One Year

One year ago tomorrow I boarded a plane from El Salvador to the USA for the last time, as far as I know. It was an extremely fast and completely unexpected transition. It was a shattered dream. It felt like a betrayal. It was confusing. It was so painful. It felt hopeless. But it is being redeemed day by day. I thought I would take a minute to reflect on some of the lessons that I have learned over this past year.

  1. Forgive in real time. This lesson came from a very wise woman in my life after a conversation about a month after I returned. She listened patiently as I told my story and shared my heart and then she said, “Kelly one of the most healing things you can do is learn to forgive in real time.” What she meant was that when all of the memories and accusations and conversations start playing in my head, I can either feed them or I can diffuse them. So in those moments when I would start remembering and thinking the “how could you’s” I would forgive. Right then. In real time. It completely diffused the ugly thoughts that could easily become sin. For awhile forgiving in real time was literally every five minutes. But it was very healing. And the reality is, a lack of forgiveness doesn’t hurt the person I’m not forgiving. They don’t care. They are over it. It only hurts me. One of my favorite quotes is “Forgiveness is setting a prisoner free and discovering that the prisoner was you.”
  2. God works most profoundly in the midst of shattered dreams. One of my favorite verses comes from the book of Proverbs and it says “Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but when dreams come true there is life and joy.” And that’s the thing. You’ve got to wade through that hope deferred. You have to go through it, push through it, nearly drown in it sometimes. You have to do it though, because life and joy are on the other side. You have to go through it, not around it. I have seen God move so profoundly in my life this year. He has brought healing, hope when there was none, renewed my calling, taught me how to love better and deeper, given me a renewed love and desire for the Gospel…I could go on and on. Shattered dreams are neither surprising nor troublesome for God. They are his most unique canvas.
  3. Just because it didn’t turn out the way you thought it would doesn’t mean that you weren’t called to do it in the first place. Man, I struggled with this so much. Because my time in El Salvador ended so abruptly and painfully, I started doubting whether I was supposed to even go there to begin with. That’s where the enemy attacks us, isn’t it? He takes our pain and turns it into insecurity. But that’s not what God does. He used another wise woman in my life to remind me that my calling wasn’t to El Salvador or to the children of La Casa. My calling was and always is to Jesus. Wherever he takes me. She also reminded me how certain and clear my calling was to go. Not just to me but to everyone around me. My job is to obey, God’s job is everything else.
  4. Sometimes I feel like a sailboat. And that’s ok. I posted this post about a sailboat soon after I returned. Sometimes I still feel like that. Drifting, depending on a wind that doesn’t seem to come, looking for the shore, feeling like I’m talking but no one is listening. And that’s ok. The thing about sailboats is that the wind eventually picks up and that shoreline eventually shows itself. And God is always listening.
  5. Hope does not disappoint us. I didn’t really believe this until recently. More on my story of losing hope and finding it again in the next few blogs!

A Prayer

I started off 2014 reading the book of Ephesians and was drawn in to two powerful prayers in this incredible book. The more I read them, the more I felt like God was calling me to pray this prayer regularly for the girls at La Casa de mi Padre. So, I took the prayers and made them into one, and wrote it out with a blank where the name would go. Every day I pray this prayer for whomever God places on my heart. Sometimes I pray it eleven times, one time for each of the girls. Sometimes it is one specific girl. It just depends. I thought I would post it here in case any of you would like to join in praying for them. It’s also a great prayer to pray for yourself and anyone in your life.

A Prayer for the Girls of La Casa de mi Padre (from Ephesians 1:17-19, and 3:16-19)

I ask that you, the God of our Lord Jesus Chris, the glorious Father, may give __________ the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that she may know you better. I pray also that the eyes of her heart may be enlightened in order that she may know the hope to which you have called her, the riches of your glorious inheritance in the saints, and your incomparably great power for us who believe. I pray that out of your glorious riches that you would strengthen __________ with power through your Spirit in her inner being, so that Christ may dwell in her heart through faith. And I pray that __________, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge- that she may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.

Armor

Over the last week, because of a great discussion with my missionary coach, I have been thinking a lot about the Armor of God described in Ephesians 6:10-18. I’ve read these verses many times throughout my life, but for some reason, this week made them really come alive for me. I thought I would outline here the process that I have been using with these verses in case it is helpful to anyone else.

v. 10 Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. (Where does my strength come from?)

v. 11 & 12 Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is no 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. (Who is my enemy? The devil. Or better yet, who is not my enemy? It has helped me to say out loud who my enemy is NOT. (My friend, my boss, my parent, my sibling, etc…wherever your struggle is) is NOT my enemy.

v. 13 Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. (There is a solution! God has provided the ability for us to stand firm.)

v.14a Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist… (What is the truth? What is the truth about God’s thoughts towards me? What is the truth about my calling? What is the truth about God’s character?)

v.14b …with the breastplate of righteousness in place… (The breastplate protects your chest, protects your heart…the exact place where the enemy is going to fling his arrows. What are my wounds that he is going to target? What are my vulnerable spots? And what is the truth about that?

v. 15 …and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. (What is it to be a peacemaker? Commit to speaking the truth in love with the intention of bringing peace, not causing discord.)

v.16 & 17 In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. (Commit to memorizing verses pertaining to your struggle so that you can be armed and protected.)

v.18 And pray in the Spirit on all occasions, with all kinds of prayers and requests. (We are not alone! Sometimes it means putting on this armor several times a day. Sometimes it means repeating “such and such is NOT my enemy” several times a day. But whatever the case, help is with us always.)

 

Charges for 2014: Part 3

Charge #3: 1 Corinthians 15:58

Therefore, my beloved , be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain.

Be steadfast. Be immovable. This work is not in vain.

Charge #2: Be Relentless

Those two words move my soul and get my heart pumping in indescribable ways. Be relentless. Let nothing shake you. Don’t let your emotions and feelings get in the way of your calling. Be relentless with those kids. Love relentlessly. Forgive relentlessly. Relentlessly give your time. Don’t give up. Don’t be shaken by their bad attitude or their hurtful response. Be relentless. Be relentless. Be relentless. As God so relentlessly pursues, loves and forgives me; so will I for these kids.

Charge #1: An Undivided Heart

I have been reading several Psalms each day since the Spring and when I read Psalm 86 a few weeks ago, a concept in verse 11 really stuck out to me. The verse reads:

“Teach me your way, Lord, that I may rely on your faithfulness; give me an undivided heart, that I may fear your name.”

The words “undivided heart” really jumped out at me. I feel like my heart can become so easily divided here on the mission field (and just in life in general). I feel divided between relying on the Lord vs. relying on my own abilities, trusting the Lord to provide vs. worrying about my finances, laying the kids I work with at the feet of Jesus vs. trying to “fix” them myself, and finding my home here vs. feeling a pull from my home in the States. And those are just a few examples! There are constantly things battling for my heart. But my prayer for 2014 is to have an undivided heart. To trust fully. To worship only One. To rely completely. Undivided.

 

Charges for 2014: Part 2

Charge #2: Be Relentless

Those two words move my soul and get my heart pumping in indescribable ways. Be relentless. Let nothing shake you. Don’t let your emotions and feelings get in the way of your calling. Be relentless with those kids. Love relentlessly. Forgive relentlessly. Relentlessly give your time. Don’t give up. Don’t be shaken by their bad attitude or their hurtful response. Be relentless. Be relentless. Be relentless. As God so relentlessly pursues, loves and forgives me; so will I for these kids.

Charge #1: An Undivided Heart

I have been reading several Psalms each day since the Spring and when I read Psalm 86 a few weeks ago, a concept in verse 11 really stuck out to me. The verse reads:

“Teach me your way, Lord, that I may rely on your faithfulness; give me an undivided heart, that I may fear your name.”

The words “undivided heart” really jumped out at me. I feel like my heart can become so easily divided here on the mission field (and just in life in general). I feel divided between relying on the Lord vs. relying on my own abilities, trusting the Lord to provide vs. worrying about my finances, laying the kids I work with at the feet of Jesus vs. trying to “fix” them myself, and finding my home here vs. feeling a pull from my home in the States. And those are just a few examples! There are constantly things battling for my heart. But my prayer for 2014 is to have an undivided heart. To trust fully. To worship only One. To rely completely. Undivided.

 

Charges for 2014: Part 1

As 2013 was coming to a close, I began to pray for some new wisdom and a new “charge” for 2014. I feel like there are three main things that God has placed on my heart, so I thought I would share them with you in a series of three short posts. (You know, since I haven’t posted since October, I might as well overload you with three in a row!)

Charge #1: An Undivided Heart

I have been reading several Psalms each day since the Spring and when I read Psalm 86 a few weeks ago, a concept in verse 11 really stuck out to me. The verse reads:

“Teach me your way, Lord, that I may rely on your faithfulness; give me an undivided heart, that I may fear your name.”

The words “undivided heart” really jumped out at me. I feel like my heart can become so easily divided here on the mission field (and just in life in general). I feel divided between relying on the Lord vs. relying on my own abilities, trusting the Lord to provide vs. worrying about my finances, laying the kids I work with at the feet of Jesus vs. trying to “fix” them myself, and finding my home here vs. feeling a pull from my home in the States. And those are just a few examples! There are constantly things battling for my heart. But my prayer for 2014 is to have an undivided heart. To trust fully. To worship only One. To rely completely. Undivided.

 

Beautiful Scars

Sit here with me and tell me your story

Even if it breaks my heart, let me see your scars

Shame will whisper, but we can’t listen

‘Cause these are the stories that make us who we are

And I love who you are

Beautiful scars, your beautiful scars

Reminders of the wounded love that has carried us this far

Beautiful scars, your beautiful scars

Turning the marks of our pain into beautiful scars

(“Beautiful Scars” by Steven Curtis Chapman)

I am amazed and truly overwhelmed everyday at how faithfully God restores broken things. We are all so broken, so full of scars and pain, and yet God makes us new. He turns our beauty into ashes. I have never seen this more beautifully displayed than with the kids of La Casa de mi Padre. They still have a long way to go, true. I still have a long way to go. But the marks of their pain are truly transforming into beautiful scars and I have never been more privileged than now to sit and listen to their stories. Even though it breaks my heart, it is the greatest privilege of my life.

The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me,
because the Lord has anointed me
to proclaim good news to the poor.
He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted,
to proclaim freedom for the captives
and release from darkness for the prisoners,[a]
to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor
and the day of vengeance of our God,
to comfort all who mourn,
    and provide for those who grieve in Zion—
to bestow on them a crown of beauty
instead of ashes,
the oil of joy
instead of mourning,
and a garment of praise
instead of a spirit of despair.
They will be called oaks of righteousness,
a planting of the Lord
for the display of his splendor.

Isaiah 61:1-3

No Failure Is Final

I am currently studying the book of Joshua (one of my favs!) and today I finished working through chapters 9 and 10. If you read my blog much, you know that the story in chapter 9 is one of my favorites because it is such a great warning to remember. But as I paired that chapter that I am so familiar with to the one after it, I realized what and incredible story of forgiveness and redemption they are together. If you haven’t read them recently, I highly recommend it, but here is a little recap.

Joshua and the Israelites were commanded by the Lord to take the land that was set before them.  Taking the land pretty much meant wiping out all of the other people in it and taking their cities. Not super fun for the people already in the land. Earlier chapters in Joshua describe the battle of Ai and how successful, with the help of the Lord, the Israelites had been in defeating that city. As you can imagine, news of that battle spread throughout the land and the people were afraid.

The Gibeonites were getting pretty close to next on the list, so they started making a plan. Their plan was actually pretty genius. They put on old, dirty clothes, gathered up some moldy bread, found some old, cracked wineskins, and set out towards the Israelites. When they got to them they told the Israelites that they were from a distant land and that they had travelled a great distance to see them (afterall, look at all of the old nasty stuff they brought with them!). Joshua listened to what they said, surveyed their old nasty supplies, and decided they must be from a distant land. So they made a peace treaty with them.

This is a problem because they weren’t from a distant land, they were from next door, and the Israelites had been commanded to take their land. In fact, there is a great verse, Joshua 9:14, that says “The Israelites sampled their provisions but did not inquire of the Lord.”  Woops. They looked at what could be seen, decided that their reasoning was enough to make the decision, and they totally messed up the plan.

But, a treaty is a treaty, so they had to stick with it.

So moving into chapter 10 we find the Gibeonites getting attacked by all of the other people in the land because of their stupid treaty that never should have happened, and Israel now has to go help these people that they were actually supposed to destroy. I can just imagine what was going through Joshua’s head as he and his armies were heading back to Gibeon. He had to be thinking that it was going to be a disaster. If he had only inquired of the Lord…if only…if only…if only….

And God could have said to Joshua, “You know, you got yourself into this mess.” But instead He says, “Do not be afraid of them; I have given them into your hand. Not one of them will be able to withstand you.” (vs 10:8) No mention of the previous blunder. No mention of I told you so. Just, don’t be afraid, I’ve got this.

And not only did Joshua and the Israelites go in and defeat these guys, but as soon as the other armies started fleeing down the road, God knocked them out with hail. The Bible says that more of them died from hail than from the sword!

The Bible also says that in order to properly defeat these guys, Joshua ordered the sun to stand still…and it actually did! It stayed in place about a full day. Joshua 10:14 says “There has never been a day like it before or since, a day when the Lord listened to a human being. Surely the Lord was fighting for Israel.”

So yeah, Joshua totally messed up by making that treaty. And yeah, he ended up having to back track and fight an intense battle because of it, but his failure wasn’t final.  He was still usable. In fact, God even thought he was worthy enough to listen to.

What failure are you hiding under today? I can guarantee you it’s not final.

Going Is Great! Leaving Is Hard…

This time of “in between” has been surprisingly difficult for me.  It’s kind of hard to explain because the excitement of moving to El Salvador and getting to see the kids of La Casa everyday is still very much there, but each day my sadness increases.

Going is great! I really can’t wait to be there! For so many reasons, but mostly because I know this is exactly where God wants me to be. I genuinely feel like my life has built up to this moment. I am prepared, I am called, I am ready. I am so ready!

But I will tell you what, leaving is hard. I didn’t think it would be easy, but I didn’t expect the huge sadness that I feel right now. I am grieving…and that’s ok. I was in the car yesterday and an old Rich Mullins song came on with the lyrics “hold me Jesus, cause I’m shaking like a leaf. You have been King of my glory, won’t you be my Prince of Peace?” Oh man, those lyrics hit me hard.  I had no idea how much I was shaking.  How much my soul is longing for my Prince of Peace. I am so accustomed to going at things alone. I’m a fighter, so I was fighting alone. But I so desperately need my Prince of Peace now more than ever.

My friend, Christine, describes this time as a paradox.  She would know because she is going through the same thing right now. She told me yesterday that she is praying 2 Corinthians 4 for me, so I went and read that today. I think the last paragraph of that passage is the best way to describe what I am feeling right now.

16 Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. 17 For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. 18 So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal. 

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!