Sunday, January 30, 2011

to be known is to be loved

Yesterday, I read my favorite Bible story in John 4:4-42. This story recounts the time Jesus spent with a Samaritan woman at the well. There are so many things I love about this story. The Lord has used its beautiful message many times to speak to my heart in various ways through the years. But what I came back to yesterday was the fact that the Samaritan woman rejoiced because she was known. 

Oftentimes, people are afraid to come to the Lord because of this very fact-He knows everything. But this fact is what makes life with Him so wonderfully free. The enemy wants us to believe that we should be ashamed of our past, present, and future sin and struggles. But the Word tells us that there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus (Romans 8:1). Yes, we have messed up, and we will continue to mess up, because we are human. But our goal is not to please man, or even to please ourselves. Our goal is to please the one who made us and loves us and knows us with an intimacy deeper than we can imagine or fathom. And that, my friends, is good news. 

He loves us. 
He loves me. 
He loves you! 

And He is longing to be known and loved right back. The God of the universe wants us to know Him in the way that He knows us. With deep intimacy and a passion that burns within and then touches every aspect of our lives- internally and externally. The knowledge of His love is worth running back to town and telling everyone about. The Samaritan woman was surprised at the depth in which Jesus knew her, and that is why she told everyone about Him. And yet He loved her. Without condemnation. This kind of love, without condemnation and fear, is what changed her life, and consequently, the lives of an entire village of people!

So often, I find myself thinking, planning, and dreaming about things that I want for the future. These things are not bad or evil in and of themselves, but when I place them on a sort of a pedestal, I am making my own golden calf, hoping for some kind of fulfillment from something or someone apart from the living God

The life He gives is abundant. The water He gives is living water, which enables us to worship Him in spirit and truth (John 4:23-24). Why keep searching when He has made Himself available to us? What could be better than living with complete reckless abandon in surrender to the awesome story which He wrote for us before time began?

There is nothing like His love. 

Saturday, January 29, 2011

i love my life

If you had told me a year ago today that I would be living in Chihuahua, teaching ten beautiful children, speaking quasi-fluently in Spanish, and making friends with some of the most fun Mexican people around, I would have laughed in your face. Or at least looked at you with incredulity. But alas, here I am. Exactly where I am meant to be. 

My beautiful friend from church, Rocio.

Friends at the house for a game night. 

 Praise God from whom all blessings flow.

Monday, January 24, 2011

add to the beauty

We come with beautiful secrets
We come with purposes written on our hearts, written on our souls
We come to every new morning
With possibilities only we can hold, that only we can hold

Redemption comes in strange place, small spaces
Calling out the best of who we are

And I want to add to the beauty
To tell a better story
I want to shine with the light
That's burning up inside

It comes in small inspirations
It brings redemption to life and work
To our lives and our work
It comes in loving community
It comes in helping a soul find it's worth

Redemption comes in strange places, small spaces
Calling out the best of who we are

And I want to add to the beauty
To tell a better story
I want to shine with the light
That's burning up inside

This is grace, an invitation to be beautiful
This is grace, an invitation
Redemption comes in strange places, small spaces
Calling out our best

And I want to add to the beauty
To tell a better story
I want to shine with the light
That's burning up inside

-Lyrics by Sara Groves

Saturday, January 22, 2011

i cannot wait to read this book

One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voskamp, Excerpt                                                            

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

overwhelmed

Taste and see that the Lord is good.
      Oh, the joys of those who take refuge in him! - Psalm 34:8

Has your heart ever been overwhelmed with the love of the Lord? Because mine is. How can I not live each day to love and serve Him when He has blessed me in abundance and loved me with a love so pure, rich, and good? Oh, how He loves us. 


Monday, January 17, 2011

celebrating MLK

There is more to celebrate on MLK Day besides the fact that there is no school. Martin Luther King, Jr. was a wonderful man from whom much can be learned. Here are some thought-provoking quotes from the man himself:

He who passively accepts evil is as much involved in it as he who helps to perpetrate it. He who accepts evil without protesting against it is really cooperating with it.  

Human progress is neither automatic nor inevitable... Every step toward the goal of justice requires sacrifice, suffering, and struggle; the tireless exertions and passionate concern of dedicated individuals. 

Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.  

Life's most persistent and urgent question is, 'What are you doing for others?' 

Nothing in all the world is more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity.

Proverbs 13:12

Hope deferred makes the heart sick,
      but a dream fulfilled is a tree of life.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

home is the where heart is

So many thoughts have been on my heart and mind that I want to share with y'all. Bear with me, because I might start rambling here. 

On December 18, 2010, I embarked on a journey home. My expectations for all of the things and people were, I admit, quite high. I had a "Christmas bucket list" that I had been working on for a couple months as I thought about various things I wanted to do, places I wanted to go, and people with whom I wanted to reunite. This bucket list, was, of course, composed to fulfill my longings and make my three week stay in the States perfect. 


Yet my time was not perfect (surprise, surprise). Don't get me wrong, I greatly enjoyed spending time with my family being silly. I loved being able to meet with friends and know that they understand every word I am saying. The time I spent with friends just being with one another was priceless. It was such a blessing for me to be able to return to places in which I had been molded and stretched. There were moments in which I just had to sit back and think, "Who would I be without this person or this place?" 


And yet I found myself feeling somewhat out of place in certain circumstances. For instance, I missed things about Mexico that I have grown to love and appreciate. At the grocery store and Walmart, there is always music playing as I shop; it's like a party. I missed the sweet old men who load my groceries into my car for me and want to practice their English. I missed real guacamole. It seems as though Mexico has found a way into my heart in new ways that I had not anticipated. 


Over and over again, as I navigated through reunions in Marietta and Athens, Georgia, and Columbia and Manning, South Carolina, I kept wondering to myself, where do I call home? My "home" in Marietta is comprised of my immediate family and dear friends with whom I grow up at church. My "home" in Athens is comprised of dear friends from church, school, and camp. My "home" in Chihuahua is comprised of friends from the mission and from church. And yet where do I belong? What place has my heart? In many ways, I feel at home driving from place to place all over metro-Atlanta. And yet my heart was about to jump out of my chest as I made my way down familiar country roads to Watkinsville to return to the church that I chose on my own. Furthermore, my heart was glad to return to sunny, bright, and warm Chihuahua and my cold little yellow house.


And so I have come to a conclusion. I do not have a "home" here on this earth that can be determined geographically with lines of latitude and longitude. In many ways, my home is where my heart belongs. Little pieces of my heart belong to so many people. There are pieces of my heart in Marietta, where I grew up and found community with a beautiful group of girls who really know me. There are pieces of my heart in Athens and Watkinsville, where I spread my wings and began to know and understand myself more. There are pieces of my heart in Chihuahua, where I embarked on a new journey and learned even more about who I am in Christ. 


But ultimately, my home is in Christ. He holds together all of those pieces where I have sown my seeds. He is my home, because He made me. He knows me deeply and intimately. He is my home. And He is all I need. He is more than enough. He holds my heart.





Friday, January 14, 2011

do you feel like a lowly worm?

Why would you ever complain, O Jacob,
   or, whine, Israel, saying,
"God has lost track of me.
   He doesn't care what happens to me"?
Don't you know anything? Haven't you been listening?
God doesn't come and go. God lasts.
   He's Creator of all you can see or imagine.
He doesn't get tired out, doesn't pause to catch his breath.
   And he knows everything, inside and out.
He energizes those who get tired,
   gives fresh strength to dropouts.
For even young people tire and drop out,
   young folk in their prime stumble and fall.
But those who wait upon God get fresh strength.
   They spread their wings and soar like eagles,
They run and don't get tired,
   they walk and don't lag behind. 
-Isaiah 40:27-31, The Message


"But you, Israel, are my servant.
   You're Jacob, my first choice,
   descendants of my good friend Abraham.
I pulled you in from all over the world,
   called you in from every dark corner of the earth,
Telling you, 'You're my servant, serving on my side.
   I've picked you. I haven't dropped you.'
Don't panic. I'm with you.
   There's no need to fear for I'm your God.
I'll give you strength. I'll help you.
   I'll hold you steady, keep a firm grip on you.

Do you feel like a lowly worm, Jacob?
   Don't be afraid.
Feel like a fragile insect, Israel?
   I'll help you.
I, God, want to reassure you.
   The God who buys you back, The Holy of Israel.
I'm transforming you from worm to harrow,
   from insect to iron.
As a sharp-toothed harrow you'll smooth out the mountains,
   turn those tough old hills into loamy soil.
You'll open the rough ground to the weather,
   to the blasts of sun and wind and rain.
But you'll be confident and exuberant,
   expansive in The Holy of Israel! 
-Isaiah 41: 8-10,14-16 The Message

Thursday, January 13, 2011

grace

"Sometimes grace manifests as synchronicity-its energy brings together people or events in a soothing, helpful, or dramatic way when you most need it and least expect it. At other times grace is the energy that suddenly illuminates us with understanding, allowing us to see what we had not been able to grasp before. Grace can also lift us into an altered state of consciousness in which we feel suffused by an unfamiliar energy -an indescribable combination of love, hope, and fearlessness." ~Caroline Myss

Monday, January 10, 2011

what a joy!

This email came my way a few days ago, and I just had to share it with y'all. I read it to my class this morning, and they were ecstatic, especially when they heard that one of the new schools is in Mexico. :) Enjoy! God is so good!

Dear Jessica,
On behalf of Franklin Graham, thank you so much for the recent gift from your students to help with our School Construction Projects.  We loved hearing about all the creative ways the students raised funds, and we know they must have been thrilled to reach their goal of $250.  I am glad to tell you more about these projects and where we have work underway.
Samaritan's Purse works in many developing nations to provide school facilities and educational opportunities for children.  In northern Vietnam, we discovered there were few schools for the Hmong people.  In the past 5 years, we have built 33 primary school buildings as well as several kindergarten classes.  In Ethiopia and the Darfur region of Sudan, we have constructed and furnished temporary classrooms so that children displaced by conflict will not fall behind in their studies.  After a devastating cyclone struck Myanmar in 2008, many schools and other buildings were destroyed.  Local agencies do not have the capacity to rebuild, so we stepped in to help provide schools for communities who lost their buildings in the cyclone.
In the coming months, we plan to begin school construction projects in Mexico, Liberia, and the Democratic Republic of Congo.  In a small community near Villahermosa, Mexico, we are planning to construct a new school building, and in a rural community deep in Liberia, we are preparing to construct a small school building.  A church partner in the Democratic Republic of Congo has started an outreach to young children by running a preschool, and we will help the church replace their small thatched building with a more permanent structure. 
Thank you again for helping to coordinate this gift from your students.  If anyone has additional questions, feel free to contact me again and I will be glad to share some more information about how this project is helping to transform people’s lives.  May God continue to bless you as you seek to bless others.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

be thou my vision

Be Thou my vision, O Lord of my heart
Naught be all else to me, save that Thou art
Thou my best thought by day or by night
Waking or sleeping Thy presence my light
 
Be thou my wisdom and Thou my true word
I ever with Thee and Thou with me, Lord
Thou my great Father, I , Thy true son
Thou in me dwelling and I with Thee one
 
Riches I heed not nor man's empty praise
Thou mine inheritance now and always
Thou and thou only first in my heart
High King of heaven my treasure Thou art

High King of heaven my victory won
May I reach heaven's joys, O bright heaven's Sun
Heart of my own heart whatever befall
Still be my vision O Ruler of all

home for the holidays

Holiday Highlights
 Oh, there’s no place like home for the holidays,
For no matter how far away you roam -
When you long for the sunshine of a friendly gaze,
For the holidays - you can’t beat home, sweet home!


More details to come...

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