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This Feels More Like War

*** This post was written on January, 28th. It took me a little while to work up the courage to post it. Since it was written there has been more sadness I could add… but also more healing… life goes on, doesn’t it? Thanks for reading.***

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“I don’t think I can…” I stammered, after barely trying to read Colossians 3:16 in my small group last week. The verse reads, “And let the peace of Jesus Christ rule in your hearts…” Does it really? The deepest darkest parts of myself wonder. Will the peace come? Because it feels like a far off stranger right now — who is drowning, like I am, in a sea of sadness. Then it was my turn to prepare to share the story of how I came to know Jesus…  and I had to take a passon that too. How could I talk about how Jesus is my Hope and the Redeemer of my life when I can’t even utter the words to admit that he has the power to bring peace? I can’t bring myself to fully acknowledge that Jesus could bring peace because if thats true then where is the peace? This feels more like war, not peace. I have Jesus…. but I was feeling anything but peace in that moment.

The month started with me and Joe’s little house getting broken into. Support raisng for Greece has been going so well, I knew that if I believe the Word of God, then I should know hard times were coming because the enemy is close at hand. This was my immediate thought when I was told of the break in… and honestly the bad news barely affected me. I hear of people feeling very traumatized and unsafe… but I think the Lord protected me from that and I just took our now very messy bedroom as an excuse to clean out. I was feeling proud of myself, probably a little high and mighty, rejoicing in the face of turmoil and kinda like, “Oh yeah? That all you got?” Stupid. No. Thats not all the enemy had in store for our start to 2017. A few days later I traumatically lost a dear Uncle to suicide on January 5th. It was awful. January 6th, my 26th birthday, I think was probably one of the worst days of my life. My family is suffering the aftermath of loosing him, and the trauma of the whole experience. It has been stressful, overwhelming, sad, and unlike anything I have ever experienced. God gave me strength I didn’t even know I had to put a pause button on my emotions until there was time for me to grieve. Having a meltdown in the middle of Staff Prayer at work wasn’t exactly what I had in mind, but it was okay. And we thought maybe that wasenough of the load for now, but we were wrong. Soon after loosing my uncle a dear friend tragically lost his mother, and in an unprecedented act of strength and bravery he then spoke at her funeral. Where is the peace? This feels more like war. Is that all the burden? No, bring cancer with us too, as I beg the Lord to heal a dear friend who is suffering and in pain. Where is the peace?? This feels more like war. A friend told me that tragedy highlights disfunction, and I couldn’t agree more. Yeah, these things that all came up in January are brutal. But the stress and tension they bring is in some ways worse. The enemy hates my marriage, and stress loves it. The enemy wants to isolate us and make us separate from the body of believers. Loneliness is haunting. Lord, this doesn’t feel like peace, it feels like war!!

But here I am. Sittingin a strangers house. My sweet husband knew my heart was so tired and orchestrated this get away for us. I cried/sang/prayed myself to sleep last night weeping for my dad who lost his brother, and for my friend who lost his mom. I had never heard this song until yesterday but it pierced my heart and broke down part of my shield I have been hiding behind. Here’s the lyrics:

“I can’t see
What’s in front of me
Still I will trust You
Still I will trust You

Steady heart that keeps on going
Steady love that keeps on holding
Lead me on
Steady grace that keeps forgiving
Steady faith that keeps believing
Lead me on

Though the sky is dark
And the wind is wild
You’ll never leave me
You’ll never leave me

Though the night is long
There is a coming dawn
The light is breaking
The light is breaking

Steady heart that keeps on going
Steady love that keeps on holding
Lead me on
Steady grace that keeps forgiving
Steady faith that keeps believing
Lead me on

And as the dawn breaks
And the clouds clear
In an open space
Together we will run”

The lines that got me- “I cant see what’s in front of me…Lead me on…Though the sky is dark and the wind is wild, You’ll never leave me…Though the night is long there is coming dawn…Steady heart that keeps on going, Steady love that keeps on holding, Lead me on. Steady grace that keeps forgiving, Steady faith that keeps believing Lead me on.” This is how I feel. I have no idea what is going on, there is wind, and darkness, and night. I feel my youth so evidently as I have NO idea how to navigate any of this. All I know is I wish my uncle was here, I wish my friend was with his mom, and that I am NOT AT ALL interested in my friend having cancer. No. Not at all.

Lead me on, Father. Lead me on. In the midst of all of this I met with a woman who asked me if I had talked to God about being mad at him yet. This took me off guard a little bit because I had not told her that I was mad at God. I said… “No, I am trying not to be.” She said, “You don’t need to try not to be mad. You need to be honest with God, and honest with yourself.” She was so right. The war in my heart… so much of it was anger at God, clashing with believing the lie to be angry at God is to not believe in His sovereignty. Thats not where I wanted to be. But thats not it at all, I absolutely believe in God’s sovereignty— thats why I am mad at him. Because it’s confusing how a Sovereign God is with me even now.

So I have learned a couple things:

  1. I am not going to understand.
  2. The peace of Jesus is real. Despite not being able to claim it in the moment of reading with my group…. I know it is real. The hope of heaven and the hope that somehow all this catastrophe does not mean that we are alone and forgotten by God… I don’t know how people make it through things like this without that hope.
  3. The enemy wants more than anything to isolate us. I go to a really big church, and have been there for about a year and a half. Practically no one that I know there knows my family, or much of my family story. So when all this happened I felt like I had to have a friend that knew my family in order to love me. But when I am far away from all my friends that know my family…. that leaves me thinking that must mean I don’t have friends. Stupid. No. Just another lie. I have amazing friends. The ones that live near me now don’t know my family, and parts of that are weird for me. But I am about to live in a place where I am really far from anyone that knows my family at all… But that doesn’t mean they couldn’t love me well. For those of you reading this who did step into my mess despite really knowing what it even looked like, I thank you and I love you.
  4. Going to Greece is not a game. I knew that. Obviously. But having to swallow not being here with my family is not easy. And it just got harder. The enemy wants to make me believe that they will separate from me if I am not here physically, or they won’t believe that I  love them if I live in a different country. Stupid. No, they don’t feel that way. They love me, and they know I love them.

I don’t have a nice conclusion. For those of you who just signed up to follow the blog that I haven’t met…. don’t worry. They aren’t all like this. I felt the need to tell all of you, my friends and family that are praying over our journey to Greece, where we are. Because in Greece, I’m going to need to do that same thing. I think the enemy LOVES to make us feel alone by telling us we have to carry our burdens alone. Especially in ministry. So Im trying to start now. Trying to really tell you where I am, so that in the future I can continue to do so. So… where am I? I am in a strangers house, and I am resting, and recharging. I am praying and sleeping and reading and crying and laughing and being with the Lord. Because I’m mad at him. But I know He loves me. So I want to be with him. Walking with Jesus is not about feeling. The Holy Spirit is with me regardless of whether or not I am aware of His presence, and praise God for that. So in this time I will lean into the foundation of my faith, instead of in my emotions. I will gather with other believers in the morning because I need to be reminded that I am not alone — I will not give into isolation. I will rest in the embrace of a Savior who cries with me. And I will spend time with God, who I will never fully understand.

You Mean…Me?

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Joe & I at Lineville Falls a couple weeks ago on a fun get away for his 26 birthday.

I’ve wanted to be a missionary for about as long as I can remember. I feel really embarrassed admitting that… I think that’s because for a long time I felt like I would never be worthy to be a missionary- I thought that is something only super humans do. I remember the first time I learned what a missionary was in elementary school. Pretty much from that point on I thought that everyone that believes in Jesus secretly wanted to be a missionary like I did… and I thought that literally until this year. It took our team in Greece giving us a good little shoulder shake to say, “Ummmm NO. Not everyone secretly wants to live overseas. Thats a calling.” And even when we were at our training someone said, “Will all the missionaries please stand up so we can pray for you?” And I thought, “Ooh yay! There’s missionaries in here! I hope I get to meet them” …. And then I realized he was talking about us. So I have come to two conclusions 1) that missionaries are not super humans. 2) I do have a calling.

Its super scary to put one of your dreams on the line and tell everyone you can and then deal with that deep, pit-of-your-stomach fear that, “Maybe I shouldn’t tell them I’m going cause what if it doesn’t work out.” And then there is the whole amazing aspect that people actually also think that this is a good idea, and are even willing to give us financial support to show it. Leaving work yesterday Joe and I walked by a good friend and we stopped to chat and she just casually mentioned that she had decided to join our monthly support team. I immediately hugged her (which her not-so-touchy self loved, I’m sure) and thanked her and thanked her. She said, “Stop, its not that big of a deal.” And I couldn’t find my words at the time but… yeah. Its a big deal. Its the biggest deal. Joe and I truly feel that the Lord is calling us to move to Greece, and she has decided to say, “Yes, I agree with that. I want to help you pursue your dreams, and pursue your calling.” I mean… that’s love, isn’t it? When someone says, “I see you, and I believe that God’s got you in a good spot. So here, let me join.” What?!?! Its crazy. Me? I get to do this? I know that support raising is going to be a journey full of ups and downs but right now I’m just beyond grateful for God’s provision, h0w he has given people extraordinary generosity, and that He is letting my calling also be my life dream. I am so humbled. So blessed. And so excited.

Where you go, I will go

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Just over a year ago Joe and I made our vows, committing to each other for the rest of our lives. I vowed to Joe that where he goes, I will go, where he stays, I will stay. And perhaps sooner than we were expecting, God has given us the chance to go. To go to new places, new people, new challenges, and new joys.

In January 2016 Joe and I had the opportunity to travel to Athens, Greece on a two week trip to work with disaster relief efforts with the refugees in Athens. This short trip impacted our lives in ways we never saw coming, and God has given us the opportunity to go back for a longer period of time.

When we were in Athens we connected so well with the missionary team that was there, and the work the Greek church was doing. It felt right, it felt natural. Near the end of our trip, the team there asked if we would be interested in coming back and we have been praying about it since.

Thousands upon thousands of refugees have been moving across the middle east, into Europe – a lot of them traveling or stopping in Greece. The Evangelical churches in Greece have come together to start a support center for refugees called The Center of Hope in Victoria Square. The center is one of the only UN declared safe spots for refugees in the entire country of Greece. The Greek believers also hope to plant a  new church in order to continue to welcome the refugees and immigrants into the Greek culture, and the church body.

When we were there Joe and I got to go to the port, where massive ships full of refugees were docking. It was the most chaotic, overwhelming experience of my life. But even in that moment, as families were rushing past me, freezing, hungry, and trying to get their families to safety, I knew that God had something in mind for me and Joe beyond our short trip. We are in an unprecedented time in world history for so many people from countries closed to the Gospel to make their way into countries where there is freedom of religion. How can we turn down the opportunity to be part of that story?

Joe and I have a heart to move toward people that are hurting and walk with them towards hope and healing, and the Lord has opened this door for that to be possible for us in a way we never saw coming. About a month ago we committed to join the Mission to the World (MTW) team in Athens, Greece led by Philip and Joy Kirkland. We have made a 2-3 year commitment. We have money to raise, visa’s to apply for, and logistics to navigate, but Lord willing we will leave when we are fully funded. I am honored to the point of tears to share this news with you. This site and blog are meant to share our story, and how we see God in the world, in ourselves, and in you if you want to join this journey with us. There is nothing we love more than to tell people about our mission to Greece. If you want to hear more about it- please reach out. You can also choose to follow our blog to stay up to date on where we are in the process.

Isaiah 6:8 “Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?” And I said, “Here am I. Send me!”