Amalekite army with the sword.
14 Then the LORD said to Moses, "Write this on a scroll as something to be remembered and make sure that Joshua hears it"

"Your my Hand-Holder-Upper"

It was probably about two in the morning, and as I looked down at the speedometer I noticed John was only going 40 in a 55... I thought to myself, "Maybe he cares and is trying to make the drive as long as possible so we can talk, or maybe he is just a really cautious driver"... I later found out both were true, but not after the most encouraging talk I have ever had after leaving a bar...
For some time God had been burdening my heart with missions, and I finally thought I was ready, unfortunately no one else did...(something about a lack of curling irons and hair dryers, I dont know) Thankfully, John was wiling to listen and very suportive. At the time, I didnt know much about the boy honestly, but I did know that he loved Jesus and had taken risks to live for Him. So I asked him flat out, "How did you know? How did you know to go with that? Did people think you were crazy, what if they thought you couldn't do it?" He proceeded to slowly answer every one of my anticipated questions, explaining his testimony and how he had made his decision to join Intervarsity. Amazed, encouraged, and extremely tired I left that night with a mission: to makes my desires for missions come to fruition--God willing.

As new years rolled around, my burdens were ever pressing and my affection for John was ever growing...So in a bar on New Years I made these resolutions:
1. Find my place in missions
2. Kiss John
3. Loose ten pounds
4. Get a boob job
5. See snow

Its now November 15, and there are 46 days left to fulfill my New Year's Resolutions. I am sure you are probably wondering where I am at, so here's my little progress report:
1. Well get back to that in a second.
2. Six days later, He kissed me. (He sent me a text later that night saying that, "he had just kissed the prettiest girl in Murrells Inlet, and that made him kind of a big deal" Haha what a scrub. )
3. Lost ten pounds and then gained 8
4. Decided my own boobs were just fine (Thanks God)
5. No snow yet, but I have 46 days still...keep your fingers crossed for me.

So about resolution #1...I tried all year to find a mission trip that would fit my schedule, that would work around my other goals, and my plans...Until about half way through the year I stopped praying for it to happen on my time, but on God's. I know it would be really cool to say, and the next day it did! But (sorry to dissapoint) it didnt. So I went on praying and hoping and searching. Looking back the road was bumpy, and at times I felt like I was going through one hell of a desert...Thankfully though, resolution #2 was there to help me out. John and I always shared and talked bout our faith, and our struggles. He was there for me at times when I felt like God wasnt, when I was frustrated, and when I needed direction...He was there to remind me God will ALWAYS be here for me, that its ok to be frustrated but to trust God through the process, and that direction is something only God can give on His time--So even though I feel like I am treading through a miserable desert, God sees the big picture and He is here guiding my everystep through the process, His process.

One day while doing my devotion I read the above verse, and thought about how cool it was Moses got help from his very own Hand-Holder-Upper. I mean here he is trying to lead all the stubborn Isrealites through the desert, into battle, and to the promise land...Talk about a process. I think it took him something like 40 years. Gives new meaning to the phrase "God Speed" huh? Ha, anyway I dove a little deeper and thought more about Moses. He's a man of God, talked with Him on many occasions, got that whole ten commandment thing going for him, and here he is still needing help...In that eye-opening moment it was like God was reassuring me in my own faith and my own process (GOD SPEED!). Sometimes we need just a little more
help--we need a Hand-Holder-Upper. In that moment I had a new found perspective on my relationship with John...He was my person, my person that comes and supports, encourages, and gives that little bit of help just when we need it. John was my Hand-Holder-Upper. A couple weeks later John and I were sitting on my couch talking like we always did, and I thanked him for being my Hand-Holder Upper. He said it was one of the nicest things anyone had ever said to him. I knew he meant it--he was honest and his heart loved Jesus just as much as mine. We were seeking Him, and supporting each other along the way. A couple of months later we broke up.

I lost my Hand-Holder-Upper. Now, missing him, I find myself having another tear filled, yet eye-opening, moment over the same passage...Notice how it says, "so that his hands remained steady till sunset". Did you catch it? Moses needed help for just a season, not forever. It doesnt say that Aaron and Hur held up his hands forever, but just in his moment of weakness. In one of John's last emails to me he ended with, "so I guess this is me letting go of your hands so that you can take hold of Jesus"

What did I learn from this?
Truths 1-3:
1.Well, God provides. (can I get an AMEN?!) Moses, just a normal, Christ-Following guy, needed a little extra help and God provided him with Hand-Holder-Uppers.
2. With Hand-Holder-Uppers one can accomplish BIG things for the Lord. "As long as Moses held up his hands, the Israelites were winning, but whenever he lowered his hands, the Amalekites were winning." So God provides Moses with a way of keeping his hands up, and the Isrealites win.
3. Hand-Holder-Uppers are there for when we need them. Not forever, just however long God wants them to help us. When He knows we are trying, but just need a little more support, He will give us someone to take our hand and help us along.

I find the next verse to be of utmost importance. What is it that God tells Moses to do after winning the battle, (in my words) "Ok Moses, get off the rock--your strong enough, shake out those hands, and get to writing... He knew, He knew that one day Moses would need a reminder, and that one day I would need a reminder. Truths 1-3: Yea, dont forget them...better write them down. So like Moses, I'm shaking out my hands and writing it down...God provides, I can do great things for Him through Him, and I dont always need a Hand-Holder-Upper, but I can still be thankful for the times we He gives me one.

Ironicly, the same ministry John told me about that November night is having a HUGE missions gathering called Urbana that only happens every three years, and its happening this year. Just to make things a little more crazy, the last day of the conference is December 31. Yea, I waited for God's timing, and He managed to get in it there just at the last minute. Faith and Patience...spend a year praying for them and He will give you opportunity after opportunity to practice them. I prayed. I felt the burden and I had the desire. So I said God make it happen, and He gave me a Hand-Holder-Upper as I struggled with my weakness of impatience and my worry that He wasnt going to make it happen. Then, when I was strong enough, I found my hands were free and ready to be put to use. Since then, the Missions Director at my church happened (and by happened, I mean God) to hear about Urbana the same day I presented her with the idea of the church sponsoring me for the trip. How did she hear about it? Through Cody Watson, a missionary my church supports who got his start and heard his calling at Urbana. Yes, I know. God is Good.

p.s. Still praying for snow...

Desert Song by Hillsong United:
This is my prayer in the desert
And all that's within me feels dry
This is my prayer in the hunger in me
My God is a God who provides
And this is my prayer in the fire
In weakness or trial or pain
There is a faith proved
Of more worth than gold
So refine me Lord through the flames
And I will bring praise
I will bring praise
No weapon forged against me shall remain
I will rejoiceI will declare
God is my victory and He is here
And this is my prayer in the battle
And triumph is still on it's way
I am a conqueror and co-heir with Christ
So firm on His promise I'll stand
All of my lifeIn every season
You are still God
I have a reason to sing
I have a reason to worship
This is my prayer in the harvest
When favor and providence flow
I know I'm filled to be empited again
The seed I've recieved I will sow

Saturday, October 24, 2009

What God showed me over a Panera Salad...

Its a beautiful saturday afternoon, and on any other fall saturday I would be watching a Clemson football game, but not today...I dont need any more reminders of life's dissapointments.
Today has been bad, and by bad, I'm not talking about just any typical bad day, but one of those "pass me the chocolate, make a couple purchases, and cry till your mascaras all gone" kind of bad days. Yea. One of those...So after a brief shopping spree, I find myself shuffling around the lettus of my Panera salad and wondering why they offer a 200 calorie salad with a 1000 calorie bread option as a thought process is suddenly interrupted by the couple that has now made their way to the outside dining area of Panera's patio, clammering and discussing their purchases and weekend plans. Now well aware of how pathetic I probably look by dining alone, and at the risk of seeming even more lame, I shuffled through my bags and found the book I had purchased earlier: What's A Girl To Do? by Janet Folger. Ok, Now I know this is the point where you are probably going to be tempted to stop reading, but wait, I promise its not at corny as the title would lead one to believe. Honestly, the book was an impulse purchase. (Imagine that? Me making an impulse purchase...) Anway, this proved to be one of the best impulse purchases I've ever made. After reading through just the first five pages, I had completly lost all interest in my salad and was failing miserably in my attept to catch the tears that were now streaming down my cheeks. Embarrassing...I know. All attempts to preserve my dignity were now futile, and so ignoring my pride and the chatty couple, I embraced the moment and let the author's insightful words lead me to discover what God was trying to teach me:
I'm engaged in a full on battle, and its love and war, and as we all know--in this battle everything goes and none of it seems fair. Even more disturbing, this battle of love and war, it's not with just any person, and it's not just over any situation. Its between me and Satan, and its a raging battle over my joy, and the peace and love God is desperately trying to give me. *Ephesians 6:12 For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms*
We're always at war, but in this moment, after this life dissapointment, I feel like a walking target in the middle of a barren field with no protection or means of refuting the one who comes to conquer me. I've been praying with the greatest urgency for God to not test me, to take me from this pain, and to swoop down and kick Satan's butt. I can't do this alone. Its now, in this moment of absolute brokeness that I realize something I thought I always knew--God's not asking me to do this alone. He's here for me, He's on my side. *Hebrews 13:5 Never will I leave you, Never will I forsake you* Im not fighting this battle alone, and God's heart is breaking along with mine. But if this is what it takes, if this is (and there really is no "ifs", I am sure of it) a means by which I can grow closer to God and learn to fully rely on him, then He's not going to "save" me from situation. Instead, He's going to walk through this valley with me, every step of the way. This valley, this spiritual warfare I am enduring, its nothing more than Satan trying to use my moments of weakness to fill all of those crazy girl thoughts that are continually occupying my consciousness with the lies he wants me to believe. Lies, convincing as they may be, that I know God would never want for me. Im not saying that God's always going to make everything better, and make every situation ideal. Infact, He cautions us that as followers of Christ, it might just very well be the opposite, but (and this is a BIG and important but) He promises us that He will be with us through it all, giving us a peace that only he can give. *Phillipians 4:7 And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.* Satan is trying to steal my joy, and admittingly he was doing a pretty good job. Thankfully, I serve, love, and am desperate for a God who has already won every battle I will ever have to face and He can provided me with the means to not only endure and perservere, but to also live life the way He fully intended for me to.
*Ephesians 6:10-20 Finally be strong in the Lord (its not by our own strength but by His) and in His mighty power. Put on the full armor of God (not just some of it, but put on the FULL armor. We are going to need it!) so that you can take your stand (the devil is targeting us personally and we are called to take a stand against him. Through this struggle God is refining us to be who He wants us to be in Him.) against the devil's schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore put on the full armor (here it is again, must be important. We NEED the FULL armor.) of God, so that when the day of evil comes (God know's its coming, he preparing us.) you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to Italicstand (Lord knows, its not going to be easy. Its going to take everything we have in Him. In our weakness He is strong, but how? Well He tells us...) Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes with the gospel of peace (ooh how I want this). In addition to all of this, take up the shield of faith, (Have faith and know that God is with you!) with which you can extinquish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salation and the sword of Spirit, which is the word of God (which is why it is soo important to spend time in God's word). And pray in the Spirit on all occassions with all kinds of prayers and requests (Even if it seems silly-cough cough school work... When you love someone, what matters to them matters to you. In the same way, God loves us in a way we can never understand and he cares for what we care for and when He hurts when we do). With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the saints. (Lift up your brothers and sisters in Christ, chances are they are struggling to, and like you, they too need all the prayer they can get.)
Now with this, I'm not saying there is a instant fix. Instead, I'm saying its more of a process. Oh, the things the Lord has shown me about this and oh, how He has used people in my life to solidify this truth. Its a process of living in Christ and using the strengths he has given us. Its also a process of embracing our weaknesses and seeing them as blessings, because it is through our weakness that God is able to reveal Himself and His strenth to us, which is the true blessing. Blessings, they come in many different shapes and the shape of airheads and post-it-note hearts, in the size of hugs and kisses that make everything better, and in the pain that comes from the absense of those things, which can cause us to relinquish all control and take hold of Jesus.

Out of My Hands ~Matthew West
Not Shaken ~Phil Stacey
Hold My Heart ~Tenth Avenue North