Peru continued….  

First morning, we woke up to the smell of breakfast and new friends. We had a small three person team from Philadelphia joining us for the week.

It was a very busy week of work. It’s hard sometimes to look back on a trip and write. And almost impossible to write (at least for me) while on a trip. Instead if giving a play by play and every detail of each day I think I would rather keep this simple and to the point.

God spoke to me while in Peru. I watched very dedicated people persevering through things I cant imagine. I can’t image starting a children’s ministry in a cleared away section of a giant garbage dump. Among the smell of burning trash and dirt and grim. The day we rode into ELIM was one I will never forget. Like I mentioned in my last post about Peru, I get motion sick. We rode into ELIM on a very bumpy dirt/ garbage road. People who had been before said ELIM is an oasis, they said it was beauty in the midst of decay. And I must say, I didn’t see it. Not at first. I was getting motion sick and then we picked up a ton of children and they piled into the bus, triggering my minor cloister phobia . Bumping down the road I tried to smile and hide the fact that I thought I might lose my lunch any minute. We get to ELIM and the children get off the bus, my panic starts to subside a tiny bite and then I smell the dump. My eyes welled up and my stomach churned. I felt nauseous and like I was in the wrong place.

My mind, well my mind was talking to God. Are you kidding why is this all about me right now?  Help me suck it up and be happy and have joy for these children. God how can I be thinking of me right now how selfish am I? I was very distracted while there and during many other ministry activities we participated in during our week of service in Peru. God revealed my selfishness and self centirdness. He helped me see this in other areas of my life and the need for change in my heart. He taught me about focusing on Him and how he sees everyone.

I saw the perseverance of the couple doing ministry together and was deeply touched and it ministered directly to my soul. Seeing this couple singing with the children and dancing and sharing so much joy with them helped my heart change and become totally different. It was in that moment I saw the oasis everyone had told me about. The beauty among the decay and black smoke.

I feel like my experience with them helped to replace my heart. Like God reached out and took my old nasty encased in steal heart and replaced it with the new caring, mushy, vulnerable heart. One that cares and loves more and better then I ever thought I could or would want to. I felt this change start before I left and this just finished the job.

So, my trip to Peru was amazing and life changing . We helped a few amazing ministries and now they have a building that’s painted and some new sports equipment. They have more people who will probably be helping on a long term basis and they can better continue leading children towards Christ through sports. And I got a new heart. Seems like I got the best part of this trip. Didn’t even feel most of this till I got home.

So, instead of this post being about all the good we did in Peru. I guess it’s more about all the amazing work Peru did in me.

I will try to get some pictures up soon with more information about the work we did and more about the ministries we served while there. But, this is the message God put in my heart to share about Peru right now.

Not sure if they will read this but I want to say thank you to Brent and Stephanie for all the love they show for these children and for their perseverance and trust in the Lord. Their relationship and how it reflects Gods love is truly one that has changed a heart forever. My heart.

God spoke through the ocean! 

My last day in Portugal I sat by the sea. We ( my friend and I) decided that even though it was overcast and somewhat windy, we would go to the beach as we had planned. It was not what I would call a typical beach day. I was a little hesitant if I’m honest. But, I never told her that. We took some food and a few beach chairs so we could relax by the ocean and take in the beautiful view and refreshing sea air one more time before we prepared to fly back to opposite sides of the world where we came from.

We went to the same beach we went to the day we got to Portugal. But, this time the beach, the tide, the feeling it gave you, was totally different. Just six days ago we had the warm sun washing over us and a wide span of beach to walk along. The waves danced gently on the shore and we explored tide pools that had clams and all types of life living in them. But, on this day the water out weighed the beach and the air was full of a heavy sea smell and mist surrounded everything as the waves washed ashore, leaving behind sea foam that was a result of heavily churning water. The delightful tide pools we explored for over an hour were no where to be found. 

The air was a tiny crisp but refreshing and the sound of the waves was intoxicating. We set our chairs in a spot where we would be safe from the rising tide and wrapped ourselves in the soft blankets we each brought and sat there in awe! 

My interaction with the ocean is very minimul so if you are one who is familiar with the ocean some of this may seem a bit elementary but for me it was profound and majestic to say the least. 

As we sat there, there where two to four rows of billowing waves coming in. These waves would start almost out of my range of eyesite ( I’m sure they probably started much farther then I could see)  They would well up slowly as though the water was taking in a deep breath and then roll into an even larger mass before rolling in over itself as the force of itself became too much to bare. They roll over and make a white feathery crest as they cascade in on them selves, only to well up again and again repeating this beautiful rhythm until at last it would reach the shore. Dispite the massive power and force that had welled up it would meet with the shore gently and wash over it calmly and almost mythotical. 

These waves have emence power and make a huge impact yet they flow around the smallest obstical, effortlessly it gives way to the smaller object in its way. It flows around it and conforms to its shape, sometimes following a completely different path then it had been headed down. 

As I sat there, I silently spoke to the Lord about His power and how He holds this very sea in His hand. How large and bold and powerful He is. Just like the waves. Then He spoke to me about His love for me and how I should love others. 

Like the waves, they start far off in the distance, they well up and can become very intense (like love). Love is powerful and has a large impact on those who receive it. (Like the shore received the waves). It is something we should be bold in and allow it’s great power to inspire awe in us. Yet, real love and true love like that of God is gentle and mild. It’s bold and powerful strong and impactful, as well as gentle and forgiving. Giving way to obsticals and flowing effortlessly down what ever path it comes to. It conforms to any shape, any size, any demand, any obstical. It is wide enough to cover the ocean and deep enough to touch the most harded of hearts. Love, especially Gods love is beautiful and sometimes overwhelming it’s hard to take in all at once. 

My eyes searched the shore back and forth trying to take in every moment and it was difficult. I was in awe and wonder at how the water keeps its rhythm and how the water just knew where to go and how to flow. Much like Gods love, at least to me. Trying to take it all in and wondering how it keeps perfect timing and how He knows how to make things flow for me. He spoke to me so loudly in those waves that it changed my view on love. Love is something we are it is how we flow it is how we use our power, our strength. Love is something to be respected and cherished. And most importantly it is something that we can only do fully if God is the one setting it into motion. When God is at the center of your love for others, it will not matter what you get back in return. The waves don’t expect the water on shore to rush out and meet it! The waves just come in and are gentle and flow. God, loves us unconditionally He flows with us and is with us down every path, even ones He would not have chosen for us. He gives way and takes shape wherever we are in our walk with Him. Slow and steady welling up with love for us. His gentle love changed my heart so much, I almost feel like I have a new heart. A heart willing to love like He does. Or at least to try. I pray for God to fill me and all those reading this, with the bold powerful love that makes a huge impact. I pray He helps me deliver that love with gentle kindness and Grace. That I would have the ability to flow as the waves not easily thrown off course but willing to give way to others. I pray for my love to be deep and meaningful and far reaching like the Lords. 

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. 

Mongolia (part 2) 

As I was writing this post yesterday something distracted me and poof…. No more blog post. It helped me remember some of the things God was showing me while I was in Mongolia.

There everything was very focused. My time had purpose and the things I was doing all had a common goal. Teach English, share Christ. It was really that simple. We spent time with our students in school and outside of school. And every moment we where together was time to practice English and an opportunity to share love with them and work our faith into conversations.

I would love to at some point get into all the details about the crazy amusement park we went to or share with you about the fun games we played at camp. But, for right now. I want to keep this simple.

The lessons on staying focused and working effectively have spoken so strongly to me that it has me reevaluating everything I am doing in in my life.

I feel the Lord saying STOP being so busy and get to work. If we are busy running all over the place trying to make others happy or being involved in too many things we don’t have anything to offer any of those things. We are so stretched thin we have little to offer. When we earnestly seek God and ask for direction. We need to realize that when He speaks that’s the answer. Not here’s your calling now fill in every spare moment with other things to keep your brain occupied.

I’m speaking from how I have delt with my life. Too busy to be effective. Time to slow down and take another look at the directions God has given me. One step at a time.

A little catch up (My time in Mongolia) part 1

Well, it seems I have a little catching up to do!

Last time I posted was before I left for Mongolia.  This trip was so amazing that even when I had time to write I was having a hard time trying to write about everything going on.  So, let’s see how things go now that I have a chance to look back on everything.

First, we can start with the fact that God showed up in a huge way at the last minute with the funds to go.  I was getting down to the wire with a total of $1200 left to raise.  Of course the night before the money was due I got notifications that two very large donations had been made.  One for $450 and another for $1500.  No matter how many times God shows up and wows me I am always left in awe at His amazing timing and provision.  So, I had all the funds and reassurance I needed that this trip was Gods will for my life right now.

I met up with my family for a farewell breakfast.  Everyone was there.  My mom, sister, niece, grandmother and even my dad.  My mom and dad haven’t wanted to be in the same place at the same time in years.  Glad to see me going to the other side of the world helped break that issue.  Not even sure if it was ever an issue or if it was just perceived to be an issue so we (my sister and I) never invited them both at the same time to anything.

My emotions where going crazy.  I was excited to leave and a little scared of flying by myself.  I was going to meet up with total strangers and hope we became friends so I wasn’t alone for a month.  So, I got dropped off at the airport and said my last good byes. It was strange and amazingly exciting being on my own.  I mean it’s funny to even think that way. I’m an adult and live on my own and take care of myself.  So, I’m always on my own. But, there is something invigorating about leaving all your safety nets behind and running towards God and the great unknown.  Trusting all will be well.

At this point  I checked my luggage and began the long game of hurry up wait.  Hurry to check in and get through security now wait for boarding.  Hurry to find your seat on the plane, now wait for take off and landing.  Hurry off the plane and grab some lunch in North Carolina and then wait for the flight to Houston.  Hurry to meet up with the people you will call your team for six weeks and then wait and wait and wait as you fly the twelve hours from Houston to Beijing.

Just getting to Mongolia seems like a note worthy adventure.  Another flight transfer and then forty people loading luggage onto a bus, some last minute paper work a slew of directions from a stranger I just met and have no choice but to trust, a short bus ride and there you go.  Your sitting in the U.B. City Hotel in the heart of Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia surrounded by strangers, exhausted and full of adrenaline with no where to go and burn it off.

Now what?

Now, we try to sleep…. What time is it?  10pm.  Why is it I still light out?  Because of where Mongolia is.  When does it get dark?  Sometime around 10:45pm.  Are you kidding me? Nope.  So, I wrestle my eyes closed and sleep as soundly as I can with the sun still up.  Five a.m. rolls around and I wake up to use the bathroom and the what do you know?  The sun is peaking out and is already starting to fill the sky with its light.  Did it ever go down?  I feel as though it was always up.  The first week at the hotel I spent most of my time in training.  But, when I wasn’t in training I was trying to catch the sun while it was down, just to prove to myself it actually went all the way down. I was convinced that the sun never sleeps in Mongolia.

So, got together with our teams for a meeting. We got a chance to go exchange some money and get our barrings in the city.  Then we had a pretty free weekend.  We could go any where and do anything. Only real rules, no alcohol of course, no smoking and no motorcycle taxis.

All the other trips I have been on in the past where through my church.  So the rules are similar except you also have to stay with the team, don’t wonder on your own, only use the team transportation and only when the team goes somewhere.  It’s sort of a lock down feeling comparatively.  And for good reason.  The church has a different responsibility then the type of organization I went with this time.

So, needless to say I was excited to feed my wonder-lust and go exploring.  Thankfully, my small team (only two other guys both about 22) had the same excitement and we went exploring together!  First, we found the food we liked.  Then coffee and the most giant shaved ice with berries I have ever seen, then we started finding the short cuts to make the 45 minute walk to downtown  a more tolerable 35 minute walk.  We eventually got this down to about 25 minutes I think.

Anyway, on to training week.  We spent the first week learning what not to do.  With every culture there are dos and don’ts.  So here are few in case you ever find your self in Mongolia.  Don’t give people money with your left hand and never hand it with the money between your fingers.  This is a huge insult. Never write a name in red and even worse don’t ever write a box around it.  Death announcements are written like this.  Don’t point with a finger use your whole hand to direct attention to something but on the flip side staring is totally o.k. If you give out prizes in class don’t throw them to students.  We think this is fun they get extremely offended.  Bumping into people by mistake doesn’t faze anyone and no apology is needed but if someone steps in your foot they will grab your hand and squeeze it.  (This is something I have gotten so used to I find myself doing it still). Any car is a taxi, this I found weird.  If you need a ride stick your hand out and someone will pick you up.  Sometimes it’s a taxi sometimes it’s someone going that way that could use a few extra bucks.  All seem fairly safe to get into,as long as you can tell them where to go. We learned to always have toilet paper with you, public bathrooms don’t always have it. That is if you can find a public bathroom.  And public drunkenness is not taboo and you will see many drunk people walking around.  It is not against the law.  We then learned better ways to do things, more cultural differences, lesson planning and team building.  We learned where we would be going for the next three weeks and learned more about our individual towns.  Ours was the farthest city east, and we discovered it would be a 12.5 hour bus ride to get there. I was less then enthusiastic about this.  I get bus sick and had heard stories of how the “rest stops” consist of the driver pulling over and men going on one side of the bus and woman on the other.  Just, find a spot and let it loose.  I mean I have been camping before and have used nature as a toilet many times.  But, it’s usually hiding behind a bush or a tree.  Not, lined up in a flat grassy plain with sheep wondering past.  Needless to say, I waited for hours till we arrived at the stop with “actual toilets”….

What?!…. This isn’t a toilet.  Are these 2x4s over a deep hole full of *#}t?!  Oh my gosh!!!! What have I gotten myself into?  The first time I used what my team mates and I affectionately nick named The Hole, I was mortified.  It’s a deep deep hole about 10 feet deep about 5 feet wide and then depending on how many “stalls” long.  First, stop had no doors but did have sides and a roof and partisans between each Hole to make stalls. There are no seats, no nothing.  Just stand on the 2x4s squat low enough over the huge gap between them and try not to pee on your pants or your own feet.  Also, pray to God everyone before you had good aim.  Never mind the people walking right past you as you awkwardly take care of business.  Oh, and don’t drop anything!  This is not the time to check email or scroll through your Facebook feed.  Not that you would have service out there anyway.  So, my first encounter with the hole left me feeling less then excited to be on this journey.  Back into the bus for the second leg of the trip.  Dusty roads all around, the bus driver honking to get the herds of the road.  Sometimes sheep, sometimes cows or horses.  This journey was a true test of my endurance.  Every muscle aching and my brain working overtime to process what was happening.  I prayed very diligently during that journey trying not to have expectations about the final destination.  Also, praying I would make it there and adjust well to my new home.  Thankfully, I did make it.  One lady kept getting sick on the bus and all though I felt bad for her, I’m glad it wasn’t me.

Home sweet home!

The Royal Palace Hotel… Breakfast included every morning, no gym but my room was on the fourth floor and no elevator so that counts.  The upside to being the only girl on this three person team was I got my own room! Beautiful room, very nice bathroom, A/C, and a pretty view.  Oooohhhh WiFi! Now I’m getting excited!

Flip on the A/C and lets get my things settled into place and make this place home.  Turn on the hot water and see how the shower works.  Turn on the hot water, wait turn ON the hot water…….. Are you kidding?  O.k, minor issue no hot water.  We can just wait it out and see if it works later.  Thankfully my team leader was with us and my room was changed quickly. So, we packed up all the things I had found a home for and we wheeled them down a few doors.  No problem. Can I sit still yet? Can I lay flat and stretch out? What a marvelous feeling to finally be “home.”

Monday morning

My first day of teaching class ever!  Turns out my intro students are brilliant and learn really fast.  We blasted through my lesson plan (mind you this was my first lesson plan and I worked on it longer then it took me to teach it).  We finished what I planned in about an hour! I started to sweat.  What am I going to do for the next five hours?!  Thankfully we ran out of things to do in time for our first break.  So, I dismissed my class and headed for the bathroom….

Wait… Where is the bathroom….. Oh my goodness you have to be kidding me! Its a Hole! I thought I was done with these things.  No running water at the school and the electrical was questionable so we never turned on the classroom lights.  To the hole I went, trying to gather my thoughts about how to make it through the day with no more lesson plan.  Then God reminded me I just have to get through till lunch and He would help me.  I hated the Hole but the nice little walk to the Hole gave me many moments of good solid prayer between breaks.  All though I found my self avoiding water in the beginning hoping I would avoid the Hole.  I later learned how dehydration effects your mood and gave up on this plan. Started drinking almost 3 liters of water a day just to feel normal.  I eventually conquered The Hole and lost all my hesitation in using it. This is a story for a later time.

Back to the dreaded “failed” lesson plan.  Turns out I work pretty well with no plan.  My students and I worked through the book.  A bunch of fun activities and games came to mind as we worked and we all had fun and they learned.  After the first few days we found a groove and the class room time seemed to flow most days.  I could tell when they needed more practice or a break or a fun game.  And they learned they could ask me to go over and over things if needed.  My tiny little class became its own little community and we started to grow closer to each other and learned to understand each other better.  We had a huge language barrier but despite that fact we had inside jokes that only our class would laugh at and funny little things the ladies would tease each other about.  It’s amazing to me that we can hardly understand each other, yet understand each other perfectly.

Naadam Festival!

For a few months I researched Mongolia and looked at amazing photos of mountains and white fluffy clouds and horses and Naadam.  Everyone dressed in bright colorful traditional Mongolian clothing beautiful horses racing across country . And here I was on the other side of the world in the back seat of a car racing down a dirt road to see the first horse race of the day.  We dipped and bobbed and weaved our way through a maze of dirt and grass.  Followed by others doing the same.  Some to our left and some to our right.  It seemed like a race all on its own.  We got to the location got out of the car and headed for the excitement.  Then we wait and wait and wait.  The horses had left earlier for their 40km run out and we where waiting for them to return.  It was hot and the sun was beating down. The stands where lined with colorful umbrellas and every moment you look up the crowd multiplies.  We took pictures with our students and stood and talked in the heat as we melted into the sand.  We found out that most of the riders are under 7 years old! And occasionally horse and rider leave in the morning and only the horse makes it back.  The child is obviously hunted down and returned to safety later.

So, after what felt like eternity in the scorching Mongolia sun we saw a tiny spec in the distance.  The crowd started yelling.  We got our cameras ready and the owners of the horses rode out to great their hopefully winning horses.  There are only 5 top horses per race.  Once the winner arrives the horse is taken to a large pen to be paraded around as people on foot and horse back attempt to wipe their hands and hats on the winning  horse. The winning sweat brings good luck and prosperity all year.  There was so much chaos I just  joined in and will have to remember the moment as photographing everything going on was proving to be difficult and not worth missing out on the action just to snap a shot.

I do have a lot of pictures, but I discovered that sometimes life is best lived and documented later.  Back to the chaos.  The first horse of the Naadam is back sweat has been slathered on all who wanted it and just as fast as it started it ended. Men on horse back ride away in a hurry and spectators return to there vehicles.  Cars and motorcycles race back to the arena for the opening ceremony.  My team and I laughing bouncing all over the back seat as we race back over the dirt roads we raced in on. Wondering why you would have a race before opening ceremonies and giggling as we sat in traffic.  This was the first time I saw a goat being carried on a motorcycle. That I did get a picture of.

Once we returned to the stadium we could see all the people that had been specs under umbrellas.  Everyone was wearing their traditional clothing.  It’s so beautiful.  The feel in the air was one of excitement and joy that they where celebrating.  I will not go into every detail of the day right now.  Perhaps I will sum this up with the lessons I learned while at Naadam. One,it is a fantastic and beautiful event full of love and pride for country and I was blessed to be invited.  Two, there is always a worse Hole I will spare you the details but this was like nothing I had seen before.  Three, Hosher always smells good (not sure what it tastes like since I can’t eat the crispy golden dough meat pockets).  Four, burgers in Mongolia no matter how tasty they look are is still Mutton (my arch nemesis) even when they look like a beautiful burger from the U.S. we will discuss this later as well.  Five, archery is more exciting when your the one doing it.  Six, the first day of wrestling at Naadam leaves you wanting more.  And seven, if your students ask enough horsemen if their English teachers can sit on their horse one will eventually say yes.

Off to the museum!

Our students took us to their museum.  It is in an old soviet building and the museum has room after room of their history and Art.  It was very interesting and I felt honored that they shared with me.

The rest of our time in this city we built on these friendships and became very close with our students.  Each one of them was special in their own way.  We shared time with them at the beach with their families and I got to swim with cows for the first time.

We went out to karaoke clubs and a dance club a few nights.  We had a wildly amazing time completely sober dancing like maniacs.  Or students had a blast learning our horrible dance moves and we learned theirs.

We had a student who went through surgery while we where there and my team mate (her teacher) had his class make get well cards and we went on an adventure to buy her flowers.  She was so touched because no one had ever done something like that for her before.  Then a week later I was sick and taking antibiotics for a tooth. I missed school and the four ladies from my class showed up at my hotel room with juice and sat with me for a while. It was so nice to have that type of community that far away from home.  That time while I was sick could have been devastating to my spirit and really could have knocked me into a negative place.  But, God provided the comfort I needed to help me through.

We finished out our three weeks in Choibalson we went on the great cake expedition to find a cake to celebrate our closing ceremonies at the school.  There is no Giant Eagle to wonder into and order a cake in Choibalson.  You have to find a baker. It’s not always the easiest task.  My team and our students found one on the other side of town in a basement.  The cake turned out beautiful and the means of getting it and transporting it made it even more special. We handed out certificates, we took millions of student teacher selfies, we received gifts from our students and we cooked for them.  We told our winning students they where invited to camp and said sad good byes to those not coming. We cleaned out our classrooms and bid farewell to The Hole.

Back, on the bus two days later we had 12 hours of bumping and bouncing to process what we had just accomplished.  I honestly slept a ton on the way back but I did reflect.

It is strange when your sole purpose in going somewhere has such a subtle presence.  I went to share God and the hope of Christ with these students.  But, the way you share on these types of trips is so different. It really does help me see how every day living and actions show people where Christ is in your life.  You can be well read and know the Bible inside and out, you can have intellect and be able to talk a good game and be persuasive with your words.  You could be an amazing story teller and captivate people with Gods goodness.  But, only if those people understand the language you are speaking.

But, the actions you take everyday being gracious when invited.  Being interested and involved and letting people into your life.  Getting down at a dance club and having fun and not judging someone’s lifestyle.  These things show love no matter what language is being spoken.

We did have times to share our faith verbally.  Through cultural lessons we shared the Christmas story and shared about Easter.  We even shared about mental, physical and spiritual health. And many other times we had opportunities to share while teaching.  But, nothing can replace playing cards in our hotel room and walks home from school.  Time at the most terrifying amusement park ever and all the other time we spent with our students.

One of the last nights we where in Choibalson one of the girls found an iPad!  She was so excited and thrilled she found it.  It was better then hers and you could tell she really wanted it.  But, she paused and then you could see the look on her face go from joy to confusion. Something in her was telling her to return it or at least try.  That’s something I don’t know if she would have thought a few weeks earlier.  She did end up returning it for an award. But, I remember her saying, we don’t return things when they are found here.  But, I know you’re Christians and you would try to return it.

Something we did while we where there let her know these facts.  I never said I would return it.  Not till after she did.  But God showed through us in ways we aren’t even aware of.  It is an amazing reminder that it isn’t us!  We aren’t the ones winning souls  It’s the Lord. We just need to be available for Him to shine through.

My adventure in Mongolia does not end here. There is still more to come. But, it is time now for vacation. All though we had a blast in Mongolia and my photos if you have seen any make it look like I was on a month long vacation. I assure you the time spent there was some of the hardest work I have done. The travel alone takes a toll on your body and every system in it. So, for the next week I will be enjoying another adventure that the Lord has blessed me with. I will be in Algonquin Canada! enjoying Gods majestic beauty, with 23 other people as we paddle our canoes through the back country. Completely cut off from technology and totally tuned into Gods presence. I’m sure this adventure will get a blog post all its own when I return. So stay tuned for that adventure and Part two of My Time in Mongolia.

May God bless you and His Holy Spirit inspire you.

Traveling Light

There is much to be said for traveling light. Less baggage= less to lose, the less to drag around, less to hold you down and less to consider.

For years I was a collector. I still can be if I hold still long enough. I would collect things from everywhere. Every time I moved (which was frequent. Eight times in two years at one time.) I found something at the new place that would become a part of the collection. Something cool or quirky that someone else left behind. So, every time I moved I had a piece of that old place with me a memory an object from that time and space. It would travel with me and just became a part of who I was. When I sat around with people and I looked around the room I could quickly give you a story to go with almost everything I owned. It’s still nice to think of those things and those memories. They aren’t all bad. Some are funny and some are down right ridiculous.

But, what I found is that dragging all the past with me and all its objects became hard to handle and hard to move and God was trying to write a much better story then any of the stories triggered by any one of those objects.

I was far from a hoarder and I didn’t really obsess about these things. They just made me feel comfortable and they were hard to get rid of.

The first time I felt the Lord telling me to lighten my load I didn’t get it. Why does it matter what I have or keep? Who cares? I wasn’t materialistic they weren’t expensive things, I wasn’t wasting all my money on stuff.

Then God said, “If it’s not a big deal and no one cares then why do you need it?” I would argue that I just like the stuff and didn’t want to get rid of it. And then the convicting question, “what do you want more those things or Me (the Lord)?”  I would of course respond that I wanted the Lord more.  Then I would get rid of whatever it was I felt Him asking me to get rid of.  This may seem extreme or even silly to some of you.  First, of all I’m writing this expecting that you will believe not only that I talk to God, but that I can actually tell when He’s talking to me and what He’s saying.  So, I understand if this seems weird to you.  Just please bare with me a little longer.

So, I would get rid of my entire movie collection first.  God revealed I was taking too much pride in collecting entire sets of movies. Is movie collecting bad?  By no means is it bad, neither are movies or enjoying them. But, for me at that time they needed to go and God showed me part of my character that would not have been visible to me otherwise. So the movies went and so did some other things.  Then this purging of stuff began to become one of Gods main tools for refining me.  It became the way he would reveal the strangest parts of myself to myself.  Why certain things were harder to get rid of and why there were something I even justified keeping longer then I should have.

Bottom line is I used to keep, keep, keep.  And now I purge, purge, purge.  God helped me to grasp the concept that everything in this world is made by and owned by God.  Every stitch of clothing everyone ounce of metal no matter what shape it takes (car, phone, tools, electronics).  You name it and it is HIS. Not mine.  So if everything is His then He wills how it is used and where things belong.  If I am in His will He will provide what I need when I need it.  So, why hold onto all these things weighing me down?

This doesn’t just go for physical object either. This counts for feelings and resentments and expectations even.  We give these things too much control over what we do and where we go and how we live.

God has used the purging of things and the taking away of people (not deaths, just not in the same place in my life as they once were) to teach me these things.

God wants us to answer Him when He calls. He wants us to GO when He says go and do what He is asking us to do.  I have found that these lessons of perspective (who really owns what) I have been better prepared for last minute changes in plans and I don’t get as hurt over things not going as I thought they would.

Taking the bus again and riding my bike everywhere to prepare for my up coming trip has proven to be exactly what God had planned for this season. Yes, it saves me money for my trip and yes, the riding helps me stay in shape and it’s fun. But, more importantly God is strengthening me through the trials of peddling up hill against the wind to rely on his strength and not my own. He uses flat tires to reveal that everything has a purpose and things learned during one season are greatly needed in the next season. Nothing, we do or go through is wasted. He has used hurt from the past to build confidence in the future.  He has used my pride against me to humble me at His feet and He has used my defeats to show His victories over every detail of my past.

I wanted to hold on to old things for comfort and He wanted to hand me the world.  The closer I draw to Him and the more willing I am to let His Spirit rest upon me and the more I realize I was made for Him and not the other way around, the less I need and think I want. The more that happens the more free I feel. Free from material wealth and free to be full of His Spirit and free to follow His calling.

These are just things God has shown me, in the way He has shown me. He works in all of us in a way that speaks to us the most deeply. But, for me He has shown me the value of traveling lightly. Not letting things from the past drag me down or have too much weight in my future. Cling to Him and He will provide for every need as it arises and in its perfect timing.

-Father, I thank you for the lessons you give to each one of us. I thank you that you know us each so well you can speak to us in unique ways that hold meaning for us individually. You speak to me through these times of purging and others in ways that speak loudly to them. I pray Father for each person reading this that you will bless them with the ability to recognize when you are speaking to them. I pray a blessing of boldness for each of them that they will act on your will when they discover it. I pray Father, you continue to guide us through each season of our lives and you help us to take the lessons from one season and apply them to the next. Thank you Father, for all the blessings you pour out on us. In Jesus Name- Amen

Love like it’s your job- (because it is)

For I command you today to love the Lord your God, to walk in obedience to him, and to keep his commands, decrees and laws; then you will live and increase, and the Lord your God will bless you in the land you are entering to possess. (‭Deuteronomy‬ ‭30‬:‭16‬ NIV)

How do we Love like God calls us to love?
How do we love Him and honor Him with that Love?
Everytime we hear something in our heads telling us to do something nice or kind or calls us to reach out to someone for God we are hearing from God and should be following that leading. So, why don’t we?
We hide our faces in our phones to avoid contact with the world. Yet we claim these devises keep us connected. Yet, more then ever we fear one another instead of love one another.
God calls us to love everyone and we can’t even talk to strangers.The world is full of people who are afraid of people!
Judgement and hate, violence and intolerance are running rampant.
In a time of stranger danger we have a God who calls us to love our enemies and to love our neighbors as our selves.
Do you find yourself going to church on Sunday and dragging your self to your job all week. Just to feel let down by life? To feel defeated and left wanting more from this world. We are in this world but not of it. We are free from the bondage of this world.
Yet we strive to be unique and different. How? By falling in line with the next best fade.
In this entertainment age we want instant connection and instant gratification. We want to be entertained rather then to be involved. We want to watch life from a far while craving to be a part of it.
But, we are stuck with a worldly mentality. Stuck with our heads in a dream land, constantly dreaming for more… More money… More recognition…. More validation or just dreaming of things and places we wish we could go, places we wish we could see, relationships we wish existed. Our hearts tied up in drama and false idols, idols of stature, money, material wealth, sex, tv and fantasies, and our spirit left dying of thirst. Our spirits cry for a good watering, a way to make these things come true, our wishes made tangible. Do we all forget?
We drink from the well that will never run dry the Living water.
Yet, most of us live as though there is a great drought.
We have a direct connection to the creator of the universe, the sovereign Lord of ALL yet we act like wondering feeble minded animals with no control of our lives, our circumstances, our lively hood and the condition of our being.
It’s time to wake up! Time to redeem our old attitudes and time to see the Lord for all His glory. It’s time to see what that His calling really means for you and your life. His kingdom will come and His will, will be done. Will you be sitting at your desk bored out of your mind slaving away for the world when He comes? Or will you be on fire and ready to go where ever He sends you for what ever reason He sends you when you hear Him call?
This is not an invitation to leave your job, throw caution to the wind and live as radically as YOU think one might live if you abandon all worldly things and dropped all to follow God.
This is an invitation to pray and listen closely for your FATHERS instructions and be willing to do so if He gives those instructions.

For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit, the things of the Spirit. (‭Romans‬ ‭8‬:‭5‬ NKJV)

We worry more about what others have that we don’t and miss out on how God is trying to use us for others. We worry more about what people think of us then what God thinks of us.

Fear of man will prove to be a snare, but whoever trusts in the Lord is kept safe. (‭Proverbs‬ ‭29‬:‭25‬ NIV)
God calls us to be fearless and bold. He calls us to be different and set apart and to stand for righteousness. And in return he will keep us safe.
The creator of everything! Is trying to use you for His purposes and we sit around crying about no one “liking” something we posted on Facebook or our boss not noticing the great job we think we did. We have a King looking to use us as his go-to person and we are concerned about what the neighbor thinks about our new car.
We have a creator that has made us for a special purpose and we all just run around trying to find joy and happiness in everything we think we see other people enjoying.

Radical change needs to take place.
This type of change is the type that starts so small no one may notice at first. When you feel the urge to hate, love instead.

Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” says the Lord. On the contrary: “If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head.” (‭Romans‬ ‭12‬:‭19-20‬ NIV)

When you feel the urge to give up on someone, continue and stand firm. Be stead fast in love.
They will have no fear of bad news; their hearts are steadfast, trusting in the Lord. (‭Psalm‬ ‭112‬:‭7‬ NIV)

Stop ignoring those little tiny things you feel you should do. Stop dumping water on the spirit, stop shoving these actions aside out of fear.
Be faithful with little and he will give you much. I am blown away by the little tiny acts that add up to big blessings later.
Being Christian and sharing Christ with others does not have to be this uncomfortable heart pounding experience where you corner some one and ask them if they know Jesus. It could be a smile, a hello, a how was your day. It could be asking someone in line at the store if they have anything laying heavy on them, a burden of some kind that you might be able to pray for.
Holding doors for people. Helping with groceries, something very simple but it shows love. It shows you notice they are alive and care to help them. Most people are so rushed, so hurried, so focused on worldly tasks. An act of kindness snaps them loose just for a minute. If you feel God (I sometime relate this to your voice in your head. Your conscience)
God speaks in so many ways I can’t go into how he communicated with people right now but if you hear anything or feel something ever telling you to do something nice for someone, just do it! Or if you feel inspired to send and encouraging text out of the blue to someone you don’t normally text even if it’s at 4am and you don’t known if it will wake them up. Just do it! Say yes Lord, I will answer your call and I will step out in faith and live radically for you. I will step out of my comfort zone for 4 seconds and ask this lady in line in front of me how she is. And ask her if she needs prayer ( just an example hear and then do whatever it is you hear)

Perimeters , how do I know it’s God?
Philippians tells us:
Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things. (‭Philippians‬ ‭4‬:‭8‬ NKJV)
Be obedient to the “voice” that tells you to act on these things. Show the love God is calling you to show. Step out of your self. Place your focus on how God wants to use you for others not what you can get out of others.
Take the words you hear from God and act in faith. You will be blessed.
Writing this right now is an act of faith. The enemy tells me no one will see this, you won’t get up and tell people these things.
He’s right! I’m terrified to tell people these things. I have fear I have doubt and it is scary to step out. But God tells me I have Him in my corner, these words are from Him and they line up with scripture. He wants us to live radical lives for Him. He wants us to be fulfilled in this world and bless us for eternity. And we are the ones making it hard. We are stubborn and listen to the wrong voice far too often. We feel these impulsive words we hear to be kind are just day dreams or passing thoughts and the enemy is right there to back it up and remind you you are too busy to take the 3 seconds it takes to say “can I pray for you?” The enemy paints vivid pictures of strangers giving us the stink face for being extra kind. Or even worse when we obey these thoughts and act as we feel God calling us, the enemy influences people to return our words with judgement or hateful statements as a warning not to do it again in order to beat us into submission and keep us quiet.
The enemy wants to kill and destroy you. He wants you silent and dosial. He wants you wounded by the world and jaded by hate and let down.
Are you going to stand here, children of the Most High God and tolerate the mistreatment the enemy places on you?
Or are you going to act like the righteous sons and daughter of a King, call the royal guards and have the enemy seized. When we stand firm in our faith, when we rebel against the norm and speak love to others, when we listen to those things in our head telling us to reach out to a broken world, we pile coals upon the enemies head.
How can we love better? Are you willing to try?
It’s simple but not easy.
“God direct my day and help me hear you” “help me to be obedient when I think I hear you” what if I hear God and step out in faith and the text isn’t answered? You fear. What if I make people mad?
Who cares. God doesn’t hold you accountable for their reaction, he’s looking for your obedience. He will deal with them in his time. It’s not about you or them. It’s about God and what he wants to use you for.
Stop letting the fear of people keep you from being faithful to God.
-Father I pray for those reading this that it will all make sense and sink into the place in their heart you are speaking to. I pray Father for your comfort and strength to come with your directions. I pray you help us be bold and full of your love. To live fully for you and full of your Spirit. I pray we learn to love more completely and to live less selfishly and more selflessly. I pray this in Jesus Name Amen.

God vs Man- How Do We Love our Enemy?

So Man is my biggest foe. God is the commander of my army yet I still take orders and listen to the opposing force. Wait… that doesn’t make sense. How can you fight a war and expect to win if you take orders from the very enemy you aim to destroy?
That isn’t even the biggest problem with what is happening. The biggest problem is most of us don’t even see the enemy as an enemy. We see co workers that P us off, family issues that drive us crazy, traffic jams, bank account woes and late bill payments. We see people who “just don’t get it” and keep thinking over and over again that “if things would just be____ (fill in that blank as you wish) then everything would be fine and I would be happy, content, at peace.

So, this enemy… he hides in plain sight! He’s right in your face! People who study war would tell you how smart that is. It is unsuspecting and innocent looking. Its a gift of a hollow horse full of enemy forces waiting to burn your life down as you sleep.

I want to try and explain something very important. The actual people are not the enemy! The situations, circumstances, and the way we think when controlled by the enemy is the enemy. My sister is not my foe or someone to battle with, the irritation and the thoughts the enemy can make you think when you begin to disagree and the small little thing starts pinning you up against each other like there is a world war about to start, now that is sparked by the enemy. He tries to separate Gods believers, he tries to keep believers from having a good influence on non believers he tries to prevent us from traveling to share Gods word, he tries to cripple us with fear of stepping out for God in blind faith.

If there is one thing this journey is teaching me, it is that the enemy hates bold steps made in faith when it seems like the most irrational thing to do.
Yet, I find that when those fears are met head on with a faith that tells me God wins and I’m on that side. It is easier to face that enemy and step out into the darkness.

So the first way to love your enemy is realizing that that person in front of you isn’t the enemy. They are just the Trojan Horse. The enemy is the unseen force inside that is waiting for an insecurity to exploit a weak spot in the armor to be shown or a default in character that he cant wait to see let loose on some one.
Another important note, it isn’t always the enemy! We are flash and blood and flawed and fallible. Sometimes it is our our flesh. In general I think it all starts with our own flesh. The enemy is just an opportunist that has impeccable timing.

These are all the more reasons to draw close to the Lord and ask to be refined and ask for guidance and growth. To allow God to work in us, so the enemy has less of us, to use against us. The more like Christ we become the less flesh the enemy will have available to him. So first step, in loving our enemies is to Love God and allow Him to work in us, stay close to Him and live in His Spirit.

Then we will begin to see others as He sees them. The more clearly we will be able to see they are not actually the enemy. This is especially true with people who aren’t walking with God. They don’t have the guidance from the Lord we have. Next time your boss starts freaking out or treats you in a way that just makes your blood boil, do this. Picture that person standing in eternity with no God, now picture them being used by the enemy as his pawn in an epic battle of the ages. Picture them worn down by trying to do life on their own without God. Picture them alone, hurting, separated from the only thing that could possible give them any hope in this world. Now, imagine them as a drowning person in a sea or deception and grief sinking deep into the world and the enemies lies of how things should be. Picture them with no hope and no way out. Now, imagine you are standing on the shore of this sea or better yet, you are on a boat near by. Will you get angry back at them and argue and bicker and make the waves around them bigger? Will you add to the chaos in their day, their life, their existence? Will you ignore the opportunity God is giving you? Every action and reaction is a witness to the character of God in us. Will you keep on sailing by comfy in your boat? Will you keep the truth to yourself? Or will you get out of the boat and reach out your hand? Will you offer them safety? Will you share what can save them?
Every situation we face in this life is a chance to “get out of the boat.”
Every time we come up against a trial or we face the enemy either in the form of our thoughts or a person or situation we have the chance to trust God have faith in what He is teaching us and face that enemy. Recognize that our “enemies (the object the enemy uses, person or other wise) are to be loved” and the enemy (the devil) is to be defeated by that love.

House Sitting Retreat- Day 3- God vs Man- Our Hidden Foe

Ok, so back to wondering how the people in our lives get between us and God. First off, let me start this next section with a huge thank you to all the people who support every “crazy” idea that comes to my mind. I am sure I can overwhelm even the most creative mind at times with how many directions my brain can go.

So, to those of you who keep track of me and listen to all my ranting first hand.

THANK YOU! you are amazing.

Please don’t take any of the following statements to heart. *(see right there, had to put a note in to make sure the feelings of loved ones are protected from the truth I’m about to share) Half of them don’t even know I’m writing a blog!

So, While “retreating” here and spending quiet time alone with the Lord I was praying and reading and writing. On the coffee table right in front of me was a small magazine I will reference it to avoid any copyrighting issues. (Tabletalk, The Seven Deadly Fears.) While reading a few struck me and God convicted me big time! Fear of Men by. Nicholas T. Batzig (no idea who he is but God used his writing today. If anyone reading this is friends with him on Facebook be sure to tag him so he knows he is being used as an instrument of God).

We are around people everyday all day. I am becoming increasingly aware of how much, what they think or what I think they might think effects what I do, what I say and how I say it. Even the way I might DO anything could change.

Think about that for a moment. You’re at work, working and a person you don’t know very well is in the same space as you. You feel God nudging you to ask this person a simple question. What do you do? Do you fearlessly ask the question? Do you ask God to repeat Himself to make sure it was Him? Do you think the entire situation out to the end. For example: I ask and the person looks at me nuts and has a bad opinion of the crazy girl asking random questions. Get scared of being rejected and say nothing? Or, do you walk past them seven times, think all these things through, and then realize not asking is against what God wants you to do. Then, finally terrified and reluctant ask the question?

The last option is the one I choose today. What did I find? Not only was the person happy to answer but it helped me learn more about them. It opened up a door. It was two people talking about their faith at work. To top it off something even more unexpected happened. They asked me to answer the same question! Which turned into me sharing about the time I spent with God yesterday and sharing this fear of Man I have with someone else.

That one simple question turned into a deep meaningful spiritual conversation with someone I haven’t really talked to before. I will tell you what, I will take that over “Hi, hows it going?” any day.

God, knows what He’s doing. Even when we don’t. The enemy wants to prevent us from these simple conversations. These simple conversations bring strangers closer together in Christ. Even people who seem to have no faith can gain some from us asking the questions God prompts us to. We need to hear Him and obey.

So, the hidden foe I speak of are the little whispers of doubt in the tiny little things we think we hear God prompting us to do.

He whispers “Ask Nate how he sees me working in his life.” if I obey -a relationship with God at the center starts and faith becomes strengthened. God gains more ground in the battle. We are faithful in little and will receive more.

He whispers “Ask Nate how he sees me working in his life.” if I ignore it (disobey)- nothing happens. No relationship, no strengthening, no added faith, no spiritual gain. The enemy keeps us in a boring mundane regular day at work lull. Nothing spiritual about that, no battle taking place. (or is there?) The enemy gains ground in the battle.

These situations can be the worst with family. Like I said, I love mine and they are very supportive. But, lets face it. Who’s approval do you seek out when it is God vs Family? Do you stick with the urges and prompts that God gives you? Do you say something about Jesus to the person in your family that you are unsure of where they stand with Jesus? Do you take the chance of offending them because God wants you to say something? Or, do you ignore the quiet voice, or feeling that you shouldn’t  say something because it might be uncomfortable? They might get upset or push you away!

We fear the loss of mans favor, loss of their love or we fear their disapproval. We fear loss of friendship, comfort or pleasure from those relationships. So, we “edit” what we know we should say. We all do it. I’m the worst at this. Time and time again the chance to speak Gods truth goes by, ignored. His convicting words tight in my chest as the anxiety builds. Do I really say that to them? (whatever it is your feeling you should say at the time). What if they freak out on me? What if this guy never talks to me again because I need to keep strict boundaries he doesn’t understand? What if my words sound overzealous? What if I sound nuts?

So we compromise. We say half of what we thought we should. We edit so the truth is sorta there and Gods message is kinda given, but in a way we know it will be better swallowed.

Question: Do you know that person better than God knows that person? Do you really think you know what is best said and not said to them at any given moment?

If you feel God telling you to deliver a message do you put your own words in, edit the message to make it more palatable. Or, do you deliver it as you know God is telling you to?

Maybe, the enemy has you double guessing all together. After all, why would God use you to tell someone they are heading down the wrong path? Why wouldn’t He just tell them Himself?

When we fear man it mutes and quiets our witness and keeps us from living for his glory.(Nicholas T. Batzigs words not mine) But, it spoke very clearly too me.

This fear of Man is a thing I never even thought of and it turns out to be my greatest road block. My biggest idol standing in my way to doing all the things God wants from me and for me.

Now, picture what it would be like to act on all the things you feel God telling you to do. Imagine, fearlessly and confidently carrying out every order large and tiny that the Lord gives you. I wonder what that would be like. Not even sure if it is possible. Sometimes, I have a hard time knowing for certain it is God telling me to do these things.

Jesus was able to do this and he never worried what people thought he never compromised for gain and his only goal was to bring honor and glory to the Heavenly Father. He was also rejected and despised because of it.

I don’t know if I can say I have what it takes to do the same. How do we battle this foe? How do we put God above all others all the time? How do we seek His approval over mans every time? How do we break free from our Man pleasing default setting?

*Father, I pray for all man kind that we would seek you more fully. I pray that when we feel you speak to us we follow more quickly and with less reservation. I pray you help us to come together and trust you as our guide and counselor. I pray you strengthen our faith as a whole, as one body. I pray you show us when the enemy is at work and make us more aware of how real the spiritual battle is. I pray Father, that you would give us a boldness to speak when you ask us to and a willingness not to edit the message according to what we think would be more pleasing to the receiver. I pray you help us to see the power and authority you have given us over the enemy and that we would see him and his attempts to keep us weak and fearful. I pray you help us to see you put us here to love one another and not to fear one another. I pray you help us to see there is one purpose Father. To glorify you Lord in all we do.

In Jesus Name- Amen