Waiting: What Do I Focus On?

Waiting.  Nobody really likes to wait. It’s hard to wait for the really exciting things that are going to happen in life. But waiting can be even harder when it is for something that could be bad – waiting for the inevitable.

When I am waiting for something it’s an ever present thought that I just can’t shake. I can be seemingly fully present in what I’m doing, but that thought of what is to come is right there in the back of my mind. Over the past few weeks there were test results that I was waiting for. They were looming reminders that life might change for the worse. I could engage with people, put a smile on my face, but as soon as my mind wasn’t focused on something else it would snap back to the reality that was unknown and hanging over my head.

The truth is, I couldn’t change what the results would be by thinking them over. They became a source of anxiety and sometimes fear. One day while I was getting ready for bed, Andrew asked me, “What is God teaching you at this point in the process?” That was the moment when the Lord met my heart in a deep and profound way.

The way that the reality of bad news kept coming to mind like a continual reminder on my cell phone, was the way that Jesus wanted my heart focused on something different. The way my mind so effortlessly focused on what was to come in this life is what Jesus wants me to focus on in the next. He longs for my heart to be stayed on the Truth that He loves me. He is planning eternity with me. God will eternally dwell with His people and this life will be but a wisp of air.

I was gifted the opportunity to not think of the awful things that could be on the other side of that phone call, but instead think of the glories that are on the other side of eternity. What a treasure that is. I have a pretty great imagination, but I think even that will pale in comparison to what is to come.

I can go through anything in this life. It’s momentary. It’s hard, but it’s only for a little while. What is to come will make anything here seem so much less. In those moments when my heart begins to dwell on fear, stew in the pity of life, or just get discouraged; Jesus is reminding me that I have a greater hope. I am not defined or limited by this life. I was made for something far greater.

“He said to me: “It is done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. To the thirsty I will give water without cost from the spring of the water of life.”

-Revelation 21:6

I have no need to fear or focus my mind of the things that I can’t control in my life. I can give them over to Jesus and set my mind of the things that I can’t control, but are certain. Life is uncertain, but I do know that Jesus is who He says He is.

No longer will there be any curse. The throne of God and of the Lamb will be in the city, and his servants will serve him.  They will see his face, and his name will be on their foreheads.  There will be no more night. They will not need the light of a lamp or the light of the sun, for the Lord God will give them light. And they will reign for ever and ever.”
-Revelation 22:1-5

 

 

Home

August 13.  A pretty momentous date in my mind. It marks one year since I moved in my little house in the woods. It may seem insignificant to have lived somewhere for only a year. Since moving to Alaska in 2012 I have moved 10 times and never spent more than 8 months in any dwelling. It’s hard to make roots, settle in, and make a place my own when I know I’ll be packing up again shortly.

Rewind to 2012. I had packed up all my belongings, gotten rid of anything that couldn’t fit into an 18-gallon tote, sold my car, said goodbye, and purchased a one-way ticket. It was an adventure, but I didn’t feel like I was going somewhere I might spend the rest of my life. One year full of tears, laughter, friendship, growth, and challenges…. I felt like I had a place here. But at the end of each season I would pack up, move out and put things in storage. Then I would move in with someone new at the beginning of each new season. There were always unknowns. Where will I go? Who will I live with? What will the dynamics be? Will this feel like home? Can I make it more inviting and comfortable than the year before? In so many wonderful ways I loved the unknowns. I could walk hand-in-hand with the Lord into those situations. I had to relentlessly trust that He would navigate through all the questions I had, excited to lead me since He already knew.

Then 2015 came along. Andrew proposed. Many more unknowns rose to the surface. Now where would we live? What would it be like to be married? How do you navigate differences when it’s a lifelong relationship? What will my role be? Will I be a good wife? Will he think I’m a good wife?  And the list could go on.

There weren’t any houses available in our town. None. Housing shortages are not something that I was accustomed to. I was trying to prepare my heart for living in a house where I would haul water, that wouldn’t be big enough to have guests, that would be sub-par in my mind, but adequate for living. But Andrew kept reminding me that God wasn’t stumped by our need. He owns it all and He knows are needs.  So regularly I would lay my need back in God’s hands and choose not to worry or fret, or even try to fix my need.

A few weeks later, I found myself walking through a house with Andrew. It was not just a house, but it was better than I could have imagined. It has two bathrooms,  guest room, storage, running water, and lots of character. It wasn’t so much the house that I loved the idea of, no, it was the idea of the things we could do with the house.

The Lord has allowed me to see dreams fulfilled in our home. We’ve been able to host guests, people in need, and small groups. We’ve had people sit on our couch and weep. We’ve laughed with people over meals, hosted game nights, and just had people here to rest.

I’ve had the honor and privilege to make our home a place of refuge. It’s a safe place for people to be real, to rest and be refreshed, a place to seek prayer and counsel, a place for quiet, or a place to come and rid yourself of loneliness. It’s a place where my husband can rest or get work done. I always dreamed of having my own home, but more than that my heart ached to mirror my Creator in being one who shapes the atmosphere of a place. I didn’t even know my heart longed for this role until I had it. It’s been one of the most fulfilling years of my life because I am doing something that I believe God instilled in my heart.

I have gotten to decorate, serve, love, give, host, cook, clean, organize, arrange, and all of it has been worship. I simply get to walk in the things that God has for me and I love it. Whether I am sweeping floor, doing laundry, getting the guest room ready, or feeding my chickens – I am the steward of this domain. My home is not my pride and joy, but it is my responsibility. I get to set the tone and I think that’s delightful.

I know that this will not be my forever home, but I do know that I will cherish the things that God taught me while living here. I will remember fondly the memories made and the opportunities it presented. I remember learning that I am a grower of things. It brings me great pleasure to grow flowers, vegetables, and my little flock of chickens.  But I also love to grow relationships and be used of God to help people grow. I believe the theme of this year has been of finding roots and of growing. I find it so beautiful how those things go together. The Lord gives good things and He takes great joy in watching us steward those things to His glory.

Thanks[giving in]

It’s that time of year when facebook is inundated with daily posts of what they are thankful for. I have toyed with the idea of doing the same thing (I just don’t have the dedication to share something each day).  So here I am giving in. Don’t get me wrong, I love this time of year. Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays and I desire to live grateful for how wonderful my life really is. God is so good to me in ways that I struggle to express in words.  So I have decided that I want to write out 31 things that I am thankful for this year.  It will be set up as my remembrance point of the incredible things God has allowed me.

1.  A breathtaking place to live that screams the glory of it’s Creator every day.

2.  God’s endless grace that desires my heart and the option of repentance even when I feel like I’ve utterly blown it.

3.  Friends who speak truth to me, give me grace, and allow me time to grow.

4.  The people who faithfully offer to do grocery shopping for me just because they want to serve and support the ministry where God has placed me.

5.  Laughter – especially when we’re laughing so hard that we can’t remember what started it in the first place.

6.  God’s Word – For God seeing fit to reveal Himself through it, how it seems new every time I open it, and it’s deeply life changing power.

7.  Village Bible Church – my extended family there and the way that they individually and collectively support me in many ways.

8.  My parents – for raising me, loving the Lord, and quietly challenging me to follow Him.

9.  My two wonderful nephews who make me laugh, remind me how to love and just enjoy life.  (and for all the other children that I am privileged to be the aunt of, even though not biologically.)

10.  Snow! – it’s beauty, source of fun and adventure, and just all around greatness!

11.  God’s peace – I am so thankful for that peace that doesn’t make sense but calms my soul and reminds me that I am exactly where God wants me and that I should/can continue to trust Him.

12.  A warm bed to rest in every night. I am not sure what I would do without it!

13.  Handwritten notes that seem to arrive on the day that they’re most needed.

14.  The ability to travel – to see new places, experience different cultures, and make lasting memories with wonderful friends.

15.  Long hikes in the woods.

16.  Working internet so that I can keep in touch with friends and family that are miles (and even oceans) away.

17.  God’s provision – that God chose to use many generous people to meet my financial needs, and that is a reflection of all the other needs that He willingly meets every day just because He loves me.

18.  Music – because it just makes life a little better.

19.  The Routh family – their desire to make me a part of their family, teach me how to truly rest, and encourage me.  For the ways that Kayden makes me laugh even when I don’t want to, melts my heart, and his “nickname” for me.

20.  Ice cream – I don’t know who invented it, but they should receive an award.  That stuff is just amazing!

21.  Tanalian Leadership Center (& Tanalian Bible Camp)- I am humbled to be a part of this incredible program and I don’t even know how to praise God enough for it. I’m grateful for the opportunity to see each of the students (who become very dear to my heart) and staff (who are pretty great too) grow as we seek the Lord together.  I am thankful for the way that SO MANY people see the value of this ministry and partner with us.  God has worked here in so many ways and it’s a tremendous blessing to see it first-hand.

22.  The Wardell Family – They really love me.  They mentor me, help take care of me, and just desire the best for me.  I am so thankful that they’ve been here to walk through this season of life with me and I look forward to continuing our friendship for years to come.

23.  Rest – even if I battle against it on a daily basis, I am thankful that God brings true rest and that I work with a group of people that values truly resting in the Lord.

24.  Lifelong friendships – the kind that pick up right where they left off even if I haven’t see  the other person in many years.  Those kind of friends are just good for my soul.

25.  Wool (and other winter gear) – I just really like being warm and it can get really cold.  I enjoy the simple pleasures in life 🙂

26.  Prayer – the ability to share my heart with God, thank Him for all He does in my life, intercede for others, seek His will, gain wisdom, confess my sin, and know that through all of it He hears and understands me.

27.  Hot beverages – I just love them. Tea. Good Coffee. Apple Cider. Hot Chocolate. Yum.

28.  Port Alsworth’s Community – I just love this quirky little village that has so much personality.  There’s always something interesting happening. I have grown to love the people here and what an example they are of love, joy, and trusting the Lord.

29. Planes, boats, snowmachines, & Hondas – they’re necessary sources of transportation, but also a source of fun.  I am just really grateful for the ways they make life easier.

30.  Jesus Christ  –  For His deep love, perfect life, demonstration of love & sacrifice, atoning work, resurrection, and hope of His return.  He is the reason that I live and have hope for the future.

31. Growth – I can’t praise the Lord enough that I am not who I was a year ago.  For the working of the Holy Spirit in my life and the ways He convicts me, fights for me, and reminds me I am never alone.  Thank you, Lord, for the work you are doing in me!

As I wrote this I realized that 31 is not very many.  I could keep going on and on, but I need to limit this.  God has done so much in my life and I hope that I never stop seeing what God has done.  It’s been encouraging to reflect on this year and see how truly blessed I am.

Not an Island

I am not a fan of getting up in front of people and sharing my thoughts or teaching from Scripture.  It’s not a favorite of mine.  I don’t mind sharing one on one, or writing out my thoughts and letting others read them (but I don’t want to be sit there and see their reaction).

Lately God has been teaching me some interesting truths from Scripture that are challenging me to look at my life slightly differently and be willing to share more.  Ephesians 1:16-23 (well, the entire chapter really) are amazing.  They build me up, but at the same time feel like this huge charge to live up to.  God has given His children the privilege of knowing Him and enlightened my heart to see Truth from Him.  It’s humbling and overwhelmingly wonderful all at the same time.  He gave His church a great, “inheritance in the saints.”  So the enlightening that He has given to each person ought to be shared.  I am not sure if all of this is the author’s intent or not.  I was just convicted and struck with the fact that God wants us to share with others what we know of Him. 

I need others to walk alongside me in life and tell me what God is revealing to them and I need to do the same for others.  Even when I don’t feel as though I have anything profound to share, God is at work.  The same power that raised Christ from the dead is accessible to me.  I have an intimate relationship with the greatest source of wisdom, power, and love in the universe.  How am I handling that privilege/responsibility?  Do I keep it to myself?  Do I allow others to speak truth into my life?  Do I ask them to?  Do I receive it with humility?  Do I share it with gentleness? 

I desperately need others to walk in the steps of Truth with me.  I am blessed to have that.  It’s not because it’s what I need.  It’s the way that God designed people, and how He designed His Church.

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My [Internal] Thoughts

Life takes unexpected twists and turns, and not all are bad.  As I sit writing newsletters, sending out prayer cards & thank you notes, going through packing lists in my head, and day dreaming about what adventures living in Alaska will hold – I often catch myself thinking, “When did this all sneak up on me?” 

I never considered moving to Alaska.  I was never the adventurous girl in a group.  But lately it seems as though God is changing all that.  I sit now thinking, “Thank you Lord, I wouldn’t trade this adventure for anything.”  It wasn’t in my plans, but that definitely doesn’t mean it’s bad.  I can’t even get my thoughts about the whole situation into words.  Nothing seems adequate. 

To my core I am filled with wonder and praises for God for this opportunity.  I have seen His faithfulness through every step of the journey.  It’s been have been humbled and encouraged by friends, family, my church, and even strangers partner with me in this journey.  God’s resources are limitless.  I have no idea what means He’ll use to supply my needs, but I know that the supply is coming from Him. I am completely amazed at God’s perfect timing and provision.  I couldn’t have asked for a more supportive and wonderful church to prepare me for the mission field.  I have had so many opportunities to learn, serve, and laugh with other believers.  I know that I’ll miss being with them each week, but that my connection to them isn’t ending.

Then there are times when I feel like I’m an imposter.  Thoughts run through me head like a whirlwind, “I’m not really a missionary.  What do I have to offer these students? I’m not cut out for this.”   About two weeks ago these thoughts came to a peak and something hit me that made this whirlwind come to a screeching halt.  The truth is, I don’t have anything to offer, I’m not cut out for this, it’s really not about me at all.  Satan wants me to despair and distort the reality that I’m in.  God is the one who has something to offer these students.  God is more than able to transform the youth of Alaska and He chose Tanalian Leadership Center, it’s staff, including me to be a part of that transformation. 

The Truth is always so freeing.

Interesting Thoughts

This week I have been presented with a lot of decisions.  None of these decisions are bad decisions.  All just very different.  Therefore, I have stepped back and found the irony in the situation.  The more I pray and ask God to lead me and guide me as I make decisions, the more opportunities arise.
It would be easy for one to then conclude that God is not leading.  To that I would say that exact opposite.  God sometimes gives us obstacles and fog to see if we’re really ready to listen for His voice and look for His leading.  Sometimes faith is not easy.  Sometimes we just have to wait patiently until we hear His still quiet voice.  He doesn’t always lead with a pillar of fire or a great cloud.  As much as I would sometimes like that, I know my faith is tested when guidance isn’t as evident.
Faith is not about seeing and knowing exactly what’s going to happen when.  It’s about trusting and being certain about the One who I am trusting.