Dinner with Prati

Prati walked up to the porch looking like a queen – her golden sari shining. I never imagined I would see her in the USA – let alone in my childhood home!

She hugged each one of us and remembered details about our lives. Oh, how could she? As the wife of the president of a large ministry in India, they have teams from the US over there all the time, but she remembered. 

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There are some people that you connect with, but then there are those that change your life. (I know, I can be pretty overdramatic, but this is true!*) She is one of them. Prati is married to Sam Stephens, president of a flourishing ministry in India that works in rural villages. They reach some people who have literally never heard about God before or never heard the name Jesus. And then they get to see God transform their lives, person by person, ignited with new life. And Prati is God’s vessel for ignition. She heads up “Women With a Mission,” a ministry that serves women in India by giving them the ability to spread the Gospel through training and discipleship. This is TOTALLY revolutionary – women in rural Indian villages most of the time have no purpose.

Prati’s mission is to preach the reality of the new life in Christ. Her ministry is with women who have been told they are nothing their whole lives. They are viewed as objects or inconveniences to those around them, they have no confidence. So, Prati LOVES telling them about their new life in Christ. When they ask God to come into their lives and take away their sin, everything changes. They can put off completely their old identity of nothing and take on this new identity of being everything. She says, “These women need to know that they mean everything to Jesus.” 

This is profound to me. In the USA, whether we try to or not, we’re all about works and success. Even those who have a relationship with God for years can get crushed when we look around and see we don’t have any ministry or that we aren’t highly esteemed by our peers. That’s what we want: recognition, pride, confidence – in what we’ve accomplished. 

So, I think what Prati says to those women in India is very humbling to a woman in the US to hear – instead of trying and striving and shame in failure, the only thing that should have that much impact on my life is Christ in me. The only thing that matters is how He views me. It doesn’t matter what I think of myself, or how I view my weaknesses, I should celebrate Christ in me. He’s the only thing about me that matters… He makes me EVERYTHING to God, and that changes EVERYTHING. 

This is what I want to preach to those around me, too. So many are broken, defeated and left with no hope. I’m seeing it younger & younger as I get to work with high schoolers – they feel they are nothing since they are treated as such and they look for significance from anything. It causes much more hurt when they do this. (When I do it, too!) I don’t think I do this enough: preach new identity in Christ. I want to! Just having this reminder has pushed me to pursue God on another level – it connects the gap between us because there is no gap! He is in me! I want to pursue who is my heavenly Father and what he wants to do through me! It’s Ephesians 1:1-14 – all of those blessings, all of those truths about Christ and what he’s given to us. It is a powerful fact that changes entire lives. 

—> The time with her was warm and honest. Were we back in India, again? We ate, laughed, caught up a little and then she told us about how the Lord is moving in India. She spoke of four new regions of India that God has allowed India Gospel League – and specifically her ministry, Women With A Mission – to enter to spread the Gospel of Jesus. She spoke of amazing things such as women never knowing that they could have a purposeful relationship with the Lord, never knowing of their significance to Him, and women’s prayers answered left and right. She spoke of God giving her the ability to preach in a language she only studied in school 40 years ago! 

Someone should write a book about this lady. This was the second time I have met her, but the more I learn about her walk with the Lord, the more profound my view of Him becomes. She is so faithful to God because she has a very deep, emotional, close relationship with Him. She is human – she has been through many struggles! She has encountered many sins! But she always seems to go to God first. She’s been through much hurt, too. The way she speaks to the heart of the insecure makes so much sense. She’s seen her lot of hardships. But she also knows how diligent the Lord is to come through on his promises. 

—> She shared with us what she has been learning about prayer. She is always learning something as she walks with God! She realized that every time she prayed, it’s as if she swiped her credit card – “God, I need this. Please & thank you.” But as she studied Luke 11:1 and Matthew 6, it became more apparent that what God wants from us in prayer is constant, honest, reliant communication spurred from a close, intimate relationship with him. Not only asking for our daily needs, which are SO hard to see past! But for the greater things! Because if we really knew him, we would be ABLE to SEE that HE is ABLE to accomplish MUCH more than just: “Please, help me pass this test, provide me a job, etc.” He is able to change eternities. 

And then, we got to pray with her. Her prayers are deep, emotional, hopeful, and encouraging. She knows God so deeply. She prayed for so many things I never thought to pray for. But she had such confidence God heard her and already had a solution because that is how much he cares for us. 

My goal is to be like Prati. I want to know God this closely – close enough to pray to Him like she does. Close enough to want his glory more than my own. Close enough to kneel before him in reliance. Close enough to have joy in EVERY circumstance. Close enough to praise him for every good thing…

Close enough to be able to look a woman in the eye, as she did to me, and tell her: “You are significant and important. You are right, not because of who you are, but because you have a Father that invested into you. You are here for a very great purpose – DO YOU BELIEVE THIS?” 

*Prati changed my life in a few ways, no lie. But the largest way is this: while we were in India, she had all the women at the conferences pray that I find a good husband and get married. At the time, Zak & I had been broken up and going through much breaking. She told me this later, but she knew Zak from his time in India and prayed we could be together, if in God’s will. So, I owe this lady a LOT! – Isn’t that cool?! 

I May Be Creating Fireworks on a Blank Page?

Recently, I’ve been looking forward to a trip I am taking to – drumroll – ISRAEL! I cannot believe we get to go there in less than a month – and by “we” I mean with around 40 of my friends! I have always wanted the opportunity to travel to another country with a group of my friends. Whenever I have gone somewhere, I think of how certain friends would react. So, going to Israel has me so excited for that reason… SO excited that I thought I’d write a pre-Israel blog, like the one I wrote before going to India last summer, but different.

When this trip was first proposed, the above excitement was all that I had: I was excited to go somewhere with all of my friends! But that’s it. I never felt the desire to go to Israel… I mean, in all of the children’s books and portrayals of Jerusalem I’ve seen, it seems like a dusty, plain place. (Although, that’s the reaction I had to India before going: it wasn’t anywhere I could imagine myself enjoying.) Since actually and financially committing to this trip, I’ve started to do some research into what this land is that we are travelling and spending much mula to go. Why, again? I know Jesus was there, or whatever, but why?

And so, this is what I’ve been asking God lately – what’s the point of going to Israel?

I’ve started reading this book (I am not nearly done, but will finish!) called “The Israelis”. It’s not about Israel’s past, rather, about its present. How do people live day to day in Israel – a country full of history, culture, and turmoil. What surprised me is the tremendous amount of differences you will find in the people of Israel… I forgot – they’ve come from all over the world! Literally! Even Lithuanian Jews moved to Israel when it was birthed. This is amazing!

As I thought about it, why I want to go to Israel now: to be where Jesus was.

Life’s been hard, lately. Not anything tramatic – just, hard. I’ve found myself looking to the past with longing – why can’t life be as exciting or fun as it was two years ago? Why can’t I go back to India and stay there? It’s been a suffering-ish long, low period with little to look forward to, except this trip. On my desk I have Psalm 9:1 posted so I must see it every day: “I will give thanks to you, Lord, with all my heart; I will tell of all your wonderful deeds!” Sometimes I read it and laugh – HA! Nothing is wonderful right now! Everything is hard. Nothing is going the way it should. Life lacks excitement. It’s hard to keep hope without having much good news in ministry.

But, as my wise, younger sister reminded me: Paul didn’t have much good news, either. Neither did Abraham… Nothing they really wanted to happen actually happened. Paul was in jail for a few years at a time – that must have been bleak. But he kept hoping! Even Peter, messing up so drastically, (same, Peter, same) was able to rebound and continue in triumph.

What makes me different from them? I’m only looking at the surface results while they were able to experience the joy of being suspended in God’s plan of goodness. They were able to know God so closely, they celebrated everything because he was worth fighting for… And that’s what I’m looking forward to with Israel. I look forward to getting a deeper understanding of the life of Christ, which could not have been filled with many “good things” – I mean, we know this. Yet, in the midst of a world that hated him, he pressed on knowing how good his Father was. That brings me to tears. I see how hard it is to continue when it looks like everything’s falling apart. I see the doubt creeping into my day to day. I see how enslaving these thoughts and feeling are – how restricting they are in keeping us away from knowing the true goodness of our Father – I WILL give thanks to you! I WILL tell of all your wonderful deeds! I won’t let my faith in His goodness die just because it’s getting harder.

I wrote this a few weeks ago and since have started the book of Hebrews. In Hebrews 4 I was reminded that entering God’s rest means having faith… Rest in the midst of hurt, pain, storms – all happens from faith in who God is, what he wants, and how he has created us to be. I want to get there. Every time I read it, I realize I’m so far away from resting in God, but it’s comforting knowing that’s an option.

Thank you, Lord, for dealing with me so gently and so patiently. Thank you for giving me a chance to learn what I need to learn – even if it takes awhile. Thank you for showing me who you are again & again & disproving my thoughts that affect my life that say: you are not good. Because you are so, SO good.

 

 

Well, that kills my one-blog-per-month goal… so here’s a pic of the cutest kitten you’ll ever see:

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Look at that fuzz….

A whole LOT of UNFINISHED thoughts

When I run, my feet don’t hit
When I prod, it stays put
When I throw, it doesn’t zoom
When I hit, no impact.

It’s like I’m S U S P E N D E D

Like my feet don’t touch the ground
Like the air won’t fill my lungs
Like my fingers won’t curl

But I can think & feel
& everything is so fast around me

But IIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIII am suspended!
EYE can’t reach!
AYE can’t hit
I CANNOT GO.

I’m looking around at E V E R Y T H I N G
On me, in me, that IIII do.
So concerned, so consumed.
“Why can’t I hit? Why can’t I go??”
Repetition on & again
Examining every piece of me to find freedom

I cannot stop!
I must NOT be suspended any longer
My feet can’t take it
I need the solution. I need to solve this.
I need to move.

I flail & jerk & bend & scream & kick,
but I’m still suspended.
Unrelenting my anguish, unforgiving of my captor
My flesh, it’s crawling & yelling & hating
& I burn because I…
I’m suspended…

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Come here, stupid sheep

Last night was one of those extremely wonderful nights that you don’t get all the time. I started the evening in a sour mood. I got home from work, ignored my husband, and just cleaned/cooked/folded to get my pent-up rage work usually brings out of me. I felt that way even when one of my sisters walked in, 15 minutes earlier than the rest. She was sweet and could tell I wasn’t in the mood. Then, the other girls showed up. This was my high school cell group meeting, so these days require a bit more energy and fun. I was NOT feeling it.

Brenda started sharing what she had studied out of the book we are going over prior to the school year: “Crossing the Line of Faith”. The content arrested me: people matter to God. 

Lately I’ve been hooked on how amazing it is that we get to know God and how life changing it is to get closer & closer to Him. This was definitely an addition to my findings: as you get to know God, you see how remarkably people matter to God. Yes, it seems so obvious: God loves people. I mean Jesus died on the cross for us, didn’t He? But the passage we went over just focused on the weight of God’s care for us so well. The passage was Luke 15 – finding of the lost. 

There are three examples of things that become lost in Luke 15 – a sheep, a coin, and a son. As we read through the process of each thing being lost it was SO relatable! A woman loses her coin and she begins to carefully search EVERYWHERE for it even sweeping! HA! How funny. When I lose something important to me, I lose my shit. It’s on my mind ALL day if I do not find it and if I want it right then & there. Such great efforts, emotion, and time is spent looking for things we care about when they are out of our reach. We think, we strategize, we PRAY for that we could just find what we are looking for – whatever it is! (I think I search for lost items of clothing weekly. Oh, the frustration and turmoil I go through over a pair of pants… How funny.) 

Luke 15 includes my favorite passage from when I was a child: the lost sheep. Oh, how unreasonable the shepherd is!! He has 99 fine, smart sheep, but he leaves them to look for the one lost sheep. How STUPID did that little sheepy have to be to leave the comfort of his flock and the safety of his shepherd and get himself lost? He must’ve been the idiot sheep. I think I’ve always related to this little dull sheepy… What does the shepherd do when he finds his lost sheep? “Then he calls his friends and neighbors together and says, ‘Rejoice with me; I have found my lost sheep!’” I have found my stupid little sheep! YES! He cares so deeply for the little, stupid sheep that he gathers a party for its return. 

Lastly, there is the prodigal son. He has everything: wealth, comfort, love… But he was ungrateful, demanded money, then left. How heartbroken his father must have been. (I think of my parents watching me go through my various spurts of rebellion… How much more could I demand of them when they had given me everything?!) Then, the world drags him through shit, and he returns home. Upon his return, there his father sees him and throws a celebration! He did not care what he had done, only that he is home now. 

When we were done, one of the girls voiced a concern she has: that even though she has a relationship with God, she thinks that something will happen in her life to make God look at her after death and reject her from entering into heaven. At this point, I knew I could relate. How often do we think this way that my status with God is conditional?! That if I mess up, he must really be upset with me or annoyed with me or he will ignore me! He won’t be there for me anymore. This is SO sad.

Something I realized during the pain of a brother committing suicide was something beautiful. I wasn’t even too close to him, but I felt the weight of his absence. The body of Christ is so built upon each other, his death left a glaring hole. But then, as a friend and I spoke, she said: “I wonder what he did when he got to heaven… I bet Jesus walked up to him, threw his arms around him and said: ‘This is why I died for you. You are home.”

No matter what we do we have an amazing standing with God. That is how much we matter to Him. He will go to great lengths for us even if we’re as stupid and naive as a sheep or as demanding and rebellious as the son – he will ALWAYS welcome us with open arms. 

Seeing this teenager get it, seeing the tears well in her eyes as we talked about this made me realize I was getting it, too. I had to be reminded. I had to rejoice in this. I forget too often. And we cannot forget. We CAN’T FORGET how solid grace is, how unshakable God’s love is because it affects the basis of our relationship with him. If I think he judges me, it will not be a good relationship. It will be based on pressure and fear. But with the freedom to come to the Lord as David does and voice whatever concerns you have – that’s a real relationship! That is why your best friend is SO cool. No matter what my best friend does, I will always be on her side. Even if I’m mad, even if she annoys me, even if I’m being a jerk: we committed to being best friends. If you mess with my best friend, you better watch your back. She’s my person. (Silly, but for real.) 

God is staggering. 

The second part of the lesson is this: as you get to know God, people start to obviously matter to you.  15:1-2 “Now the tax collectors and sinners were all gathering around to hear Jesus. But the Pharisees and the teachers of the law muttered, ‘This man welcomes sinners and eats with them.’”

During our discussion, one girl said: “This is something I struggle with, though, is caring about people…” Although, as she spoke she came to the realization that she has started to care more about people. One of the greatest motivators for caring about people enough to invite them to Beta or tell them about God is heaven. She realized that maybe I don’t care about them, but how much of a bitch do I have to be not to tell them about heaven. 

I really loved her honesty. Yeah, it isn’t natural to care about people – especially this deeply! I could TOTALLY relate to her. As I thought about this, I realized how important people have become to me. Not all the time, obviously, but how much joy I’ve realized I have in others.

I believe this comes with getting close to God. As you see his value in other people, you start to value them yourself. Also, it must be the right thing to value if the God of the universe values it, right?! 

Anyway… this is long and I could go on & on, but I’m so thankful I matter to God enough for him to love my sin-filled being and teaches me to value others. 

Thoughts on Knowing God…

For the past few weeks I have been writing down every encounter I have with verses that mention “knowing God” in the Bible. Yeah, I could probably just do a word search or whatever and they would all come up, but I decided to do it this way out of curiosity… Well, it just sort of happened. I think I really started this list because, for the first time, I started really noticing how OFTEN the NT authors mention the IMPORTANCE of knowing God!

These verses have so much passion to them. When I read them, my heart started racing. I read them out loud to myself, and tears would gather. They read like words on fire, like poetry, like the most important truths in all of the world throughout all of time… the words about the importance of knowing God.

I made this list out of curiosity because, when I began, I was a little confused about knowing God. I knew that He was important to know, but I was not sure why it was mentioned so often just that we should “know” him. I mean, really, you’d think the passion that swirls and surrounds these verses would be better around a different topic. Maybe one like serving God? Or evangelism? Yes, these topics do have their fair share of passion, but I realized that knowing comes first. It must.

I’ve been through a few changes in my life. In fact, 2016 has been the craziest year and we’re only in June! I started the year looking forward to a wedding, I was hospitalized, I started a fast-paced full-time job, friends have left, I got married + moved in with my new husband, and I have been trying to juggle functioning, submitting, and keeping my thoughts centered on God. It has NOT been going well. My walk has been suffering a little and weeks go by where I do not feel even an ounce of passion like I did before for the Lord. I feel like I’m dragging behind, and often forget the involvement of my creator in my own life. I feel pretty forgotten, left out, and keep piling expectations on myself that I keep failing to meet. Being a grown up sucks. See, I’m still a kid – just in an adult body.

So, in the few times I have reached out to God through his words for comfort, direction, and help all I can see is the importance of knowing God. At first, it was frustrating. But now, I know why this is all I can see: if we do not know God, then we burnout. We act apart from him, which is not how he intended us to live. We start reverting back to our own ability and forget his power.

There is no action here… Maybe just opening a Bible and flipping pages. It is a mindset change, a commitment to remember your need for the Lord. A humbling experience that reminds me I cannot without him. A restoration of hope in who He is and what He has done for us. Getting to know God is the most wonderful thing I have ever experienced.

Over the weekend, we got to hear Keith talk about David – the man after God’s own heart. He spent all of his time getting to know God, didn’t he? He still fell, he still experienced fear and sorrow, he still failed miserably… But he knew God well enough to give his life to him – over & over. His knowledge of God took him to great heights and made his life complete. When you read the Psalms there are mixed emotions, but there is an overall sense of security and hope. David knew the breadth, depth, width, and height of God’s love and stood in it. God was his best friend, his rock. What an amazing best friend.

I want God to be my best friend. I feel like I’m starting over in this phase of my life. Everything has changed. But one thing I know is the same is God’s love for me. How patient and kind he is with me. How much He wants for me. I want to be like David. I want to be like Howard. And Martha. It’s possible to know God without getting swept away in the insanity of life.

Knowing God intimately, as a best friend, propels us into a relationship that results in the outpouring of love. That results in peace in our own lives. That results in answered questions. That results in security and stability in every situation, even the bad ones… Because: we know God.

Maybe I’ll post again about more of my findings… Until then, what are your experiences or encounters with getting to know God better? Anyone else have this sort of revelation?

(Didn’t list the verses bc it might be fun for you all to find them yourselves! Keep an eye out while you’re in your word, maybe?)

If I had died on Monday it would’ve been okay…

I’ve lived such an amazing life.

I don’t mean to brag, or anything, but my recent life has been pretty exciting. From getting engaged, losing my job, facing a health scare, and then finding another job… You could say the past few months have been extreme up and downs.

However, today, I sit here, my fifth day in a bed at my parents house, in tears.

I’ve been trying to process everything that’s happened. I’m so thankful for a week at home to recover and to be lazy, but mostly because I’ve had time to think through all these things that have happened to me. (This is unusual because I’ve been too lazy or “busy” to think about what God’s been doing in my own life recently. It just hasn’t happened.)

But then, I remember Paul in prison. His beautiful revelations and thoughts conceived while reflecting on the glory of God in his own life, then writing it down to give to others/us, has been truly awakening to me in my idleness (granted, I haven’t read nearly as much as I could in my laziness).

Anyway, he has inspired me to look back at my own life as I’m imprisoned (lol, not really, but kinda unable to move about).

And I realize, in wake of possibly dying if I hadn’t gone to the hospital, that I have been given such an amazing life. More amazing than I have ever realized before. Seriously, I’ve been crying for days at the beauty of it all…

Yes, my circumstances are awesome. I’m the most spoiled person I’ve ever met – what with growing up in a christian home, never lacking anything I need, traveling to remote/beautiful locations, having amazing relationships and an amazing fiancé… But I’m talking something deeper. I’m in tears because God has truly given me a refuge, a life full of hope, a light in this dark world… He’s preserved me in His grace. He’s never let me out of His site. Even at my darkest moments I was never out of His grasp. For some reason, He has never let me go no matter how hard my kicks and thrusts of rebellion/selfishness come against him.

Jesus Christ, He is good. I’m speechless. I am seriously speechless…

If I were to die today from a pulmonary embolism blocking my veins, I wouldn’t be sad to hear the news because I believe I’ve lived so much more than I have ever thought I could in God’s grace… and I can’t wait to meet Him face to face – the one who has saved me from my pit of depression and self-absorption. The one who has given me so much to live for and a true purpose that isn’t myself. The one who has protected me and chosen to use me despite my inadequacy. The one who continues to reveal himself in all his glorious goodness daily. Oh my, I am so in love with Him.

I think I feel a smidgen of what Paul felt when he said, “to live is Christ, to die is gain.” No, probably not, but something to that effect. I can’t wait to see what else God has in store for my life and for other’s lives. I hope I can relay the beauty of who he is for the rest of my life.

*Bed-ridden thoughts over.

Last days in India & lessons learned.

Last conference
Last conference

 

When I got to home, I felt like I was on vacation. Home was easy conversation, beverages with ice, and fun things to do. India was hot, fast, and filled with prayer. My friends welcomed me home happily and so did my bed. Remnants of India pop up—like being surprised to find toilet paper in the bathroom, brushing my teeth with water from the tap, and driving on the right side of the road (or driving at all!) But, I keep feeling like America will be over and I’ll be back in India soon enough…

 

The strangest thing about coming back is how life is slow. Everything about India is intense and fast-paced—the traffic, the music, the preaching, etc. Here, it’s grocery shopping, cleaning, work, sickness before anything else. It’s harder, it’s slowing down… No, it’s distractions and meaninglessness. (Ok, not that intense, but it’s definitely anti-climactic coming back to real life. I know this is common for many coming back after a spirit-filled missions trip, but I did not expect it.)

 

I also hate coming home and seeing my sin. Somehow, I forgot about my communication issues, control issues and my extreme amount of self-absorption while I was in India. Then, I come home and boom–here it is flaring up as strong as ever. It made me so depressed the first few days, until I realized I was just feeling sorry for myself and that I can quit being a baby and think about other people.

 

Despite these negativities I once again adopted upon coming home, I realize I am home for a reason. I had this beautiful, wonderful, amazing experience in a far-off country that is filled to the brim with sheep without a shepherd to come home to another country full of sheep, waiting for a kind, patient, gracious, loving shepherd. So, here I am. I am so inadequate in every way, but God taught me in India SO much about how kind he is that he will take anything you try and do for him as a gracious, life changing present for the building of His kingdom. He smiles at my little efforts and passions as if they mean the world to him… while in reality, my “gifts” are probably more like the dead mice my old cat used to leave at our doorstep. He’s good.

 

So, here’s the last of India that–I hope–lasts forever.

Such good kids!!
Such good kids!!

The last few days in India were a blur. The conference ended, and I was exhausted. It was a harder conference overall—it was EXTREMELY hot and we didn’t connect with the women like last time (Prati didn’t even speak their language and there were many more women there). We did, however, get to hear from one of the leaders. She was very willing to share with us and was an all around thankful, joyful person. Praise the Lord. I didn’t realize that if they don’t have teams from countries like ours they have to cancel the conferences—that’s so crazy. So, these women really did look forward to us being there and appreciated us immensely.

 

One thing that was very cool was that the women got up and shared how this conference has struck them. They mentioned each one of our teachings—how God used us to inspire them or corrected wrong views. It was crazy to see how God used our simple studies to encourage and equip these women! Many copied notes to take back to share with their villages! That was one of the most rewarding moments of my life—Prati leaned over and said, “See, your labor is not in vain.” If only all ministry was this obviously impactful… (I take back all complaints I made about studying for India teachings before the trip–HELLA worth it!)

Praise the Lord!!
Praise the Lord!!

The last day, we went shopping in Hyderabad. It was so much fun! This is coming from me who hates going shopping with a passion—any kind of shopping, I hate it. Seriously, I go grocery shopping once a month at most. Prati took us to an Indian mall. I stuck with Caitlin and Adi, my buds, and it was a different experience. It wasn’t too crazy because it was a mall and not street shopping, but it was different than America and I liked that. My favorite purchase was a ridiculous polo t-shirt for Zak (which consequently, he wore when he proposed to me). Men in India wear really patterned/colorful button-down shirts regularly.

 

Beautiful view from our last hotel...
Beautiful view from our last hotel…

The last meal with Prati was sad, but fun. It was also some of the best food we ate all trip! A pastor (who took us shopping, lol) joined us. We made it to the airport and after a long time in line, we said bye to Prati. I sincerely hope I can spend time with her in the future. She is one of the most encouraging people I’ve ever met (if not THE most). She’s worn-in and humble, but confident and beautiful in Christ. Talk about #lifegoals. I’m tearing up right now thinking about how grateful I am for her guidance and encouragement this trip. I will never forget the words God spoke through her to comfort us and empower us in him. She motivated me to love and know Jesus more–which is my ultimate goal with anyone I meet. I was honored to be her disciple for two weeks and I think of her and rush to my word so I can be as strong as she is someday.

 

Everyone was surprisingly in good spirits the last day and travel day—for the most part. I think we all got a little sick of planes. I kinda hit a point of frustration being in Amsterdam as our flight was delayed (I’m bitter at that place because it did not give me what I want—wahh.)

I miss Naan
I miss Naan

We got to the Akron airport and everyone dispersed. I couldn’t take it. I went to the bathroom before seeing my family and cried a little thinking about how amazing it was to spend two weeks with such beautiful women for Christ—people I look up to and admire entirely. I’m so grateful for their patience, company, and that these spiritual giants would even give me the time of day. It was so much fun in every way.

 

We said bye and India was over.

 

I can’t help but feel, again, like I’m going back. I probably won’t, obviously, anytime soon, but I hope this feeling motivates me to share God’s workings in India with people here. And I hope he forms in me a heart of compassion, confidence, and of relentless faith.

 

These are the things I learned in India.

 

Compassion for anyone and everyone. This is kind of obvious because I went to India which is full of hurting people. But, I’m overwhelmed by how beautiful they are. All of them. Coming home I realize I didn’t even see my friends this way. Now, I am struck by how much they matter! How much others should saturate every second of my life! How much I love to help and encourage and be of any need I can to beautiful people created in the image of God! I had to go to India to learn this because of how hardened I am. But I encourage you to think about who you encounter daily and view them as God does. Is that hard? Yeah. So, start your day in the word to set your mind to how he views them. Your life will change. People aren’t a problem, anymore. They aren’t annoying (as much, lol). And they’re valuable. The most valuable things in the world! Even the poor in the streets of India… Oh, how the Lord loves them and us and everyone you meet.

Gypsy dancers!
Gypsy dancers!

Confidence in God and His word because his goodness is worth living for and his righteousness cannot be ignored. This was beautiful to learn. Why would we doubt God’s word? Why do we lack confidence when we act on it or teach from it? No. It’s God’s word from God to humanity. There is nothing more that we could be confident in. I love that he taught us this. The Bible became so much more important to me. Though, I must confess, upon coming home I was busier than I’ve ever been in my life. I neglect the Word often and I feel it. But the couple of times a week I do open it, it illuminates my life. A goal from India is to soak in the word, daily. To discover who God is through it and to understand the depths of his care for us and his plan all along. I am so thankful for classes like LTC to teach me how to do this so I can gain confidence in God and my words to others aren’t light, but saturated in the deep truths of his love for us.

 

The realities of the new life we have. I might write a separate blog on this when I am emotionally stable enough to do so because the new life is still too amazing to comprehend. One thing I will say is that I hardly thought about what having a “new life” in Christ before I went to India. In India, my guilt and negativity consumed me often and God reminded me repeatedly of the new life in Christ to depths I literally had never imagined before. What confidence we have in this!!

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How precious every life is. Even yours. Kinda riding off of the last point… I get SO stuck in the thought that I don’t matter in God’s plan. But I do. He lavishes grace upon grace onto me for a reason. He’s given me a purpose and a mission. He loves me so much and delights to see me delight and gives delights in blessing me. I play a huge part in expanding his kingdom. SO DO YOU! Do not take what you have been given lightly and DO NOT let the devil infect your perspective of who you are. You are fire and you’ve been given the chance to spread it. People need fire. Imagine if we never forgot this? We would never need to turn to anything to fill us/waste our time. I would not need to sit in front of a mirror doing make up 15 minutes a day to feel worthy or watch netflix for an hour to experience joy–no. I CAN take everything from Him with joy in how much He loves me!

Myself & my friend/sister in Christ. She preaches POWERFULLY and we are the same age!
Myself & my friend/sister in Christ. She preaches POWERFULLY and we are the same age!

Do not doubt God. He takes your little steps of faith and turns them into a marathon of accomplishment. I was humbled to see what my creeping up to the podium in front of women that first day did for them… I realized this CANNOT be my own power. No. There is a God and he took this simple message and spread it deep within the hearts of the women there. Eternities will be changed because of the steps we take in our lives. Even if it seems like this step  of faith is useless or you don’t think this person will listen– YOU NEVER KNOW! Either God will change lives with it or he will teach you something great about who he is– or both! I have seen this play out since being back in negative and positive ways. Negative because I see myself going back to the old ways of doing things without faith–manipulating and cutting down the severity of the truth to appear “cool”. I’m ashamed of doing these things. When I do it, I remember what God showed me in India: be bold, do not be ashamed, and do not think that my efforts will go unnoticed by God. He will come through. He will take your steps of faith and his spirit will accomplish more than my persuasion and manipulation ever could. He’s already shown me such things here as one day I just asked one girl what her objections were to receiving Christ. I prayed with her to receive Christ that day. This was God’s power, not mine. No fancy lingo and over-preparation, just faith in God’s truth.

 

→ Here are some things I think I touched on in the other blogs, but would like to add to complete my culminating ending point. So, here:

(Sidenote: I wrote two other lengthy blogs on my trip while in India. I could not post those publicly due to names/places travelled. If you are interested, I can send them to you personally.)

 

Friendship is one of the greatest things we can have in this life. A sad fact that I did not know this as strongly going into India, but during and coming out of the country, I am so thankful for friends–for the good and bad and especially grace.

Friends :)
Friends :)

You are exactly where you are supposed to be. So take it with both hands and do something beautiful for the Lord. He’s waiting for your first move, putting chances in front of you and lessons to learn. Do not sit and think “if only”. No, the time is now. These are the days we have. Let us rejoice in them and make His name known.

 

God is so good, He blows me away. Far, far away. What an exciting adventure we have in store as we get to learn the great lengths of his goodness.

Me & my beautiful sponsor child. (And her mother!)
Me & my beautiful sponsor child. (And her mother!)

My Dramatic Pre-India Blog

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Taken at a pastor’s conference from the last trip to India, 2012.

Woah. I’ll be in India in less than two weeks. I’m kind of an out of sight out of mind person, so my trip is only becoming real right now. Seriously, I just started freaking out.

Usually, I’m an “I can handle everything” type of person. I take on too much by thinking I’m smart enough, diligent enough and just overall capable to handle whatever. Here I am suddenly face to face with something that I have absolutely no control over. (Not that I had control over the other things, but I am able to convince myself that I am capable. Those things aren’t as scary as India).

Recently, I’ve been really digging Elisabeth Elliot. (For those of you who do not know, her husband was one of five men that flew to Ecuador to do missions and was killed by the natives they wanted to love. She went back to love those natives, who remember killing her husband, and lead them to Christ… aka: she’s a badass extreme.) Her main theme she preaches is obedience and trust in the sovereign God. Could you imagine, after her life circumstances?

Her topic is one that I struggle with — a sovereign God when I can’t see the need for sovereignty. Life’s under control. I can fix my problems. Too often I live as if God isn’t in control. Her confidence and inner peace comes because she can see how in-control God is — she’s faced death and he’s come through.

I haven’t faced death. I’ve been well preserved. The small sufferings I have encountered have been my own demise.

So, I’m terrified. Will I be able to face this amazing opportunity having no capability, nor control, and give it to God? Trust that whatever happens is in his hands? Trust him for clarity in communication with teaching and in truth when doubts/conflicts arise? With travel? With safety? With, maybe, illness or something bad happening — that he will make the situation work to his will?

I guess, it’s terrifying because this could potentially be an answer to all my prayers. This could be an opportunity to truly sacrifice for the Lord, something I’ve never had to fully do, but pray for often. That’s terrifying. My greatest hope is that whatever happens shows those around me how freakin’ amazing Jesus is.

God’s the one who has given me all that I have, who’s protected me, who’s preserved me. He’s given me forgiveness, made friendships possible, a family that’s beautifully supportive, generous and overflowing with love and most of all, he’s given me a purpose. I never thought I would be able to live for anything other than myself and my own interests, but he’s slowly chipping away at my heart to take joy in other people. (People… once the bane of my existence, now the reason I live. And laugh. And want to love.) He’s given me hope for the future and eternal comfort in the safety of his arms.

Anything could happen, but whatever happens, even if it’s rather anticlimactic (which probably will be because we’ll be very well protected and it’s only two weeks) will happen because God is large. And it’s in his will whatever happens.

I guess, I wrote this as a comfort for myself, but also to those who are facing a tough decision/step of faith/everyday life.

To you, I would say what I’ve been realizing and can’t wait (but can wait) to put into practice: whatever happens — even if it’s bad — he will work for the good.

Elisabeth’s husband died, she lead many to Christ and helped restore people’s faith across the world.

Abraham faced killing his son, his willingness brought on rest and reassurance for thousands of people in the future. And the Lord provided.

Jesus faced death on the cross AND a future of ridicule and let-down from his followers. But he did it because God had a better plan, one that would change people everywhere.

Today, we look at our day-to-day decisions like they don’t matter, they aren’t like those great decisions, like they won’t affect anyone’s eternity. BUT THEY DO. The little things that are right in front of you could change someone’s life.

I haven’t led many to Christ, but the few times I have was because I did something slightly uncomfortable — a conversation or answering an awkward question or being a friend to someone who wasn’t appealing. I take for granted those little opportunities and the fact that God orchestrated those little moments to add to someone’s eternity. It was nothing I did, but he set it up this way. Even if it was mildly embarrassing or I was insecure at the time, he had bigger things going on behind the scenes. I just had to take my eyes off of my schedule.

Maybe I am unqualified to say such things, but I encourage you to look at the big picture WHILE paying attention to detail. Apply his large plan to our small scale lives. Because the more I get to know God, the more I realize he doesn’t see our day-to-day as onerous or monotonous as we do. He’s got great things in store, no matter who you think you are, you are his prize possession and his instrument in revealing his greater grace to lost people.

Isn’t that beautiful?

In closing:

→ I am so thankful for the opportunity to go to India with a few of my closest friends and women who have shaped my life spiritually. I am looking forward to learning about a woman’s way of life in India and her walk with God so I know how to encourage them, pray for them, and what to praise God for doing in their lives.

→ I am so thankful for all of you — for all the support you have supplied, financially and prayerfully! I am SO thankful for this opportunity. I hope we come back with enough encouragement and stories of adventuring through God’s kingdom to repay you in full.

→ Prayer requests would include: teaching clarity through translators, open hearts for the women, discernment on encouragement and teaching topics, time to hear individual stories/encourage individuals, against sickness so we can teach and serve effectively, unity as a team [for my little sponsor child, Pooja, to know Christ :)] and please, strength against the evil one, I think. Not even entirely sure how to handle that one. (OH AND a bomb-ass time with my friends.) …I also hope I don’t come back wrecked because I already feel weak going into India. But, whatever happens, I can’t wait to learn more about the depth of my father’s heart.

“What shall I render to the Lord

For all His benefits toward me?

I shall lift up the cup of salvation

And call upon the name of the Lord.

I shall pay my vows to the Lord,

Oh may it be in the presence of all His people.

Precious in the sight of the Lord

Is the death of His godly ones.

O Lord, surely I am Your servant,

I am Your servant, the son of Your handmaid,

You have loosed my bonds.

To You I shall offer a sacrifice of thanksgiving,

And call upon the name of the Lord.

I shall pay my vows to the Lord,

Oh may it be in the presence of all His people,

In the courts of the Lord’s house,

In the midst of you, O Jerusalem.

Praise the Lord!”

 

Psalm 116:13ff