time to go!

Tomorrow my trip begins!

I leave for Atlanta tomorrow morning, get to have lunch with my Dad in the Atlanta airport, then meet my team! We’ll be staying in Atlanta until Tuesday and then we will be leaving for Guatemala. I can’t believe its actually here. I’ve had been forcing myself not to think about it all through school, and even until I came to Tampa, because I didn’t want to get too anxious. But now I get to!

I go back and forth between thinking that eight weeks is either really long or not long at all. Either way, I know it’s going to fly by.

Right now, I feel ready. (This will change in about twenty minutes). I’m so excited and expectant to see what The Lord has for this summer. I know He is going to change my heart in so many ways. I’m expecting to be pushed and disciplined, broken and stretched. However, even though I’m expecting these moments I pray that these are not my motivations. I can’t ignore the fact that I am going to be changed by this summer, but going into it focusing on this would be selfish and unfair to my team and the people in Guatemala. I’m praying the albeit common, but grounding truth to “love God and love people.” To do either requires me to surrender. Surrender the desire to be changed, to grow, and simply be present for God to show me how I can better love. Surrendering is the only way I can move my messy self out of the way, so He can work. Surrendering makes more room for grace and clears the space for all of Jesus and none of me.

So far I have no idea what training camp will look like, and really any other specifics about Guatemala than we will be in Antigua. I’m hoping to be able to blog a good amount while I’m there, but I honestly don’t know. Hopefully, I will know more this weekend. 🙂 I would be so grateful if you could pray for me and my team as we prepare to leave. That we would all come together as brothers and sisters in Christ, and be unified by His love and the desire to see His glory throughout Guatemala.

Only by His unending grace, I’m ready.

the beauty and necessity of knowing we’re pursued.

If theres one sure thing I have learned in college it is this-

To question everything.

Pull every article a part, check the facts, take a stance, support it, and then argue against yourself, push and dig for truth. (Which, as an English major, anything can be truth if it’s well supported, so there’s that.)

This exercise is good in truth seeking, but it can also produce a tendency for cynicism. Sometimes it seems the more truth we seek, the harder the truths are. We learn about trafficking children for adoptions or brothels, female genital mutilation, and gang politics in inner cities severely straining education just to name a few.

It’s easy to believe we are incapable of making any real change because we are just single people and these are huge issues. It’s easy then to excuse ourselves for becoming detached, allowing the physical separation to become emotional as well. Its easy to get stuck thinking that the whole world is just terrible and theres nothing we can do about it. (Cue Matilda’s dad, “I’m big you’re little, and there’s nothing you can do about it!” )

Thats the thing about cynicism, it’s crippling. For one thing, it usually (at least for me) carries an air of self righteousness in wondering how people could do these things, meaning I am thinking I am better because I wouldn’t do that. (Which is false because as my pastor says, the only difference between me and them is Jesus). So we don’t do anything because we are too “good” or because we think we can’t possibly make a difference.

Once I get down from my high horse and realize I am sinful too, that I need Jesus just as much as they do, I wonder how easy it would have been for God to be cynical towards us. He has every reason to, doesn’t He? He has given us everything, He has delivered us and forgiven us, yet we are still messy, rebellious people. He has every right to turn away from us because we are just too bad, but He doesn’t. He chooses to send His only Son. Jesus chooses to come down to the mess we have made of His beautiful creation and offer redemption.

The beauty of Jesus is that He comes into my mess, right in the middle of my tendency for cynicism, my insecurity, my idols, my lack of faith, my choosing sin over Jesus, and then trying to manage it all without Him. He reminds me that He still pursues me, He specifically  seeks me out to love and redeem over and over. He could look at how awful we all are and not pursue anyone, but He doesn’t. He goes after each and everyone of us individually, and I am so glad He does. How beautiful that He still goes after the one lost sheep?

When I feel like I can’t make a difference, that things are just too messed up and I am just one person, I have to remember the beauty of still pursuing. I have to remember that I can’t actually do anything, but Jesus can do everything. He can restore a girl’s worth, a child’s home, give dignity and grace. And He still does regardless of the numbers or measure of difference because He loves each and every one of us. He loves each of us enough to fight this broken world to rescue just one.

He continues to show me how He pursues me and I too often don’t give it the weight it deserves. I have to acknowledge and cherish above all else the beauty of this pursuit, of this great Love, so I can do the same for others. I pray for these horrendous issues terrorizing so many, but more so I pray that we would never stop fiercely pursuing the victims they way Jesus does, even for just one.

 

a safe insecurity

I’m not sure when I noticed how I would lock up, when I lost that child like instinct of community free of judgements and self conscious thoughts. Watching children engage with each other, and even adults, reveals how people could act without the societal conditioning that simply comes from living. Children don’t think of the proper thing to say or do, they just say and do what they want. They don’t think of the effects of what they say or do, of how people will think of them or what they do will say about them, they just do it. They’re not thinking about themselves in the way so many of us do in community.

Now I know they’re selfish in a different way, thinking about their wants or not thinking of how their actions and words could hurt others, but just think of that image of childlike community for a minute. How different would communities, both religious and secular, look if people were to stop thinking of themselves? Of course this sounds elementary, silly even, for a couple reasons. For one thing asking non-religious people to do anything that doesn’t benefit them directly doesn’t make sense. Not in a negative way, they just don’t have any reason to. And for religious (referring to Christianity) something like this seems obvious. Of course Christians should be thinking of others, but the problem is that we don’t. We engage in relationships by thinking of how another person thinks of us, what we should say or do to make a person think of us a certain way; we think of others only by associating them to something about us. We can’t get out of our own heads, our own character bubble (who we think we are), to get to deep heart ties and hard community. We’re stuck in superficial surface relationships based on similar styles and music tastes.

(Clearly I’m mostly talking about me here.)

I’ve so often equated how I freeze up around others to shyness or insecurity (If you know me well, you KNOW I’m not shy), but more often then not I’m simply stuck thinking of how the other person will think of me if I say/do the next thing. I’m more worried about how I’m building the person I want people to think I am rather than being present with the beautiful person in front of me. So I can’t call it insecurity anymore. I’m either being self-centered or I’m not fully trusting in Jesus.

With Guatemala coming up and knowing I will be meeting lots of new people, a fear (which is not from the Lord) began creeping up, telling me I would succumb to insecurity because I’m probably not as ____ as all the others. (whatever it was for the day). As I began praying and thinking about this, the fear of being insecure started to fade. Not because I suddenly realized exactly “who I am” (which I think is the silliest phrase ever, but thats another post), but because Jesus showed me how it is good to be insecure. In fact, if I ever feel comfortable on my own, in my own words or actions, I am back to being stuck in my character bubble, separated from Jesus. When I am insecure in who I am, I have to rest and trust fully in Jesus, in Who He is, what He would say, and what He would do. When I trust fully in Him, I have to lay all of who I am down, which means I can enter in to community with a clear head and be present. Then it’s easier to get past the superficial connections because most of those are based on how we build up ourselves, rather than pouring into and making deeper connections with each other.

So I will be insecure on this trip, I pray I will learn to be insecure and trust more and more in Him for the rest of my life. I pray I could flee from trying to satisfy the desire to establish “who I am”, but rather surrender all I am, all my mess and insecurities, so Jesus could be fully present in me.

 

Wherever I am.

Summer is O-FFIC-IALL-Y here and people are going places. People are spending summers in London, Africa, China, and awesome places within the borders of the good ole U-S of A. I’m excited for them; I’m excited for my trip to Guatemala. 26. Days. Crazy.

Ever since high school I’ve had the travel bug. I would say I’ve had it forever, but my Gramma would say, “Remember on the plane back from London and I asked you if this trip made you want to travel more and you said ‘no’?” Yes, Gramma I do remember and I was twelve and the plane ride was LONG. But, it did. It still does.

I think traveling and experiencing a different culture and country is fantastic, and I want to do it my whole life (like my Gramma), but I wonder how this desire intertwines with missions. I do believe God gives us unique passions for a reason, and I believe He uses those to place us where we will use those most for His glory, but I think things can get a little blurry when we start acting on our desires rather than His calling.

Before I know it, it’s going to be time to start seriously thinking about after college. The Lord has been so gracious with me in taking away so much anxiety I was holding about “the future” so I haven’t been thinking about it too too much. Yes, I have some ideas, but really I have no clue. I would love to teach abroad. I would love to teach here and pour into my students. I would love to go into full time ministry and just love and serve people all day long. When I say that last one, I usually mean “I would love to go into full time ministry, travel the world, meet all sorts of people, work in orphanages, feed the hungry, etc..” But the reality is, I don’t have to, nor am I specifically called (yet) to do that. Mostly because I can do that right where I am, where ever I am. I am already called to do that, because all followers of Jesus are.

I think about all these opportunities to go abroad, whether in ministry or not, and wonder how much my desire would be responding before the quiet kneeling before Jesus asking, “whats next?” I do have the desire to travel, but we are not called to act on every desire. For, “The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it?” (Jeremiah 17:9). If I were to “follow my heart” I might (most definitely) would have dropped out of school to move to Africa or Central America to adopt a bunch a babies, I would eat cookies all day, I would read for fun all day, and drink tons of coffee (more than I already do). But cookies all day are not God’s plan for my life, and as I have grudgingly learned, neither is dropping out of school.

All this to say, I have to watch my desirous, deceitful heart. I have to seek His Will through prayer and time devoted to just sitting with Him, listening. I am called to love people, to serve them wherever they are and wherever I am. Wherever I go, whatever I do if I call myself a follower of Jesus, He calls me to love Him first, then love others to lead them to Him. Everything else are details to be worked out as we walk, together.