January Spotlight: Christine

I have realized during these two weeks at Mission Training International that our stories are a powerful thing. Each person at this training, including the instructors, can tell story after story of God’s faithfulness and His strategic positioning and guidance in their mission work.  As I have listened to the stories of all of those in my class that are about to go onto the field, it has become so glaringly obvious that God has not abandoned us.  He is not silent.  He is not watching and waiting.  He is implementing his strategy and putting all of the players into place. I think there is more going on in the world of missions that we can see and I believe that in the next few years we are going to see a major work of the Lord.  So, as a result of this realization, I have decided to do a “Spotlight” category on my blog.  The goal will be to highlight one person (missionary, friend, one of the La Casa kids, etc) once a month. It may not happen, but I will try! So, let’s move on to the very first spotlight.

I would like to introduce you to my new friend, Christine. She is my age, and a single woman heading out onto the mission field.  For safety reasons I can’t reveal where she is going on this blog, so we will just call it Narnia and the people of the region, Narnians…cause I can’t think of anything better!

Christine is a physician specializing in physical medicine and rehabilitation. (And yes, it was pretty depressing to realize that I could have been a doctor by now!) With medical missions in the back of her mind, she had some doubts about pursuing that specialty because medical missions tend to lean toward things like general medicine/surgery (I think…Christine, if you read this, please forgive me for slaughtering the medical side of this). But, she really felt God calling her towards it so she went for it. As she worked through her internship and residency, the call to medical missions became stronger and she decided that she could go anywhere, except to work with the Narnians. It always works out when we give God exceptions! Ha!

Well, after lots of prayer on her part, her church’s part, and her mission agency, God started working as only He can.  Through a series of providential meetings of people working in Narnia, God opened her heart to the Narnians.  Last night as she was telling me this story, she said “God literally gave me the desire of my heart.” Let me tell you, that about made my head explode! I have been looking at that promise in scripture wrong my whole life! I always thought it meant that the desires that I came up with, God would give to me. But what Christine told me last night was that when she was open to what God was doing and following Him in obedience, He gave her the desires that He had for her heart. As in, He planted the desires of His heart into her heart. Mind blown.

So, Christine is off to Narnia, the place she wasn’t going to go to! Oh and by the way, that fear of hers about her speciality not fitting into missions world, this hospital in Narnia just happens to need a female physician that specializes in rehabilitation.  You know why? Because that’s what God does.  When we follow in obedience and trust, He gives us the desires of our heart.

Please be praying for Christine!  She is set to head out at the end of March, but she is still waiting on a visa, and there have been some complications in that area with other missionaries.  There are also some riots/protests in the area that she would be heading that need to wrap up before she gets there! So please be praying.  If you would like to follow along with Christine or financially support her (yes, even as a doctor she will be living on support), please email me! Because of the sensitivity of where she is going, I will only be able to give that info to people that I know. But if I don’t know you, you can still be praying for her!

Fear Is A Choice (What I Learned From A Movie Trailer)

When I went to see the Hobbit there was a trailer for a new Will Smith movie called After Earth.  In the trailer you see shots of the movie and Will Smith’s character is talking to his son, instructing him on what is about to happen.  This was part of his instruction:

If we are going to survive this you must realize that fear is not real.  It is a product of thoughts you created. Now, do not misunderstand me, danger is very real. But, fear is a choice.

As soon as I heard him say that I began to think of all of the commands in the Bible about fear.  I don’t know the statistics of how many times this shows up, but God says, “do not fear” or “do not be afraid” or “fear not” a lot throughout both the Old and New Testaments! And it seems like every time he says it, the person he is talking to is in a pretty dangerous situation or they are encountering a seriously scary looking angel, so it’s not like he’s just throwing those words around for the fun of it. For a great example of this, read the entire book of Joshua!

So if God continually commands his people not to fear, then it seems like that movie trailer is right. Fear is a choice. I don’t know about you, but when I choose fear, I get paralyzed. Sometimes mentally, sometimes physically, always spiritually. We live in a fear mongering society, so it’s no wonder that we are walking around paralyzed by fear.  But scripture is clear…fear not. Fear is a choice. I will not let it rule me.

Do not be afraid, Abram. I am your shield, your very great reward.” Genesis 15:1

Do not be afraid. Stand firm and you will see the deliverance the Lord will bring you today.” Exodus 14:13

“Do not be afraid of them; the Lord your God himself will fight for you.” Deuteronomy 3:22

“But do not be afraid of them; remember well what the Lord your God did to Pharaoh and to all Egypt.” Deuteronomy 7:18

“Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.” Deuteronomy 31:6

“Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid;do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.” Joshua 1:9

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On a completely different note, I have realized the “What I Learned From” title is becoming a trend on my blog, so I’m making it a category. If you want to read some of the older ones, here they are:

Party Hat (What I Learned From Supernatural)

The Comfortable Road (What I Learned From Meriwether Lewis)

Stuck In the Moment (What I Learned From Justin Bieber)

Be the Light of the World (What I Learned From Owl City)

 

 

 

When Will You Come Back?

I get asked a lot of questions about this move to El Salvador…which is great because I love talking about it!  But the most frequent one, far above all others, is “when will you come back?” Or to phrase it differently, “how long will you be gone?”

That’s a great question.  The answer is that I have no idea.  And I like that.  I have never liked to feel boxed in or held back in anyway, and a time limit definitely does that.  But the more people ask me this question, the more I have started to wonder.  It’s something that I think about often and have started talking to God about.  Not that I am necessarily concerned about it, I’ve just been wondering.  Wondering if I will ever live in the same city with my family again.  Just wondering.  The thing is, God has not answered this question for me.  He’s just said that I am to go.

On Christmas Eve my parents and I went to see The Hobbit and towards the beginning of that movie, I felt like God spoke directly to my heart.  Without giving anything away, Gandalf is trying to convince Bilbo to go on a great adventure with him and a bunch of dwarfs.  Bilbo is really not sure about any of this. Then they have this interaction that about knocked me out of my chair:

Bilbo: Can you promise me that I will come back?

Gandalf: No. And if you do, you will not be the same.

That is enough for me right now.

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Best of 2012

In what has become an annual tradition (read 2010 and 2011 here), and better late than never, here is my Best of 2012!

Favorite Book Overall: Love Does by Bob Goff This is a must read.  I’m serious.  Get a copy, read it, and then buy copies for your friends because you won’t want to give yours away.  It is beautiful, funny, inspiring and it will make you want to change the world.  It would be great if we all applied the concepts and actually changed the world!

Favorite History Book: To America by Stephen Ambrose I love history books.  I love Stephen Ambrose.  This is a great overview of American History (each chapter is a different subject) and is a beautiful love letter to America from one of this country’s best historians.  It is also his last work.

Favorite Album: Red – Taylor Swift Seriously, if you didn’t see that coming then you don’t know me at all.  I love this album.  I love that it’s different. I love that I didn’t love all of it at first.  I love that everyone loves Taylor Swift except for those who are lying to themselves.  Seriously, I love this album.  But since that was really predictable, here are some honorable mentions:

  • Owl City – The Midsummer Station
  • John Mayer – Born and Raised
  • No One Higher – North Point Ministries InSide Out
Favorite TV Show: One Tree Hill I know I am behind the curve on this since I just started watching this show on Netflix this year, but in my defense, the last season was this year so at least I caught that live! And I may or may not be watching it again right now… But anyway, I love the stories in this show.  I don’t know why…it’s probably not even that good of a show by critics standards, but I love it.

Favorite Trip Once again, I can’t choose! Three trips to El Salvador, Tanzania, Colorado in May, Disneyland with Cooper, Nashville with Allie, Allison, and Hannah, Florida with my family…there were too many great moments to choose from!

Biggest Disappointment: Not summiting Mt. Elbert This was a tough one for me.  Not only was this a practice mountain for Kilimanjaro…I just really thought I would be summiting it!  I was SO disappointed when we turned around at 13,600 feet…833 vertical feet shy of the summit.  Now, granted, I couldn’t breath and it turns out I had HAPE and ended up in the hospital for 48 hours, I was still really bummed about it.  But since this was such a big disappointment, six weeks later when I didn’t summit Kilimanjaro because of the HAPE, I wasn’t as torn up!

Greatest Achievement: Not summiting Kilimanjaro That’s right folks, I attempted two big mountains this year and didn’t summit either one of them.  I’m awesome.  But seriously, I reached 15,500 feet on Kilimanjaro six weeks post-HAPE and I was really proud of myself.  But even more proud of myself for stopping at high camp and not ending up in a Tanzanian hospital.  I think I might finally be growing up!

Favorite Card Game: Monopoly Deal I don’t know how many hours I played of this over the year, but it was a lot.

Least Favorite App That I Use Anyway: SnapChat Seriously, what is the point of it?  And why do I keep using it?  I have no idea…but I will still use it.

Favorite Moments Just to list a few…meeting Graciela, Disneyland trip with Cooper, Starbucks afternoons/evenings with Hannah, Allison, and Allie, watching Elliot learn to walk and talk, watching Ella, Cooper, and Parker play Just Dance (hilarious!), seeing Allison record her first demo, watching Allie steal the show in her showcase at school, meeting and getting to know Laura in El Salvador, getting to hang out with my cousin Kelsie, Friday Night Lights marathon nights with Lo, watching Cooper play soccer, going to the UGA baseball game with Lincoln, Dani, and Ashley, watching Hannah play tennis, nerf darts with my team at work…I could go on and on!

But other than all of that, nothing really big happened this year.  Oh wait, except this:

 

Maybe I Shouldn’t Go…

I started doubting this move to El Salvador when I got on the plane for my last visit in November.

Seriously, from the moment I stepped foot on the plane, I started taking hits.  Questions started swirling around in my brain like a war for my every thought.  Questions like: What are you doing? Why would you leave your job that you love? Why would you leave your family? You make a great salary, why would you choose to live on support? What if people forget what they have committed to and you don’t have any money? What if this doesn’t work out? What about your nieces and nephews…don’t you care about them at all? What about Allie, Hannah, and Allison…you have something so good going with them and you are going to ruin it.

Like I said, it was a full on attack.  Even though I know that I am being obedient to God in going (and He has made it so obvious that this is what I am supposed to do), it’s hard to tune that stuff out.  Even though the questions were just in my head, not in my heart, I started to wonder. I started thinking maybe I shouldn’t go. Doubt is a powerful thing.

But then I got there, I felt the hugs, I looked into the eyes and the questions started to slow.  And God in his faithfulness started pouring out His kindness until my thoughts changed to how can I not?

In an act of total God-kindness I was reading Love Does by Bob Goff on the plane ride home and I read this sentence:

To make an impact you have to go there and start a friendship. Friends do – they don’t just think about it.

And then I knew. Friends do. I have to go. That’s what friends do. That’s what love does. That’s what I will do.

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