Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Hope Unexpected (A.K.A. "When God Spoke To Me Last Sunday")

A friendly warning: this is the LONG version!

First, some background info. 2006 has been tumultuous, to say the least. Pretty much anything short of physical harm to myself and losing my home has all been bundled up in 2006. I started the year with a tectonic Shift in a pivotal relationship, closely followed by the death of my Grandmother, and that immediately followed by my departure for New Guinea in mid-January. My time overseas was just amazing- just completely filled with God, and lessons about Him, myself, what it is to serve, be humble- it was so wonderful! What a mountain top!

But stepping off the mountain and returning to Orlando was completely different. I felt as though I plunged right into the most immense valley- dark and vast. I didn’t exactly have the kind of “culture shock” that I expected- in fact, I jumped right back into daily life rather quickly. (maybe to my detriment) The most influential thing was that the "Shift" continued too, until 2 continents collided, and “aftershocks” started tearing thru. Many certain, solid things/beliefs in my life became huge question marks. Trust? What’s that??

The worst was the sovereign silence of God. I’d call out to God for comfort, guidance- anything- but it felt like nothing came… My friendships suffered (because my trust was at zero), my job satisfaction and security faltered (I eventually abruptly quit), and my hope was not what it should have been. I found myself asking God, “Where were You? Were You there at all? How on earth could this have happened?” I felt like God had turned His back to me. That He’d dropped me. It was the only way I could rationalize how everything that occurred took place! God must have let me go. How else would a child of His backslide so grandly? I really hope none of you ever EVER feels this way. It SUCKS.

If you do though, I offer you hope.

Overlapping with my timeline of doubt, God was already showing His presence. The best example of this is with the job situation. In August, I quit my job following rising stress and conflict of interests- gave two weeks notice- and had nothing lined up at all! But literally 2 days after quitting- a friend called to tell me about a position at his school. Less than a week after quitting- I had a new job lined up, doing something I totally never would have imagined: I now work with autistic children. God’s will and provision was so obvious- it’s been just phenomenal to receive this, knowing full well where the blessing comes from. Not only do I LOVE my new job, and the kids, but I work with some fantastic people- 3 of which are friends from church! It’s the best knowing that I’m in God’s will with my job- I am exactly where He wants me.

Another great example: In the midst of fears and doubt, God brought people to me to lift me up and keep me connected. Anyone of my local friends can testify- I’m a runner. No, not like in marathons- more like I’ll run away and isolate when I’m under attack. And while most people usually just let me run, there have been some people in my life who’ve been pillars to me. They have been constant lights, endless encouragers and sources of truth and wisdom. I thank God soooooo much for His blessing of friendships and connection within the Body of Christ. That is exactly how it should be.

Sadness and guilt were very present. Prevalent. I did go to counseling for 2 1/2 months, but besides having someone I could confide the details to, it just didn’t seem to be helping me actually overcome, heal, change for the better, etc. (and that’s what I’d expected from it). God’s silence continued.

BUT- I DID stay constantly in The Word. Mainly out a sense of desperation- thinking like “there’s got to be SOMETHING in here that God will make jump out at me!” The only things that stuck out though were fairly condemning. Any words of supposed comfort didn’t seem to apply to me… God’s work in keeping me reading was strong though. He prompted me to find out about pride, and how God feels about the proud and arrogant. Then He taught me about true humility, and what it means to love unconditionally, and to forgive. (I’m still learning those…) He changed my perspectives in many ways, and the result was confession. There was WAY more to my problem than just the blatant sin and resulting guilt. Who really had the pride problem? Who had the heart problem? Oh… ME. It is a staggering prospect to meet with your deeply ingrained heart issues for the first time. I had never before realized and named the idols in my life.

So see, in ways I could only discern in hindsight, God was moving. Healing. Restoring. SLOOOOOOOOOWLY. 

Ok already, on to this past Sunday. That’s why I’m writing all this!

I was driving home, thinking about a friend who just got engaged. I was thinking about what she and I were up to this time last year. She was planning on moving across the country, and I was getting in gear to go to PNG. Nothing even related to the events of 2006 had started falling into place yet. All of that was still way ahead of me, and I was obliviously in love with the Lord, heart set on the prospect of learning about tribal missions, thinking that maybe it’s something I’d do as more than just a pastime. Back to Sunday though, I was deep into pondering how God is so richly blessing my newly engaged friend with this prospect of marriage, and how happy she is. And I am so happy for her! It’s so wonderful to witness God’s work in my friends’ lives! And then the thoughts came- those that couldn’t be from me:

“Who knows what can happen… what God can do in your life- even in the course of
a year? Not you- only God! You can be just as blessed. God is not mad at you, but
welcomes you, and offers you another chance. See, I am going to do a new thing.”

I was astonished- driving home… Those thoughts/ words flooded over me, and I started to cry. I was filled with praise and awe! I thanked God for being a God of second chances, for loving me, for sending His Son to die for me, and for His forgiveness. It was just really amazing!

TRUTH started pouring in as well. Those verses I’d read suddenly applied to me. They were written for me. (they include but are not limited to Jer. 29:11, Phil. 4:6-7, __________) And now I want you to know: I love that I’m in God’s care. He’s GOT me- He never once dropped me, or turned His back to me. I can’t humanly understand all parts of my story… I still don't know why these things had to happen, why backsliding was part of God's plan for me since the beginning... But I rest knowing He IS going to use these trials to His glory- now I can’t wait to see how they fit into His plan! I remember from The Passion of The Christ- that as Jesus embraced His cross again, He said, “See, I make all things new.” It touched me so back then, when I first saw that… And the promise that He can and will do that within me now is moving as well.

That last line, “See, I am going to do a new thing”, is straight from Isaiah 43:18-19. I really like how “The Message” says it: “Be alert, be present. I’m about to do something brand-new.” I feel very expectant all of a sudden! How hopeful! I find myself almost “giddy” (can you imagine??), thinking, “well, I wonder what it’ll be?? And when? When do I get to find out this awesome thing that God’s going to do in and with me??” (I feel like a little girl waiting to open Christmas presents) This has only been a few day behind me… But I tell you- the shift in attitude, prospect, vision- it’s monumental. I can’t do it justice with words. I could never tell adequately of how God met me right then.

Friends, I want you to have this hope too. You are constantly in my prayers. I pray that whatever it is you’re facing, you can know with certainty that God is with you. He hasn’t left you, or turned His back. No detail of your life falls outside of His gaze. He loves you. He’s your Dad- and He wants to count your footsteps and forget your sins.

There is such assurance in this knowledge! What can shake us?!

2007 Letter To Supporters

If I ride the wings of the morning,
If I dwell by the farthest oceans,
Even there Your hand will guide me,
And Your strength will support me.
Psalm 139:9-10

These verses first came to me just 2 weeks before I left for Papua New Guinea in January of this year. What an encouragement! I can tell you from experience- it is TRUE. No matter where you are, He is with you, He wants to guide you, and His strength is more than sufficient. Nothing is beyond God!

Friends, I continue to beg you to reflect: what stirs your heart for God’s sake? For me, it’s the thought of one day witnessing people from every tribe, tongue and nation standing together worshipping God. It is holding the hand of one the world may call “unwanted”, but who God looks at and says “MINE”.

This past January and February, I traveled to Papua New Guinea to participate in New Tribes Missions’ Interface program- a course designed to provide a realistic look at the process of making the Gospel available cross-culturally and establishing a functioning tribal church. I learned a ton about language, support roles in missions (yay!), literacy, mission methods, presenting the message of the Gospel chronologically, and the importance of using one’s heart language and cultural mores to present the Gospel in the clearest, most meaningful way.

I saw the seriousness of language barriers when I visited the Pawaia tribe. Although I’d picked up a bit of Tok Pisin (the trade language in PNG, and the language used by many missionaries to reach people), I found communication to be a challenge. Only the younger to middle-aged adults in the tribe spoke Tok Pisin (in addition to their tribal language). Regardless- what an amazing awe-inspiring experience to be gathered with Believers on the Far Side of the World! To listen to them sing, share testimonies of faith, and pray was like a foretaste of Heaven.

God has placed the unreached and unloved of this world on my heart. I want to continue to reach beyond this comfortable realm, until all who doubt know that He is God. At this time, I am continuing to be involved in short term missions. There is, though, a foreseeable day when full time placement becomes my reality. My desire (both now and future) is to serve by assisting in support roles.

God has indeed blessed me with the opportunity to take a “next step” in my personal involvement in missions! I will return to PNG- this place I’ve grown to love- from January 8 thru February 13, 2007. I’ll go back to INTERFACE- this time as part of the hospitality team. You got it- I will be serving!! My joy at this prospect is more than I can put into words! I am so very thankful to Our Father!

My faith in God’s provision is firm- and I have you to thank for that. Thank you for your support and encouragement of me in the past, present and future. Please pray with me concerning the following:
1. Preparation- I am only 6 weeks away from departure!
2. Finances- I am trusting the Lord to provide the $3200 to cover the expense of my trip, as well as for separate transportation to and from L.A., AND home expenses while I am gone.
3. Roommate- That God would send the best person my way prior to me leaving.
4. Spiritually- I really implore you to pray that my words and deeds would be pleasing to the Lord- both here, among my friends and acquaintances, and abroad, among people of a very different culture. Please pray that God would change my heart in some ways, and that His will and mine would be more in alignment.

Would you prayerfully consider becoming involved in sending me to New Guinea? You will play an important part in this experience as you do. If God is leading you to support me thru prayer or financial means, please fill out and return the enclosed “commitment card” and / or contact me for additional information.

I encourage you to visit This site will include lots of trip-related information, and will give updates on support raised, prayer requests, even accounts of what I’m up to when I’m actually over there! You can also make secure online donations by clicking on “GIVE at”.

This is all done
For the sake of His Beautiful Name.