Peru 2015- The Journey there (October 11,2015) 

On October 11th 2015, I left with a team of seven other people to go on an adventure to serve the Lord. We began our journey with fresh coffee and a flight from Cleveland to Dallas and then into Lima, Peru. 

All flights ran as scheduled and all team members where excited for the moment we touched down in Lima. We rushed to our confirmed flight to Trijllo, Peru. 

NOTE: I said “confirmed flight” at least that’s what the email said just a week earlier. 

So, baggage in hand and clear of customs we stood asking “what do you mean we have no flight?!” The team paused and took a moment to process the fact that we are in Peru and now had no ride to our destination a good 9.5 hours away. 

We (a team mate and I) had researched bus fare and locations as well as airfare while booking flights. So, the team piled into a taxi and when I say taxi I mean a van with two rows of seats. Eight people and fourteen pieces of luggage go screaming off in a Peruvian taxi into Lima traffic. Traffic that puts traffic in every other place I have been to shame. The rules about speed and right of way are mere suggestions, and no one is looking for any suggestions. Just tons of cars, buses, and semis all trying to get where they need to be before anyone else can get there. Have I mentioned I get motion sick pretty easily? A fast twenty minutes later we are at the Plaza Norte bus depot and mall! This place is huge. 

  
Thanks to the amazing cab driver and the friendly people at the Ittza Bus company we get bus tickets for eight. Two hour wait and 9.5 hour bus ride through and up the beautiful desert/ coast area of Peru we arrive at Casa de Monica. The women who’s house we will stay at for the next 7 days.

I have never felt more welcome or more at home so far from home. These nice ladies cooked for us every day and cleaned up after us. (We did our best to pitch in with dishes and may have gotten a great recipe  or two.)

  

We got settled into our new home and got ready for a busy day of ministry work, breakfast is at 7:30am. 

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Life changing choices. Who’s willing to make some?

It has been weeks since I posted so I decided to just sit and write and see what happens. Warning: This could get messy! Let’s talk about choices.
I have been praying as usual to God (that is Jesus Christ for me). I have been seeking guidance and looking for direction. I feel as though there are a thousand things going on in my tiny little world (my brain) and I need to sort them out and make a choice of what to get rid of. I need to identify the things that are distractions and focus on the things that are getting me closer to the end goal. Only problem is I’m not a 100% what the end goal is. I have a good idea of what I think it might be. But, I can’t be 100% certain.
This for obvious reasons makes it difficult to sort out the garbage. I believe that in life we make a collection of choices and these choices make our life what it is. Ok, that’s not just my belief that is a general fact. Some of the choices we make are good for us, and some of the choices are bad for us. Some of us make more good choices and some of us make more bad choices. Most of us make our choices based on what we have learned and where past choices have gotten us. If past behavior seems to have done well for us and we like the direction we are going then we continue to make those choices. But on the flip side, if the choices we are making are leading us in a bad direction we have the MOST important choice to make. Do I continue on this path making these choices that seem to be taking my life down a horrible path? Do I stay where I am because I have become comfortable with failure? Or, do I chance it and risk a different type of failure? Do I step out of my comfort zone where I might get hurt in new ways and the price of failure is a little higher? I now this could be the chance to get out of the failing life I have right now. But, do I really want to risk it?
If anyone has stood at this cross roads you will know what I’m talking about. If you have not than that last paragraph might make no sense to you. I made this choice four years ago. I was tired of knowing exactly what was going to happen and not liking what that was. I would be over worked at work, I would be taken advantage of in relationships, and I would drink and continue to have money problems and a low sense of self worth. I knew that if I continued going the way I was going I would be a slave to this world and all the evil in. I knew I would just be another cog blindly grinding away my life so the machine of the world would function. Not that the world needs me to function. The world will use any one, just look around.
I had thought since I was a child that there was something “out there” calling me and that there was “something” I was “supposed” to do. I can’t explain it. I have always had this internal voice that tells me there is something better and I need to make a choice. I would need to get uncomfortable and not know what the end result would be in order to follow this “calling.” I would need to step out in faith and trust something I can’t see. I would have to change the choices I had made over and over and over and take a new risk.
The important point I want to make I guess is that sometimes we don’t know where we are going. It doesn’t mean we won’t get there. Ever since I started to allow God into my life and started listening to Him, things have gotten down- right exciting and thrilling. I may not know 100% where I am headed but, I know where I have been.
My old choices got me to a place where I was drunk and miserable packing up my apartment by candle light because the power had been shut off, after my husband left, writing in my journal while praying for a way out of my misery. Pretty sure that was a turning point for me. It’s sad how far we have to fall before we are willing to look up for help. The person I had been the first 30 some years of my life was not the person God intended me to be. That was the person the world wanted me to be. Deceived by fear and trapped by the world’s ideals of how we should be. Work like crazy, make money, do better than your neighbor, compete for attention, have better things then everyone, brag about your vacations and try to out-perform every one, then get drunk on the weekends to celebrate your victorious week of labor and one upping everyone. How exhausting!
My new choices have taken me to the other side of the world, yes literally. They have helped me form some of the greatest friendships. I have been given my self-worth back (something that I don’t know if I ever really had) and an identity that I never knew was inside of me. The person I have been becoming the past four years is the person God wanted me to be from the beginning. Ironically, I don’t know that I would be this person had I not faced the demons of the last 33 years.
Even though the fear of change and making choices you may not understand might seem terrifying and not logical. It has proven to be the best choice of my life. Even if you’re a person who doesn’t follow God make some new choices and take a chance and see what happens. While you’re doing that ask God to give you some strength and courage to reach your full potential. Even if you don’t follow Him (God) he will listen to you. How awesome is that! My relationship with God started as a screaming match with the air. A very one sided screaming match I might add. I lost my patience with life and knew there was something more. I could feel it. I screamed that if He (God) was really there then He better show Himself and show me what it was He wanted from me. Sounds dramatic I know but, that’s how it started for me. I tell people sometimes that even if you’re screaming at a God you don’t believe it, it is better than ignoring one you do believe in. It took many years to change the habit I once had and it took work on my part to be willing to step out into scary places and become willing to change. I had to walk away from a lot of people that were not good for me at the time. They individually are great people. But, having them being in my life at that time was no longer good for me. Some of the choices you must make to start heading in the right direction can be very difficult and hard to stick with. I personally couldn’t do it myself. I need God, and people who follow Him to help me through the journey of turning my life around. Nothing happens over night. Everything in life comes about from one small choice made one after another over time.
So, I will end with a question and you can make the choice.
Do you want to stay as you are today?
Are there things that you want to do with your life that you’re afraid to step out in faith and do?
Are you willing to step out of your comfort zone to do them?

What’s Next? 

I find myself asking this question very frequently. Now, that I did that, what’s next? Now, that I am here, what do I do next? Now, that, that didn’t go like I saw it happening what do I do?  What’s Gods will in this. Where am I going?

What’s next????!!!!!

So, for those who know me you know I tried to get a job in Alaska and that I planned on leaving around now. I made special arrangements in my life and started to prepare my mind and spirit to take a great adventure. I want to go on a huge epic cross country journey and I want to see everything in this world the eye can see.

But, only if God can use me while I do it and only if He is blessing my journey and only when He is lining up the events. So, I planned and prayed and interviewed and saved and got rid of stuff I didn’t need and researched Alaska and learned what I could. I abandon some more of the “things” I had knowing I wouldn’t have them there. I felt the “call” to simplify my life and my living. I felt the URGE to PURGE!

I prayed and God showed me meaning in the things I was doing. I was paying down debt and setting aside money for my journey to Alaska. I had people praying and offering their encouragement and advice. To say I was very very excited would be an understatement. I thought I had found the next step.

Well, I was right and wrong.

It was the next step but the step wasn’t heading in the direction I thought. I thought the steps I was taking would lead me to Alaksa. I thought that time there would give me a mix of adventure and independence, a renewed reliance on God and I would become better at speaking to groups of people would gain experience with people from all around the world and would learn about myself also become a better and more confident leader and teacher of Gods word by being with people who aren’t church goers. I thought it was a chance for God to grow me and use me in a place outside the church where its more needed. And biblically what He calls us all to do.

Although these things may have all happened had I gotten the job and gone. I didn’t get the job and non of them happened. However, it was still the next step.

Going through the process WAS the next step. But, instead of ending in Alsaka the next step left me standing in Ohio say “I trust you God. I know you have a plan, I don’t need to know what it is. I will continue to trust you.” And this time I really meant it.

My faith is easy to “maintain” when I feel Gods presents. It’s easy to be excited about Jesus and trust His words when it is going exactly the way you are feeling He is telling you it will go. But, what is it like when it doesn’t. What is my faith like when the building you were sure you would be running a world changing ministry out of gets sold? What is my faith like when I “know” I’m going somewhere and then I’m not. What is my faith like when I feel God telling me things that I know are true but I can’t see when they will happen or how in the world they will come about. How is my faith then?!

STRENGTHENED

My faith is strengthened during those times. When I see what’s next and end up in a different place then I thought.  When I trust in the Lord and let go and release my fear and see things from His perspective even when doubt tries to creep in, even when storms come and when people look at you like your crazy. These are the moments God strengthens me. These are the times that if you cling to Him, your life, your heart and your mind will be changed by Him.

Since I left my “real job” over a year ago, almost nothing has turned out or gone like I saw it. Almost nothing has been accomplished according  to my measure of success and accomplishment. And almost everything has changed in my life.

What hasn’t changed:

  • The vision of where God wants me. He wants me with people close to them talking to them.
  • Using my story to inspire and motivate them to do what they love for God.
  •  The vision for the coffee house with ministry involvement a great place to hang out and talk about life and love and our Father.
  • The vision of people coming together to encourage one another and to do it passionately and willingly and live free from the traps of what the world thinks we should act and be like.

What has changed:

  • I have no building for this coffee shop.
  • I have no idea even where it should go, it could go anywhere. I have no idea how it comes together. I once was sure I knew exactly how to do it and even had the building. I don’t even know who I will be working with, who will partner with me and who we will effect.
  • I have deeper faith and a closer walk with God
  • I have more wisdom, integrity and reliance on God

Yet, more has been accomplished on Gods timeline then I even dared to imagine myself.

Through the last year I thought the coffee house would be up and running. But, in turn God tought me how much work would be needed to make it actually happen. God has blessed me with building a network of people around me who love Him and believe in the vision He has given me and we continue  to pray. I thought this blog would have a bunch of people reading it and following it and I would have massive amounts of wisdom poured out into its contents about how God makes the impossible possible. Instead, I have eight followers. And hardly any posts. Mainly because the things God has been doing are so intricately woven and elaborately put together I can hardly explain them in person let alone articulate them here in words. His blessings have been so overwhelming and He has worked even my little missteps into good things and made them a part of His plan. As far as wisdom goes. He has given me enough to know that my words here are not the thing that will bring people hope and bring people the inspiration they need to follow Him passionately. He has given me the wisdom that it is the actions I take every minute of every day that will accomplish His will for my life. My words could be eloquent (which I don’t believe them to be) they could be impactful and full of wisdom, but  without the action and without living them out myself they are just facts on how to be. They aren’t Gods will and Grace lived out.

By now I thought I might have met “the one” for me. A ministry partner a companion a husband. But, He has grown me to see He is the one who completes me. He has made me just as He wants me and for His purpose. I still desire a companion one day but am no longer defined by that desire. He has tought me to focus on Him and everything else will be right.

So, in retrospect I think I put some unrealistic time lines on things. As humans I feel we pressure our selves to fit things in by a dead line. Married by 30 a house and kids and a great career by 35. Whatever, your own personal timeline may be. We plot this line out with the world in mind. The social norms and status quos. We chart our path we aim high and then we practically kill ourselves with our own expectations as we hold our progress up to them as if they are a ruler of truth.

I was so far off! I wasn’t even close to knowing how things are measured. Time and success two things that take perspective to define.

The world sees time as days, nights, work time and weekend time. Even people in church compartmentalize their “service” time and “home” time, “work” time.

Success is guaged by comparison, do you have more or less stuff then you had last year. Are you making “progress”? Is your car, job, paycheck and  friendships “better” or higher paying then last year.

How does God see time and success? Time is infinite  (what’s the hurry?) time is on your side and God can do amazing things with us in the time He has given us.

What is successful to God? Well, I know He cares about all we do. I know He wants us to prosper and it is ok to have goals and reach them. It’s good to have direction and be really into things we love. But, where is your heart in your striving? Are you doing these things for His glory or yours? These are things I ponder and pray about frequently.

I can’t define what God sees successful as but I know it is an individual thing and He made us all to be wonderful at the things He has made us good at. He doesn’t compare, we are all beautiful and unique to Him and His definition of success I would think would be just as unique for each of us.

So, as we all search for meaning and purpose and we all look for the next step, I feel the need to say that whatever you do, don’t just stand still waiting in fear of the “wrong” choice being made. If you know something is the right step and deep inside you can feel it! Just do it!!!! Even if you don’t know why even if you think it’s crazy, even if you can’t see or explain where it is leading. Be adventurous take a chance and leap into your faith. God will bless it and God will lead you through it.

So, has my journey this far been anything like I thought it would be? Absolutely not! What would I change? Not a single moment! And I mean that. Even the rough nasty little tidbits. The moments I rather give up and walk away. And I have had a few. Even the moment laying in bed crying out to God “I trust you. I don’t actually believe that right now and you know I want to, help me believe more cause I can’t see you.”  “I know your there, I refuse to let my doubt get in the way of trusting you.”

It gets hard sometimes. Trying to listen to God with the still small voice He has. It’s hard to quiet the noise in my mind to hear Him. It’s hard to do things that seem crazy or unnessesary to other people. Some have even said “don’t you think that’s kinda extreme?” But, in the end, He quiets the mind if you ask sincerely, He even speaks louder if requested, and He eventual shows the doubter and haters your not nuts. Or at the very least He helps you stop caring what they think.

So what’s the next step? Mongolia, to teach English. Do I have a bunch of things in my head that would explain why? Of course I do. And I can guarantee I would be way off. I have no idea.

Time to pray, prepare and trust. I thank the Lord for all he blessed me with and for the amazing things He leads me to do. Such an exciting adventure my life is turning out to be and all I had to do was to take the next step in faith.

House Sitting Retreat – Day 3 – God vs Man intro

Thu Nov 13 2014 – 10:02:18 AM

House sitting Retreat- Day 3- God vs Man intro

Bay Village, OH 44140, USA

I have been blessed by being offered a friends home to stay in while they are away on a mission trip to South Aftrica. He will be gone sixteen days. I plan to use as many of those days as possible to draw closer to God and pray about the many things floating in the infinite space between my ears. Yesturday, I planned a day of solitude. No phone, no Facebook, no use of my Bible app, no internet not even my dictionary app. It was not easy. It seemed every few minutes I was wanting to reach for my phone to look something up. Not that that is a bad thing. I just wanted a day relying on God. I must say it only left me wanting more. I have had a difficult time writing for the past few months and that seems to have ended. I wrote fourteen pages in my journal yesterday. God spoke to me and ever so gentley showed me a few areas that I will be refined in. I started with prayer of course and then some time writing down all that came to mind. That is generally a lot of stuff. If you know me personally you are probably wondering how I wrote it all down. Easy answer, I couldnt! My mind gets so full sometimes with all the things I think I need to figure out and think I should know. Problems that arent mine that I think I need to find the solution to. Future plans and how they play out run through my mind as though by thinking about them I can 100% tell the outcome! Just by thinking them through! Such power I must have. And if you want a quick way to talk yourself out of doing anything I suggest you do the same. Think about what you want to do and then think out every step think of every obstacle and how imposible the task seems and give up before you start. Most important step, pay attention- dont ask God a thing. Make your plans and then later when your crying about how you arent where you should be, cry out for Him to help, for Him to save you. This was my pattern for years! The God of convenience, there when I had no other options. The place I went last, when I felt no hope. Now, fast forward through years of heartache. Fast forward through trials-a-plenty and stubborn prayers demanding my way and my Will be done. Fast forward past the pain, the anger, the entitled feelings, the feelings of lose and anguish over a life that shouldnt have started. Or, so I had thought from time to time. Now, put God where He belongs. First, formost, your go to, your rock, your strength, the most perfect and beautiful resting place for your tired soul. Ask Him first, ask Him how, ask Him why and why not, ask Him who, ask Him anything. Just, ask. Believe, ask, receive. That is the messsge I so clearly am getting while spending this time with God on my mini retreat. And even more important I have been shown what holds me back from believeing and keeps me from asking. Man- Not men, this is not about to turn into a man bashing feminist rant. But MAN as in mankind. Humans, people, men and woman, boys and girls, saints and sinners. Man, keeps me from God the most. Hold the phone, I am surrounded by “believers” , I listen to nothing but Christian music, I read the Bible daily and am in “fellowship” with strong believers most of the time Im with people. How could my fellow Christians get between me and God. How can my biggest idol be man? ! I was shocked too! I will continue this a little later.