Monday, November 30, 2015

And Today Marks Twenty-Five Years of Life

[**Just a few days after drafting this post, my dad passed away unexpectedly and I forgot about having written it. Tonight as I read this post for the first time since then, it is so hard to trust the Lord's timing in all of this! But, I WILL wait on Him and hope in Him and trust Him and am SO thankful for this Truth, even in this hard season.]

Isn't it funny, how a quarter of the way into this thing, I am convinced I know less then I did when I first began. As I reflected on my post from a year ago, tears streamed heavy and thick. Honestly, that about sums up this past year of life over here.

Really, really hard. And really, really glorious.

James tells us about a joy we can choose through trials that produces a steadfastness within us. The Lord has been truly gracious to supply ample opportunities to practice this in my life this year, in ways I never would have asked for nor expected.
So for a rambling snapshot of the year--

The new year began with a brokenness quite unlike any I had ever known, when the man who pursued me to the point of marriage chose to step away from the relationship quite unexpectedly. The pain and questions ran deep, and for months all I could muster up was a resounding, "And if not, the Lord is still good." It wasn't what I ever would have expected for my story, but Jesus has taught me to walk with Him in a way I hadn't before, and through that season He really has become more precious to me then my daily bread.

With the spring, sprung a new job! After two sweet and exhausting years of nannying for a dear family, I said my final goodbye as I transitioned into a job that God had been preparing me for for several years, long before it even became a "dream job" for me. A season of inviting others to partner with me in this new job both financially and prayerfully, brought the greatest joy of glimpsing the Kingdom come here on earth and deepened my faith. God provided quite boldly and allowed over sixty families & individuals to transition into this new role right alongside me!

The fall brought hundreds of new students to good 'ole Fayetteville from all the corners of the world and  now I got the great privilege of helping them transition into life here at the University of Arkansas while also casting vision for others to come join me and do likewise!

By far the absolute greatest joy of this twenty-fourth year of life has been getting to pour my life into these beloved students who have become very dear to me. As you can imagine leaving your family, friends, culture, language and all that is familiar behind and coming to a brand new place on your own can be so overwhelming. Our Monday night "Village" in the dorm and Thursday night "Supper and Seeking" at my house have become a refuge of sorts, where some of these friends can unload before one another and a Father many don't yet know--time I so cherish each week. I have learned more about God's heart through these who He's made dear to me and am so blessed to be entrusted by Him as an ambassador of reconciliation among them.

This year took me overseas again, this time to a Desert in Africa where a woman who had never heard of Jesus trusted in Him for the very first time. During that time, God solidified a desire He put in me years ago, to give my life to a group of people in this area of the world who have also never heard. Now, onto tackling the Arabic language this year!

My adopted family welcomed another miracle baby girl (and she is precious!) and next month the oldest of my "lil sisters" says "I do!" God's great grace and faithfulness has been on display so boldly in this family and I am humbled and grateful for the way He brought them into my life FOUR crazy years ago!

My own dad continues to fight his alcoholism as several serious health risks seem to be catching up to him. There's no communication between us these days, though we did have lunch when I was home this summer which further confirmed his inability to play a healthy role in my life right now. Last month (while in Africa) my grandpa passed away unexpectedly which has brought great pain for my sweet momma and our family. And even today, it's strange to think I won't be getting a phone call from him to celebrate. The sting of death lingers some, but we know those in Christ grieve as those with a greater hope.

I'm so thankful for my church body and how dear they continue to be to me. Getting to work between the church and a campus ministry has brought SO much learning this year, and I'm grateful. I'm blessed to do life with some amazing families and beloved friends. Tuesday nights have become my time of refuge, rejoicing, and realness before the Father and among some whom are more then just good friends--they are my people in this season and I praise God for them.

Another year come and gone and now here I am twenty-five and Facebook just informed that this is the year the human body begins to die. The past few weeks of life have left me continually faced with that reality, as I groan inwardly waiting eagerly for that final adoption and redemption of this [dying] body!

Of course, hope that is seen is not hope. But, if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience. Truthfully, my patience is wearing down. So of course, going into this twenty-fifth year, the Lord says: WAIT.

Wait for me. Wait for the pain of your broken heart to ease. Wait for the morning to come after that sleepless night. Wait for the season of darkness and oppression to lift. Wait for God to provide. Wait for the fall semester to close and a new one to begin. Wait for Him to point out people of peace. Wait for dear friends to accept the Truth of the Gospel as you share. [yes, even week after week, month after month, year after year.] Wait for the man I have set apart just for you. [and don't settle because you are MINE.] Wait for the day of raising up babies that belong to you. Wait on your call to go overseas. Wait on my provision of community and heart-friends. Wait until the day you will fully know your belonging. Wait and you will see my face. Wait, for I am still good. Wait for full on redemption. Waiting, waiting, waiting.

Last year I shared God's promise found is Psalm 52, and I claimed it going into my twenty-fourth year of life.

 But I am like a green olive tree
in the house of God.
I trust in the steadfast love of God
forever and ever.
 I will thank you forever,
because you have done it.
I will wait for your name, for it is good,
in the presence of the godly.
                                   [Psalm 52]

Little did I know, He wasn't planning to use it the way I thought. But looking back now, I'm tearful over His faithfulness that even when I had no idea waiting would become such an enormous part of this year, I know I will WAIT for His name, for it is GOOD. So, I wait with eyes on what I don't yet see, the eternal, because I know this thing doesn't end with what I can see (and praise God for that, right?!) This doesn't end with me waiting forever. You and me--we're being prepared for an eternal weight of glory in fact.

For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal. [2 cor. 4:17-18]

 For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us. For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God. [Rom. 8:18-19]

But as for me, I will look to the Lord; I will wait for the God of my salvation; my God will hear me. Rejoice not over me, O my enemy; when I fall, I shall rise; when I sit in darkness, the Lord will be a light to me! [Micah 7:7-8]

Therefore, the Lord waits to be gracious to you, and therefore He exalts Himself to show mercy to you. For the Lord is a God of justice; blessed are all those who wait for Him. [Isa. 30:18]

I wait for the Lord, my soul waits, and in His word I hope. [ps. 130:5]

I believe that I shall look upon the goodness of the Lord in the land of the lving! Wait for the Lord; be strong, and let your heart take courage and wait for the Lord! [Ps. 27:13-14]

My prayer for this year--that His Word will continue to be alive and active and I will hunger for it more then anything else. Oh Lord, help me to be so fully satisfied in you as I wait, and please be my LIGHT in this season!

And a word of encouragement from Piper--"So take these truths and PREACH them to your mind until your heart sings with confidence that you are new and cared for."

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