Wrapped Tight.

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There was this pretty lady, all fire and faith, kneeling before me on a dirty gym floor. It was the Despidida—a farewell ceremony to complete our time in El Salvador. And I remember the cold water with which this lady named Tammy washed my bare feet. After praying real hard she whispered something in my ear—something I was learning already. I will not soon forget it.

I can still feel her breath on the skin of my ear. When she spoke, her voice formed a fierce whisper. She said, “You carry the baton that’s in your hands and you run hard and you run fast. And you don’t look twice at a guy who isn’t running with the same intensity as you.” All I could do was nod and cry big tears with this raw ache inside of me.

Because I wanted to run. I wanted to love the Lord with all of me. And I wanted others to expeirence this too. I didn’t ever want to quit.

At the end of the Despedida, they draped the flag of El Salvador over our thirty shoulders. And they said, “El Salvador means The Savior, so we are covering you in Him—and sending you home in good hands.”

In my journal, I wrote—over and over again—that I was ready. I was ready to return home and face all the schoolwork and changes which awaited me.

And tonight, I feel the same way. Because tomorrow, I begin my first year in public school. And although I am nervous, I know I am ready to run with endurance. I’m wrapped in The Savior. What more could I want? Really, he’s all I want.

I am His. I’m not my own anymore; I’ve been bought with a price. And so I trust him with my life. I trust him with every day I get to breathe.

There’s no place I’d rather be, than here in His love.

“’Now therefore, if I have found favor in your sight, please show me now your ways, that I may know you in order to find favor in your sight. Consider too that this nation is your people.’ And he said, ‘My presence will go with you, and I will give you rest.’”
Exodus‬ ‭33‬:‭13-14‬ ESV

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Prayer Tower.

imageSo we went to this place called the Prayer Tower. And beautiful things happened and the Spirit moved and we were empowered. Although much more happened than is mentioned here, I cannot describe anyone else’s experience with God. Here is what I wrote after returning from the Prayer Tower:

“I don’t even know what to say. But you are good, so good. And I love you. So much. I’m humbled by your power working in and through me. This Holy Spirit thing is for real.

“And God? I know that you are enough for me. I know that you are with me. I know that we are in this together and you’re never going to leave my side because nothing can separate us now.

“We went up to the Prayer Tower. And I cried because I was honestly afraid of school and this change and I was having trouble dealing with these fears. So I cried. Physically, spiritually and emotionally. My soul wanted to know that God was going to be enough if I found myself alone. The night rolled on and Tammy had the staff pray for us, and we prayed for us and the Spirit prayed through us. I prayed for Kalyn and Ivy because God placed them beside me. I knew he had things to give them. So I gave for him. Them we prayed for the staff. I prayed hard because I knew part of what they could be feeling. I prayed hard the things that I knew I would need too. Because, oh, they are special people; they are God’s children. Next, we prayed for the baptism of the Holy Spirit for those who wanted, but had not received it yet. I prayed, but I was unsure. He still showed up, imagehowever. I saw him move in Ivy, so I moved toward her and prayed. Kalyn was beside her so I prayed for her as well. I prayed hard through and because of him. We—eventually—finished and I was left wondering where all my fears fell. I knew God had heard, but apparently he didn’t want to respond that night. So this national [who became my favorite friend] finds a translator and comes to me. He says I pray with power, but there’s great fear in me. He says God has big, marvelous plans for me that will impact my friends, my family—everyone. He says I must take the authority and leadership God has given me to drive away all the fear—or something like that.

“And I knew God was enough for me. He personally spoke to me through one of his children.

“And I know I just want to be a part of his big, marvelous plan.”

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After that night, I was completely humbled and grateful for the ways in which Christ could use me to empower his church, his precious bride. I was excited to encourage his children that week—even if that’s all I did.

The week had just begun and God had so much more to do, but we were ready.

{more to come, eventually}

Without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him. Hebrews 11:6 ESV

God’s Eyes.

20140621-215249-78769878.jpgI pick up the pen to write again and it’s all too much. It blows me away. After reading the words I transcribed while in El Salvador, I am left dazed and amazed. I never realized until now that God answered so many of my personal prayers, that he placed such wonderful people around me, that he changed so many of our hearts.

It’s still too much and I want to take it slow. I want to breathe in every word and relive every moment as if it’s happening now. Because it’s a fresh breath blowing through me, a report from the place my heart lies. And you know what the Bible says:

“Like cold water to a thirsty soul, so is good news from a far country.”(Proverbs 25:25 ESV)

And that’s how I feel. Because I am a thirsty soul. I am someone who longs for places far off. I am a traveller without a home. When I live in tales beyond my backyard, I am renewed. I am satisfied. I am happy and content and thankful—for a few moments anyway. I want to move so slow in these next few weeks at home that a snail could surpass me. I want to learn all that I can from these things I’ve experienced. And I want them to grow in me, that I might not forget, that I might be inspired to pray, that I might never give up.

You’ll hear more, but only when I feel ready, only when I’ve seen the whole thing from every angle and out of God’s eyes.

Middle of Memories

imageDescribing what happened in El Salvador seems impossibly hard. Even after these couple days at home, I find it difficult to express the people and experiences I continually see in my mind’s eye. I don’t understand everything God did and the pieces don’t fit together like a puzzle as they should. I see snapshots only snapshots and two-second videos. I see a picture of a guy named Elias and another Ivy & I. I see a video, running slowly through my mind of us praying as one—voices, hearts, and lives lifted high to a God who understood both Spanish & English. Hearing words spoken to me by two women of God named Amy & Tammy, I am encouraged by the plans God has for my life and future ministry. I see smiles and laughter and moments which I will never forget.

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imageBut I’m not sure how to process it all; I’m not sure how everything fits into my life here in the States. I understood that God made me ready to come home, but to return here and live changed in what ways? Because I was changed—we all were changed. Through the Master’s Commision students and the times of prayer and the ways in which God individually spoke to us, we were changed last week. In the Master’s Commision students, we saw the fire of God and how it directed everything they did. We experienced the power of prayer when God healed people and breathed his Holy Spirit into us and answered the cries of our hearts. Many of us had a clearer vision of his plans for our lives. We heard God speak and we saw God move and we felt God grow in us, individually & corporately. And yet, how do we grow in and use those things here at home everyday? How do we live lives that reflect the changes he made in us? How can we stay the same, yet how do we live differently?

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I struggle with these questions. I don’t know the answers and every time I sit down to write, I feel more lost and confused.

But I do know one thing.

I know that he is enough. All we need is Christ Jesus and he will complete the work in us that needs to be finished. He will help us apply the lessons we learned and grow through the things we experienced. The only thing we need to do is invite him, like we did in the Prayer Tower. The God who met us there is the same God who lives with us here.

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In these past two days, I prayed. I sought. I asked. And he made himself know. He lifts my soul and uncovers the tools I need and reminds me of the lessons I learned. He shows up for me.image

I know he’ll do the same for the rest of us. We only need to let him in to meet & ask & share with him, because he will help us sort through everything we experience this past week. He’s God and we know he loves his children.

Make time to find him in the middle of the memories.

And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ. (Philippians 1:6 ESV)

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Happy.

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In a few days, I’ll be flying high in a bright blue sky. I’m living a dream, doing what I love for a God who knows my name. I know he is preparing the road before my feet—not just on this next adventure, but for this next stage of my life. As I find my way home, each step is filled with a certain wander, and I’m grateful for the chance to let it saturate my soul. Every moment isn’t gorgeous, but I know he’s holding me, and I am endeavoring to hold him closer through this trip. As I am reminded of my call, I will find power to shed every weight and run with endurance through him. 

In this life of obedience, I see prayers answered before my eyes. When I left the rugged terrain of Nicaragua after that best day of my life, I asked God a question—put a request before his feet. In that little thing they called an airport, I said, “God, if you let me go and do great things every six months, I’ll be a happy girl.” And you know what? He’s done more than say yes. This trip I’m taking is the third one in 11 months. God is good.

Also, I’ve prayed for a long time to see Tammy Ogden—this favorite missionary of mine—and she prayed too. Now, he’s honored our requests and made our paths mesh on the gospel frontier of El Salvador, where she dwells in the work of God. I might find that it’s my home too—or maybe some people might just find a cozy place in my heart. Anyway, I’m waiting for that moment when I’ll hold her tight on this foreign field; I think there will be a firework show going off in my heart. It’ll be lovely growing and learning and living by her side for maybe only 9 days. But these 9 days are going to be full of Jesus—and he will be enough, even if the time is not.

He’s also aligned this friendship that’s growing wings and taking flight next Friday too. After many long Sundays, sitting all alone, He’s provided a friend for me & growing love in my heart for another lovely daughter of His. And I’m only too excited to see where he takes us & how our threads get intertwined across his heart over time; I know we’ve got more than 9 days to grow in love and life together.

This trip—in this time shared with this woman and friend of mine—is a gift from God. And I’m going to learn not to take it lightly. I’m going to live and grow and love in these 9 days spent in El Salvador. I might be giving up another part of me, & this world might be growing a few thousand miles wider, but it’s going to be great, because I know he’s standing by my side. And he will never let me go.

This is me, a #HappyGirlGoingHome.

Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured from sinners such hostility against himself, so that you may not grow weary or fainthearted. (Hebrews 12:1-3 ESV)