Monday, January 7, 2013

The Next Step

I feel like in the last week, God has taught me so much. So many tidbits of wisdom. So much to think about--growing, stretching, expanding and eyes opening. Sometimes it's things  I’ve heard over and over again, and other times, I'm able to see things through a different lense. But my heart right now is like dry, cracked dirt...and it needs water. Everything right now seems like drops (or an ocean) of water. It’s so good! I’m soaking up everything...and my heart is slowly starting to feel like a well-watered garden. Refreshed. Ready.

Ready for what, you ask? Ready for all that God has for me! The last six months or so have been a huge wrestling match. I wrestle with myself and God on almost a daily basis. Is it strange to say that I think I wrestle with myself more than I wrestle with God? With a new year, and deeply rooted hopes and dreams, there are new things on the horizon.

[This is where it gets difficult]

I have been holding those ‘new things’ very close to my chest. They’re personal and important, and I haven’t been ready to put them out to the rest of the world. At first, I wasn’t sure if it was the path I should take, and I didn’t want to recant, back out or let people down. Ultimately, it’s a pride thing...I didn’t want to seem like a failure. The truth is, even if I least I tried! I wouldn’t be able to stand myself if I didn’t try. And the rest of the truth is that this is very. hard.

So, it’s time to begin to share my dreams...God’s dreams...with the masses (or to the three of you that regularly read this)--even if it’s just to give you a glimpse at how you can pray for me. 

[deep. breath.]

My hope and dream is to return to Liberia. God has put a dream in my heart to return to Liberia and minister to my neighbors an the people that God puts in my path. What does that look like? It’s hard to say, but the one thing that I know is that I want to serve and love people and ultimately just live life with them. It’s going to be difficult. There will be laughter, pain, joy, tears, struggle and grief. I don’t feel fully equipped. I don’t have all of the answers. I’m not a counselor. But I am called to love and listen and embrace and encourage and pray.

My deepest dream [heart beating fast now.] is to have a community center in Liberia. What does that look like? Again, it’s hard to say. Bottom line: I want a big empty indoor space. A space where people can come and share life. A place to learn and grow and laugh and be safe and feel loved. A place where lives will change. A place where my life will change. A place where the Holy Spirit dwells and moves and works and heals. A place of hope. Hope in an everlasting Father who loves us so deeply and unconditionally. A Father who forgives, restores and makes us alive in Him. 

There is so much dreaming, planning and praying that needs to happen. It’s time to share my dream with others, and ask them (YOU!) to come alongside of me. It’s time for you to get involved. I desperately need you and your prayers! I need fresh vision, clarity and guidance. I need partners--prayers, dreamers, givers, encouragers, creators...all of the Body. You can also be praying against the enemy--he can so easily distract, discourage, divide and destroy. There is NO place for him here! Ultimately, this is God’s dream. I want all of this to be about Him...I am only the hands and feet.

This past year was beautifully difficult, but SO WORTH IT ALL. In case you haven’t heard, there's this guy Jesus, and He is kind of worth it all. But it makes me so excited for 2013! (Don’t get me wrong, I am still very anxious, scared, overwhelmed, confused...) This year is going to be an even more incredible year--I am anticipating great things and expectant for all that He has for me!
Thank you for your continued prayers and support! Wishing you many blessings in 2013, and I am so honored that you have joined me on this journey!

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Immeasurably More


I was trying to decide if I wanted to do a 2012 wrap-up post or a look-ahead to 2013 post. I couldn’t decide, and honestly, didn’t know what to say about either. I’m not sure I'm ready to publicly reflect on this past year, and to just get it out there, there are many days when 2013 just seems plain scary. I am weary, there is confusion and uncertainty, doubt and fear.

But, 2013 also excites me-- it fills me with hope and anticipation. A new year. A fresh start. A free heart. Eyes wide-open. Feet ready to go. Hands open. 

There is a longing, an urging, a desire--for many things, for different things, for new things. I need more. I want more. I desire deep--deep fellowship, deep passion, deep love, deep thanksgiving and even deeper joy. 

On December 31, 2011, God clearly spoke to me, and today, I find myself remembering and repeating those words.

“Get out of the boat. Your heart is ready.”

I knew that I had been seeking safety and shelter in the boat. I immediately thought back to months before in Liberia, when we had a morning devotion and talked about getting out of the boat. To make it come alive, we all piled on our couch [the boat] and one person stepped out onto the tile floor. That person had to call out the next person by name, and extended their hand to help them out of the boat. This continued until we were all off the couch.

In that, I realized that we can’t rely on others to help us get out of the boat. Sure, they can encourage us and pray for us, but ultimately, God calls us out and His Spirit fills us with courage so that we can take that step. That initial step is the most difficult...many times, painfully difficult.

Shortly into 2012, I took that initial step. And oh man,  was it the scariest thing that I’ve ever done! In June, I took another huge step. When you’re able to take a step, you gain confidence and freedom and God shows you amazing things. But there were so many times that I doubted and I wanted to jump back in the boat...or I guess I could have just let myself slowly sink into the waves. Some days felt like I was sinking, and that the current and waves would surely take me away. There are days or weeks or even months of paralysis. There has been alot of wrestling--wrestling with myself and with God. I feel disconnected, and like an alien without community. I. Need. Community.

Tonight I was catching up on last night’s session from Passion 2013. Louie Giglio talked about immeasurably more. Oh, my heartbeat. I reflect over the last year, and see time and time again how faithful God has been. I have laughed,  prayed, cried, fought and survived. God has done immeasurably more than all I could ask or imagine. But here’s the great news: there is so much more that God wants to do!

I think about that, and it floors me. He still wants to use me? He still wants to show me great things? He still wants to draw me even closer to His heart? He wants me to continue on this incredible journey with Him? It’s crazy!

And I start to think about how crazy the journey has been. I think about the sleepless nights, being uncomfortable, the pain, heartbreak, loneliness, attack after attack from the enemy, hopelessness, absolutely no control, sickness and death. 

Jesus, I cannot do it again. I don’t want to do it again. My heart cannot handle anymore.

God will [not can...will] do immeasurably more than what I ask for or imagine. God has already done immeasurably more in me and through me. He has taken my heart of stone and given me a heart of flesh. He has opened my eyes. He has increased my faith, given me strength and courage, and given me peace in the storm. He has made me alive! Jesus has come! And when Jesus comes, He loosens chains, brings the dead to life and sends us out--all for His glory!

So tonight, on the second day of this new year, I am asking Jesus to come. I am asking God to help me in my unbelief. I know that He can do immeasurably more...He’s done it time and time again...but I have to believe that He is going to do it yet again

As I was curled up in my bed tonight in my pjs [I've been in them all day] with my Bible and journal and last night's session playing, God spoke again.

“Abide purposefully and sing courageously.”

That’s scary and uncomfortable. It takes wisdom and courage and patience.
Jesus, I need you...immeasurably more.