Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Great Is Thy Faithfulness

I absolutely love this hymn, because it encompasses my most favorite characteristic of the Lord- his faithfulness. He is always faithful. Always. Even when I am not. I am so grateful for that, and I don't think I'll ever get over it. He is faithful to the end.

Great is Thy faithfulness, O God my Father;
There is no shadow of turning with Thee;
Thou changest not, Thy compassions, they fail not;
As Thou hast been, Thou forever will be.

Great is Thy faithfulness!
Great is Thy faithfulness!
Morning by morning new mercies I see.
All I have needed Thy hand hath provided;
Great is Thy faithfulness, Lord, unto me!

Summer and winter and springtime and harvest,
Sun, moon and stars in their courses above
Join with all nature in manifold witness
To Thy great faithfulness, mercy and love.

Pardon for sin and a peace that endureth
Thine own dear presence to cheer and to guide;
Strength for today and bright hope for tomorrow,
Blessings all mine, with ten thousand beside! 




 



Monday, September 26, 2011

the list

So lately I have been doing a lot of reading. I have been doing a lot of thinking and praying. And the Lord is doing something oh so wonderful in my heart...He is giving me joy that is truly unspeakable. I'm not the happiest I've ever been in my life; happiness is fleeting. But I can say that I feel as though this is the most joy I have ever had in my life. As though God is doing something wonderful and preparing me for something much greater than I could ever imagine. It is a thrilling and terrifying experience at the same time. But I cling to the fact that He is good.

In all of my reading, I stumbled upon a new blog that I really like. Now I will say that I do not complete agree with everything the author says or the way in which she says it, but one thing I like is that she is not putting up a front, and she writes honestly. One thing that a contributor to her Good Women Project wrote about was that while she is single, she wants to make the most of her time. And even though everyone and their brother/sister/cousin/neighbor/best friend/roommate is getting engaged, married, and/or having babies or trying to set me up for eternal marital bliss, I am quite contented where I am...waiting on the Lord. I love living on my own. My friends are the bomb. I love my family. He has been good to me. And He will continue to be good to me. I know I can trust in Him for every single thing.

Thus, my list. The author of this post on the Good Women Project made a list. A goals and objectives list, if you will. Why spend my (hopefully) limited time single pining away for Mr. Darcy Mr. Right when the Bridegroom speaks unconditional love over me each morning and brings me new mercies and unspeakable joy in His presence? There are so many things I want to do- places I want to go, people I want to know better, hobbies I want to try. I've always been a dreamer. And what time better than now to begin pursuing these things? I am not less of a person because I am unmarried. The Lord will fulfill His purpose for me; He will not abandon me. So I thought about just what it is I want to do with this precious gift of time I have been given, and this is what I came up with, in no particular order:

  • Read, read, read: at least one book a month
  • Write, write, write: at least 2 blog posts a week
  • Read through the Bible at least once
  • Run another half marathon (preferably this one)
  • Learn how to make a good pot of coffee
  • Submit my writing somewhere online
  • Learn how to be hospitable by sharing my home and what the Lord has entrusted me with to others
  • Take a trip by myself
  • Have one unplugged day: 24 hours without phone, internet, TV
  • Try one new recipe a month and cook for myself at least once a week (Lean Cuisines don't count, but The Pioneer Woman does!)
  • Become a woman of prayer
  • Truly invest in the ones I love
  • Get a new haircut (It really is about time...)
  • Learn to play the guitar well
  • Disciple middle, high school, and/or college girls
  • Give to those who can give nothing back
So that's it. Let's see what the Lord does. 


What I'm currently claiming. If anyone is in Christ, the old has gone, the new has come!

Millers Take Chiwas Days 5 and 6...finally

I feel like it was so long ago that my parents were here, but it has barely been two weeks. :( And now we have to wait until Christmas to see one another again! But I know the time will fly. Anyways, our last full day together was so much fun. My principal, Steve, is quite the history buff; he also teaches history at school, and he took us where we wanted to go on Monday. We saw so many things and received quite a few interesting history lessons.

Ready for yet another day of sightseeing

The first stop was the cathedral downtown. Steve filled us in on all kinds of interesting facts about the architecture and age of the building, as well as the Catholic culture here. There were people scattered through the pews praying inside, as there always are. The cathedral itself was a construction project that lasted more than 100 years and is breathtaking to behold. One could spend hours and hours inside and outside of the cathedral attempting to take in each nook and cranny, and it would not suffice.

Each time I look at it, I see something new.

The small side chapel.


So. many. pigeons.

Soooo happy!!!


After the cathedral, we visited the museum of religious of religious art, which was quite interesting. The paintings depicted Jesus (and the rest of the figures) in such a rather solemn way. None of the paintings made me want to jump for joy, but rather made me quite sad. There was no joy at all, even in the birth of Christ. I won't get on my soapbox, though...

This is the birth of Jesus. His hair seems quite fair for a Jew...


We continued walking downtown after the cathedral and did a little more shopping in the artisan shop we had visited on Saturday. Then, we visited Pancho Villa's house. This home is, in a word, huge. His late wife, Luz, was a woman of great renown and influence, and she lived there until she died. The home has rooms full of intriguing artifacts, the car in which he was assassinated, guns, war uniforms, and even its own chapel!

Huge.

Mom and Pancho = chums.

The chapel inside the house.

After Pancho Villa's house, we went to my favorite place in the city, the Deportiva. This place is magical to me, because it is green. And it is where I run. Well, where I used to run. Anyways, my parents had to see it, because I was spending a lot of my time here. We visited the new gym there and looked at all of the sad trees that were made into benches after big freeze. I could spend so much time at the Deportiva. I love that place. What I loved even more was finally being able to share it with my parents.

An example of a bench made from a dead tree stump. :(

When we walked around for a whole morning, we worked up quite the appetite, so I introduced my parents to La Sierra pizza. This restaurant is a new franchise in town that orginated in CuauhtĂ©moc, where there is a large Mennonite community. The Mennonites have this amazingly delicious cheese that they are famous for, and it is on the deliciously wonderful pizza that we enjoyed on Monday. 

My parents with Steve outside of La Sierra.

Upon our return to the guest house, we rested. We finally finished watching Christy, with which I had become obsessed after reading the book this summer and borrowing the series from my friend Lisa. My parents had watched the series when it was actually on during the mid-90's. Good stuff, folks. They always do away with the stuff on tv that is actually worth watching, I tell you. 

Wednesday morning, we packed up and shipped out bright and early since my parents' flight was at 8:30. It was sad to see them go, but my heart was so full that I could not allow myself to get too upset. We had truly enjoyed a wonderful time together, and I was so grateful for the gift of them being there. Everyone kept telling me that I looked so contented when they were here, and I truly was. And still am. I mean, Christmas is just around the corner. :)

At the airport. Until Christmas! :) I love them so much.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Yahweh

So I know that you are all waiting with bated breath to find out what happens when the Millers Take Chiwas, Day 5. I'm sure of it. But life has gotten in the way and I have not found the time and energy to sit down and write about it. How is tomorrow Friday? Right now I should be working on progress reports, but I decided to take a little break and share this song with y'all. My BFFL Lyndsey sent it to me this morning, and I love it. Yahweh is one of my favorite names of God. Enjoy. :)



Gaze, I want to Gaze at You
Soak, soak in all You do
Sit so simply at Your feet
Listen to Your voice so sweet

And let time pass away as I simply praise

Yahweh, my Lord I cry
Jehovah Elohim, the Lord Most High
And when my hands are raised, my knees, they fall
As I simply praise, Jehovah

Cry as I see Your blood stains
Overwhelmed as I see Your pain
And I'll dance, dance, dance because I am set free
You are my conqueror, Jehovah Nissi

So let time pass away as I simply praise

Yahweh, my Lord I cry
Jehovah Elohim, the Lord Most High
And when my hands are raised, my knees, they fall
As I simply praise, Jehovah

Do I believe that You're my God
That You're all I need, that you're all I need?
Do I believe that You'll sit down
And be crowned my king for eternity?

Do I believe that You're my God
That You're all I need, that you're all I need?
Do I believe that You'll sit down
And be crowned my king for eternity?

Do I believe that You're my God
That You're all I need, that you're all I need?
Do I believe that You'll sit down
And be crowned my king for eternity?

So let time pass away as I simply praise

Yahweh, my Lord I cry
Jehovah Elohim, the Lord Most High
And when my hands are raised, my knees, they fall
As I simply praise, Jehovah

My Daddy, my Abba, my Best Friend
Yahweh

Monday, September 19, 2011

Millers Take Chiwas Day 4

After a couple busy days, it was time to chill, and that we did on Monday. We got a much later start and headed to lunch at one of my favorite restaurants in town, Chi'hua Tacos y Cortes, with two of my favorite people, Peggy and Linda. Peggy is my mentor teacher, and Linda is also one of the leaders of the high school girls Bible study.



One of Linda's friends is known as "the silver lady," (really, I didn't even get her real name) and we went to her house to check out what she had to sell that day. Turns out she had just gotten back the day before from a trip down south to buy silver to sell here in the city. In her home, an entire room is set up like a little jewelry store, and my mom and I found a few things that we really liked. I also got a few ideas for Christmas gifts. :) After our stop at the silver lady's house, we went to another artisan shop, where there are exquisite dishes, plant pots, numbers for your home, etc. in order to beautify the space you in which you live. While we did not make any purchases, it was fun to wander around the shop and marvel at the craftsmanship.



In the afternoon we rested some more, and then we went to my house for dinner. Later we were treated to dessert and games with Chad and Amanda. Being the perfect hostess that she is, Amanda had made cheesecake brownies for us, complete with delicious ice cream to top it all off. After dessert, we played two games together. We quickly found that Chad, Amanda, and my dad are competitive, while my mom and I just chance it all. The evening was full of laughter and smiles, as all evenings spent with good friends should be.



Sunday, September 18, 2011

Millers Take Chiwas Day 3

Sunday was another wonderful day. I know I must sound like a broken record by now, but it was such a blessing to have my parents here with me. Everyone at church and school keeps telling me that they loved seeing me with them because I looked so content. And I was.

I was especially excited for my parents to come to church with me on Sunday, because I love my church. I have written about it before; this place has been such a refuge and blessing for me here. The people are what make it. The church building itself is fine, but it is the body of Christ that dwells within Capilla Calvario that I love so much and am so encouraged by each week. To receive hugs, kisses, and genuine well-wishes from brothers and sisters always makes my week. I look forward to going there, even when I am tired and would rather lay in bed. These people mean so much to me.

We had already had dinner at my pastor Sean's house on Friday evening (and we forgot to take a picture!) so my parents had already met the famous Rafferty clan. But I was excited for them to meet the rest of my Capilla Calvario family. My friend Pablo led worship that day, which was wonderful, and Sean taught out of Genesis, where we have been for quite some time now. I am loving Genesis more than I ever thought I would, as we are taking time to go through the book verse by verse.

After church, we went to lunch with my neighbors Kevin and Wendy at Los Cedros, which was delicious. My parents were finally able to come over and see my home on Sunday after church, and then we spent some time recuperating before getting ready to go to dinner at my friend Alma's house.

My wonderful neighbors, Wendy and Kevin.

You know these people...
Alma is one of the sweetest women you will ever meet. She has such a beautiful heart and is always talking about what God has done or is doing in her life. At church on Sunday, she invited my parents and I over to dinner. I have been to her house a couple times for meals, and the last time I went I mentioned that my parents were coming to visit me. She and her husband were so excited, and they wanted to be sure that they were able to meet them. And so they did. We went to their home on Sunday evening and had such a good time together. She told them all about how God has worked and is working in her life, and she asked them about their lives back home. The day they left, she called me to ask how I was doing and wanted to make sure I wasn't depressed. An amazing friend she is. She told me that Monday was her birthday, so my parents and I coming over for dinner was like a birthday present from the Lord. Wow. How humbling. It was beautiful for us to just come over and sit with her and learn from her experiences and walk with Him.

Alma, her son Mario, and my parents after a yummy dinner Sunday night.

He truly is a good and faithful God.



Saturday, September 17, 2011

love love love

I took a walk today and was welcomed with the most delightful breeze and a wonderful feeling in the air. Fall is on its way...

Photo cred

Friday, September 16, 2011

Millers Take Chiwas Day 2

Saturday morning was welcomed with adventurous spirits, as we knew we would be spending the day with Barb. She gave us a call and invited us out to her house for her breakfast, to which we eagerly agreed. I had wanted my parents to be able to see Barb's house and the wonders she has done with it since she moved in and pretty much started from the ground up, so I was quite grateful for the invitation. After a delicious breakfast of eggs, waffles, and fresh-squeezed orange juice, we headed out for the beginning of our adventure.

Barb busy getting things ready for breakfast.

There are plenty of options for those who want to be patriotic...

After introducing my parents to Soriana, where I do much of my grocery shopping (and banking at the ATM), we continued on our way downtown. Our first stop was the Governor's Palace. This palace is immense; the walls are covered with murals that portray Mexico's history from the beginning; yet there are still working offices to which people daily report. We walked through the Miguel Hidalgo museum, as well, and saw the beauty of the ancient architecture that characterizes downtown Chihuahua.

Such. a. tourist.

Making new friends in the governor's palace. :)


Being Millers, we had to do some shopping, so we stopped in a couple of the artisan shops and found some treasures for ourselves and family back home. We also ate some delicious tortas while resting in the air conditioning. Barb knows just about everything there is to know about the city, and we were along for the ride.  We went to an overlook of the city on the moutain with the colonel-meaning quite literally the mountain with the statue of the colonel. It was cloudy, but awe-inspiring nonetheless. To look at the city and how it sprawls in every direction for miles and miles never ceases to amaze me. One million people in this city. Many of whom need Jesus. Quite a challenge.

Look at how tiny the little Tarahumara baby sandals are!

Overlooking the endless city


After coming back to the guest house to freshen up and change clothes in about fifteen minutes' time, Dave Wolf picked us up for dinner at he and Olivia's home. Olivia made her famous chicken tortilla soup, and we enjoyed Coldy's ice cream for dessert. Of course. Even though the day was cloudy and we were not going to be able to see a sunset, we set out for downtown, with Mendela's overlook cafe as the final goal in mind. We had just been downtown all day, but seeing it lit up at night for the 16th of September is always magical. Because the Mexican flag's colors are green, white, and red, it looks like Christmas. The fountains were dancing their synchronized dance to the music, and the light of the angel beamed through the city. It was a magical night.

My parents with the Wolfs

Dancing waters

To end the night, we made it to Mendela's, where the service was slow but the laughter was quick. The lights of the city were beautiful, and the conversation was easy. It was another night to remember.

This place has such a great atmosphere.


City of lights


noche de libertad

So last night was our Independence Day party at church, or our Noche de Libertad, meaning Freedom Night. The Lord is so good. I know I say that often and that it may sound trite, but I mean it. He is good! The evening began with a downpour, which is quite uncharacteristic of Chihuahua at this time of year, but oh so characteristic of our Lord to cool things off and freshen things up.

In addition to cakewalks, a salsa contest, and a delicious Mexican potluck dinner, we also were reminded of the truth we find through God's word- that He gives us freedom. His freedom sets us free to pursue righteousness and love Him all the more, and that my friends, is something worth celebrating.

And of course, ¡VIVA MEXICO!

Fatima, Rocio and I in our Mexican costumes.

Amanda, Alma, and Rocio ready to celebrate!



Thursday, September 15, 2011

Millers Take Chiwas Day 1

Friday was our first full day together, and we enjoyed every minute of it. I decided to stay at our mission's guest house with my parents for the sake of convenience, so as I got ready for school and they were rousing from their sleep, I left them with specific instructions about when to come to school and what to pack for my lunch.

My kids were simply inspired by the arrival of Mr. and Mrs. Miller, and they decided that we needed to have a surprise party for them. So that is what we did! The kids planned pretty much everything; we decorated the classroom on Thursday afternoon and then they all signed up to bring something to eat or drink. This party was going to be the best "Welcome to Mexico" party Binimea had ever seen. The kids conspired to bring a Mexican flag, make a Mexican cake, and even dressed up our class mascot, Fuzzy Wuzzy, with Mexican apparel- a poncho, sombrero, burro, mustache, and guitar. I guess they don't mind stereotypes.


The party was scheduled for 11:00 AM, and the sixth graders came running from Mr. Barbier's room at 10:45 with great excitement and anticipation. They were practically dying from the sheer excitement of these new friends coming to their classroom. We made sure everything was in place, turned on mariachi music, and hid. They entered, confetti was thrown, and hearts were glad.



After my mom hugged each one of my students and my dad took pictures with his i-phone, we sat down and talked to them. My kids were quite curious and asked them several questions about their lives and memories of me. We ate, laughed, and enjoyed one another's company. Good times were had by all.



When school was over, we rushed to get changed and headed to the brickyard. I knew that this experience would be something quite different for my parents and also difficult for them to see. They had never come so close to abject poverty before. I was returning to the brickyard for the first time since the beginning of August, and I had missed them all so much.


As we pulled up to our classroom building, the kids swarmed the car as usual, and I got down and swept them up with big hugs and kisses. We went inside, and it warmed my heart to see everyone again. Because Tasha did not have enough help in the nursery, she recruited my mom to help with the babies. This situation was not a big deal for my mom, who loves babies. I was so proud to see her just jump in where she was needed and love on the little ones as their mothers soaked up the Word.


My dad sat in the back of class as I wrote on the white board and then taught about peace. We were learning about the Fruit of the Spirit, and I taught about peace and shared about the peace God has given me in living here in Chihuahua. God is so good. My dad, with his limited Spanish, pretty much knew what I was talking about as I shared about the process in coming down here and his worries about me. God is so faithful.


After class was over, we went outside and were visiting with the ladies and kids. The kids were curious about my parents, and I was catching up with some of the ladies, when all of a sudden, someone came to Linda, said something, and they all went running for the other side of the building. I wasn't quite sure what was going on, and then when I went to the other side I saw. There was a fight. It was over something petty and small, but it was a fight. Two of the men were in a heated discussion, and everyone else was just watching, dumbfounded. Linda and her husband Beto own the land where our classroom building is, and the Lord has done some miraculous things in their hearts through the years. But Beto was upset, and he wasn't backing down.


I watched with amazement (and a little bit of fear) as my dad stepped in and took Beto aside, using his limited Spanish to comfort him and calm him down. He walked with him and took him aside, urging him not to allow the fight to escalate and to think of his wife and children. The Lord is faithful.

My dad was the only man at the brickyard that day. The two other men that normally come are not nearly as physically intimidating as my dad, so the Lord used him to stop what could have been something very ugly. The Lord is faithful.

Please pray for the hearts of the people at the brickyard. Pray that their hearts would be sealed with the love and protection of our Father. There are many hardships and difficulties facing them that we cannot being to imagine. Pray that the truth of God's word would win out win they are approached with false doctrine. Pray that their hearts would be content in Christ alone.

After a very interesting experience at the brickyard, we left, thanking the Lord for His protection and His ways. We enjoyed a scrumptious meal at the Rafferty's house, and then retired for the evening. Isn't He a good God?

Millers take Chiwas Day 0.5

With great excitement and joy, I welcomed my parents to the great state of Chihuahua last Thurdsay evening. They flew from ATL to Houston to Chihuahua, and we made it to the airport right on time to greet them. Olivia and Dave drove me out there to get them, and Olivia was so excited that she thought she saw them on the sidewalk. But alas, they were inside the lobby, and I ran to greet them and was enveloped by their warm hugs and kisses.

Tasha Davis and her kiddos wanted to come and welcome my parents, too, so we had quite a crowd. The little ones were quite shy at first but excited to meet new friends. The drive back to Chihuahua was full of funny travel anecdotes from my parents and comfortable conversation. I was on cloud nine.




Stay tuned for Millers Take Chiwas Day 1! :)

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

so long, farewell

Well, my parents are now gone. The time they were here went by entirely too fast. It was such a blessing to have them here, and I am so grateful that they were able to come down. We had entirely too much fun, and I enjoyed showing them around and laughing at silly family inside jokes with them. They mean the world to me. I will try to do a blog post for each day that they were here so you guys can get a glimpse of the goodness. :)

I just got an email from my dad telling me that they landed safely in Houston, so they should be back in the ATL soon!




Monday, September 12, 2011

truth

Why Men Are Happier People:
Your last name stays the same.
The garage is all yours.
Wedding plans take care of themselves.
Chocolate is just another snack.
You can be President.
You can never be pregnant.
You can wear a white T-shirt to a water park.
You can wear NO shirt to a water park.
Car mechanics tell you the truth.
The world is your urinal.
You never have to drive to another gas station restroom because this one is just too icky.
You don’t have to stop and think of which way to turn a nut on a bolt.
Same work, more pay.
Wrinkles add character.
Wedding dress: $5000. Tux rental: $100.
People never stare at your chest when you’re talking to them.
New shoes don’t cut, blister, or mangle your feet.
One mood all the time.
Phone conversations are over in 30 seconds flat.
You know stuff about tanks.
A five-day vacation requires only one suitcase.
You can open all your own jars.
You get extra credit for the slightest act of thoughtfulness.
If someone forgets to invite you, he or she can still be your friend.
Your underwear is $8.95 for a three-pack.
Three pairs of shoes are more than enough.
You almost never have strap problems in public.
You are unable to see wrinkles in your clothes.
Everything on your face stays its original color.
The same hairstyle lasts for years, maybe decades.
You only have to shave your face and neck.
You can play with toys all your life.
One wallet and one pair of shoes — one color for all seasons.
You can wear shorts no matter how your legs look.
You can ‘do’ your nails with a pocket knife.
You have freedom of choice concerning growing a mustache.
You can do Christmas shopping for 25 relatives On December 24 in 25 minutes.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

grateful

I love having my parents here. Today I saw them receive a well-planned surprise party from my kids. They laughed at Walt's silly jokes as he led games for the elementary children this afternoon. I watched my mom hold a little Tarahumara baby with joy in her smile and light in her eyes. I watched my dad comfort and calm down a man filled with rage at the brickyard as he recovered from a fight. We broke bread with my pastor and his family at the dinner table and shared stories. We watched Christy and laughed at the sheer hilarity that is Cutter Gap. And that was just day one.

On to day two of the Millers in Chiwas tomorrow.

Buenas noches amigos...

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

email from my Mom this morning

Jessi,
I'm so excited I can't sleep. I'm like a kid on Christmas morning.
I love you.
Mommy

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Psalm 18

Psalm 18

For the choir director: A psalm of David, the servant of the Lord. He sang this song to the Lord on the day the Lord rescued him from all his enemies and from Saul. He sang:
 1 I love you, Lord;
      you are my strength.
 2 The Lord is my rock, my fortress, and my savior;
      my God is my rock, in whom I find protection.
   He is my shield, the power that saves me,
      and my place of safety.
 3 I called on the Lord, who is worthy of praise,
      and he saved me from my enemies. 4 The ropes of death entangled me;
      floods of destruction swept over me.
 5 The grave[a] wrapped its ropes around me;
      death laid a trap in my path.
 6 But in my distress I cried out to the Lord;
      yes, I prayed to my God for help.
   He heard me from his sanctuary;
      my cry to him reached his ears.
 7 Then the earth quaked and trembled.
      The foundations of the mountains shook;
      they quaked because of his anger.
 8 Smoke poured from his nostrils;
      fierce flames leaped from his mouth.
      Glowing coals blazed forth from him.
 9 He opened the heavens and came down;
      dark storm clouds were beneath his feet.
 10 Mounted on a mighty angelic being,[b] he flew,
      soaring on the wings of the wind.
 11 He shrouded himself in darkness,
      veiling his approach with dark rain clouds.
 12 Thick clouds shielded the brightness around him
      and rained down hail and burning coals.[c]
 13 The Lord thundered from heaven;
      the voice of the Most High resounded
      amid the hail and burning coals.
 14 He shot his arrows and scattered his enemies;
      his lightning flashed, and they were greatly confused.
 15 Then at your command, O Lord,
      at the blast of your breath,
   the bottom of the sea could be seen,
      and the foundations of the earth were laid bare.
 16 He reached down from heaven and rescued me;
      he drew me out of deep waters.
 17 He rescued me from my powerful enemies,
      from those who hated me and were too strong for me.
 18 They attacked me at a moment when I was in distress,
      but the Lord supported me.
 19 He led me to a place of safety;
      he rescued me because he delights in me.
 20 The Lord rewarded me for doing right;
      he restored me because of my innocence.
 21 For I have kept the ways of the Lord;
      I have not turned from my God to follow evil.
 22 I have followed all his regulations;
      I have never abandoned his decrees.
 23 I am blameless before God;
      I have kept myself from sin.
 24 The Lord rewarded me for doing right.
      He has seen my innocence.
 25 To the faithful you show yourself faithful;
      to those with integrity you show integrity.
 26 To the pure you show yourself pure,
      but to the wicked you show yourself hostile.
 27 You rescue the humble,
      but you humiliate the proud.
 28 You light a lamp for me.
      The Lord, my God, lights up my darkness.
 29 In your strength I can crush an army;
      with my God I can scale any wall.
 30 God’s way is perfect.
      All the Lord’s promises prove true.
      He is a shield for all who look to him for protection.
 31 For who is God except the Lord?
      Who but our God is a solid rock?
 32 God arms me with strength,
      and he makes my way perfect.
 33 He makes me as surefooted as a deer,
      enabling me to stand on mountain heights.
 34 He trains my hands for battle;
      he strengthens my arm to draw a bronze bow.
 35 You have given me your shield of victory.
      Your right hand supports me;
      your help has made me great.
 36 You have made a wide path for my feet
      to keep them from slipping.
 37 I chased my enemies and caught them;
      I did not stop until they were conquered.
 38 I struck them down so they could not get up;
      they fell beneath my feet.
 39 You have armed me with strength for the battle;
      you have subdued my enemies under my feet.
 40 You placed my foot on their necks.
      I have destroyed all who hated me.
 41 They called for help, but no one came to their rescue.
      They even cried to the Lord, but he refused to answer.
 42 I ground them as fine as dust in the wind.
      I swept them into the gutter like dirt.
 43 You gave me victory over my accusers.
      You appointed me ruler over nations;
      people I don’t even know now serve me.
 44 As soon as they hear of me, they submit;
      foreign nations cringe before me.
 45 They all lose their courage
      and come trembling from their strongholds.
 46 The Lord lives! Praise to my Rock!
      May the God of my salvation be exalted!
 47 He is the God who pays back those who harm me;
      he subdues the nations under me
    48 and rescues me from my enemies.
   You hold me safe beyond the reach of my enemies;
      you save me from violent opponents.
 49 For this, O Lord, I will praise you among the nations;
      I will sing praises to your name.
 50 You give great victories to your king;
      you show unfailing love to your anointed,
      to David and all his descendants forever.

Monday, September 5, 2011

what I'm excited about

  1. Cooler mornings and evenings = fall is on its way!
  2. Teaching English to a precious set of twins from church
  3. Break is next week
  4. My parents will be here oh so soon!
  5. Co-leading worship at church
  6. Getting lost in a couple good books over break
  7. Volunteering at the new Tarahumara church plant, El Alfarero (The Potter)
  8. New NeedtoBreathe CD in 15 days
  9. 112 days till Christmas (one of my students informed me this morning)
  10. God is good...all the time

Sunday, September 4, 2011

celebrations

Well, yesterday I went on a run for the first time since the Peachtree.



That's two months without running, folks. Not good. I almost died. So to celebrate my survival, I went out to dinner at Buffalucas and got buffalo wings and fries with ranch. I think I definitely have my priorities straight, don't you?


Thursday, September 1, 2011

circumstances

The Lord has been teaching me a lot about resting in and trusting Him lately, and there is so much on my mind that I want to share with y'all. I am hoping that it doesn't read like one big jumbled mess.

Going into this school year, I was not really sure if I was excited. I did not know how to explain my feelings and emotions towards school when people would ask me, and now as I reflect back to various conversations, I lied a few times because I was not sure of what the truth was. Was I excited, nervous, doubtful? This I know- that I was looking forward to seeing my kids again. I was looking forward to seeing how they had grown over the summer and hearing about their adventures. And I was also excited to share with them about my mini (and many) summer adventures.

Interestingly enough, we often have expectations for situations without realizing. We put pressure on ourselves when we place all of our hope and worth in the prospect of a perfect situation that we have unconsciously (or consciously) dreamed up. I will not lie to you all when I tell you that last year was one of the hardest years of my life. But it was hard in a good way; the Lord was (and still is) refining me. These times, while difficult, have also been some of the sweetest times I have ever had with Him, and I would not give that up for the world.

This week in chapel, we hosted a guest speaker. He and his wife were tribal missionaries in Colombia, and as I sat listening to him as part of a captive audience on Monday morning, the Lord began to show me just how good I have it. Mr. Germann shared about how the tribal people reacted when the "white man" first arrived. They were distrusting and afraid, so they shot poisonous darts at them and treated them with disdain and some, hatred. Yet, the Germann family did not pack up and say, "God, I didn't sign up for this. I'm supposed to be the missionary hero here, and these people hate me." No, they stayed and trusted the Lord. Mr. Germann shared about the myriad of times we allow ourselves to keep our heads in the clouds of our circumstances instead of looking around with God's eyes to see all of the genuinely amazing things He is doing to show us that He loves us, He is for us, and He will never leave us. He is bigger than the circumstances in which I find myself, because He created the universe. How's that for a slice of humble pie?

So often, I find myself looking at my circumstances and thinking, "I didn't sign up for this." But does that matter? No. Does the fact that I am at times unhappy make God look up with eyes of disbelief and suddenly say, "Well, let's fix this!"? No. He cares about me. Immensely. Profoundly. More than I could ever fathom. But my happiness is not in the equation of loving Him and serving Him. His glory is the penultimate goal. In fact, it is the prize. My purpose in being here, and in living, is not to make myself look wonderful and draw people to myself, but rather to Him. He is the goal. He is the prize. He is everything.

The Lord has been so sweet to and patient with me. As I navigate through this quarter-life crisis time  I find myself in, His goodness never ceases to astound me and stop me in my tracks. I just ordered and received the devotional book Jesus Calling, and I highly recommend it. Every morning, the Lord uses the selected Scripture to speak to me in such specific ways. Every day, He reminds me that what I am not, He is. I am not strong. He is. I am not perfect. He is. I am not holy. He is.

I do not know what the Lord has for me beyond this next year in Mexico. I have a few ideas and some things on my heart, but no specific answers nor commitments. Which is funny, because I find myself in the same place I was two years ago during my senior year at UGA. Listening and waiting. I think as life goes on, I will continue to find myself in this place over and over again. It is not necessary for me to have all of the answers right now. What I do know is that I want to be found faithful in the eyes of the Lord, and I want to use the time He has given me wisely. That means that I cannot take my eyes off of Him. I'm so glad He's promised me forever. I wouldn't know what to do without Him.

One part from the song "Praise the Lord" by Kristene Mueller keeps running through my mind. She sings:

And I get to love You through whatever comes.
What a privilege
That I get to love You through whatever comes.
Oh, how sweet it is, 


And nothing's gonna take Your praise out of my mouth
As long as I shall live,
As long as I shall live.


(emphasis mine) 

Yes, I am tired. Yes, I am imperfect. Yes, I am overwhelmed. But I serve the Lord of lords and the King of kings, whose strength never fails and love never ends. And while I live in Chihuahua and will not see many leaves turning this year, I cannot help but think of the beautiful changes characterized by fall. We see leaves flourish and burst with color, and the vibrancy astounds us and stops us in our tracks. I remember walking through campus at UGA and marveling at the wonder of God's creation. There were a few trees in special places that became my favorites, and each year I would wait to see them turn. When leaves turn, they are beautiful. The colors are alive, and they beg you to drink them in. But as fall succumbs to winter, the once beautiful leaves are dead and brown. And yet as we all know, when winter is over (and sometimes it never seems to end) the once dead leaves will return to their once green state as they breathe new life.

In my walk with the Lord, He has brought me through such seasons. The spring holds much hope and promise, and the summer brings new life. Fall is a time of change, while winter brings a hard uncertainty and sometimes, silence. And yet He is God in all things. He is always on His throne. And this, my friends, gives me a hope and a joy unspeakable, which is so much better than fleeting happiness.



I have seen the burden God has placed on us all. Yet God has made everything beautiful for its own time. He has planted eternity in the human heart, but even so, people cannot see the whole scope of God’s work from beginning to end. So I concluded there is nothing better than to be happy and enjoy ourselves as long as we can. 
-Ecclesiastes 3:10-12

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