This morning I was blessed to be able to be apart of the start of a college girls bible study. I was surrounded by sweet, brilliant, godly, modest, young women. It was truly wonderful and sparked something in me. A reminder. I'm not alone. Sometimes, as christians, its rough, even here in America. The bible speaks of a remnant, and I believe we are in those times. So many times, I feel like I'm utterly alone in my faith. But I'm not. And what an encouragement. During this bible study, we read through Proverbs 31, and as we read, one person came to mind over and over. The description of a fine, godly, woman was spoken aloud. "Her husband can trust her, and she will greatly enrich his life," "She gets up before dawn to prepare breakfast for her household and plans the days work," "She is clothed with dignity, and she laughs with no fear of the future." These are simply a few of the phrases thrown out in this Proverb. And they embody the woman my sister, Emily is. She is one of the godliest women I know. She takes care of her home and her children. She is able to be a godly influence in their lives, and an encouragement to her husband. She has an amazing way about her that seems contagious and I could spend hours with her. I've been blessed with two wonderful sisters. Both Ashley and Emily were godly influences on me as I grew up. It was like having two extra moms. Both are creative and talented and beautiful. Ashley has the ability to write the most captivating words, and she brings excitement to learning for her students. She is an amazing teacher, and mom, and wife. She also is a Proverbs 31 woman. They both, have always reminded me that virtue and modesty, are of the utmost importance. They are role models to me, still. And always have been. I love watching as they raise their amazing children. They are so full of energy, and they exude life. They love life. And I love them. It's unimaginable where I'd be without them. They helped mold me, and I believe I am the woman I am today, because of who they have been in my life.
I lead such a blessed life, all thanks to God, and his glory. And I am trying not to forget where these blessings come from.
It's nearly eleven a.m and I am sitting on my couch. At home. In Jacksonville. It's Wednesday. Today would be ABC day in VBS. This is so weird for me. I was so used to going going going, and now I sit. I welcome this relaxation, don't get me wrong, but I miss the movement. I miss the kids that brightened my day, and I miss the isolation that provided so much quiet time I could spend with my savior. But I look at this new kind of quiet as a challenge. When I was away on mission it was imperative for me to spend time in prayer and the word. When you're teaching, you need to be prepared. You need to be taking that time to be alone with God. But when you're home, the immediate need for it goes away. Or so it seems. But the need to spend time with Him never goes away. Or it never should. Now that I am no longer in the challenging environment of a summer missionary, my faith should be challenged just as much. And I want to rise and meet this head on. I want to continue to let God work in me and continue to reveal himself to me as he has. He challenged me personally, and showed me new convictions. And I want to take the work he did and continue it. I don't want to let it all fade away. There is no way I can truly convey my experiences from this summer, but I am determined to not let that stop me for living for Him. Now isn't the time to over-dwell on what God did in me this summer. It's time to move forward with this renewal and live for him. I am excited to see where God will take me through out this semester and the rest of the year! He is a good God. I am beyond blessed to know Him how I do.
Stealing a moment for wifi, and a cup of coffee, I reflect. Eight weeks has nearly come and gone and my time in beautiful SoFlo is up. It's bittersweet, really. Home is Jacksonville, for now. It's where all the wonderful people in my life are. (Well not all. Many are dispersed near and far), but most. It is where, church, school, and family are. But when I leave Naples I will be leaving bits of me here. There is a piece of my heart at Cyprus Lakes Baptist church in Ft. Meyers. There is a little bit of me in Lehigh Acres. Some of me remains in Miami at Miami Shores Baptist Church and Cutler Bay Baptist. I'm spread across East Naples and North Naples. My life is completely changed because of all this. God has shown me so much because I have had so much time to dwell in my time with him. He has revealed to me parts of where I want my future to go. He has shown me that I have passions for things I never suspected. He has taught me to let go every once in a while. Yes, I have relinquished some of my grip on control. I've learned flexibility. I've learned to love differently, and more deeply. But most of all I have learned to always always always rely on Him. For everything. Nothing is too big for him to take care of. Nothing is out of his grasp. Me mediocre problems are not too large for him to take on. He is always here. When all else fails, I have my faith. For those that do not have that, I am sad. I can't imagine living hopelessly, and without knowledge of the amazing, wonderful, and truly great God I serve. Life isn't always perfect. It's a mess. Most of the time. But He gives and He takes away. And He is sovereign. I have a purpose. God has got a lot for me to do. And I am following after Him and trusting in His path for me.
I'm not leaving this change here. I am taking home the new me. God doesn't do works in our lives for us to leave behind. He has me where I am for a reason and I will make the most of everyday. Because everyday is part of his plan for me. And that brings a smile to my face.
The past couple of weeks...
Sorry on my lack of SoFlo updates. It's been crazy and I have been trying to relax in muh spare time. This past week we were blessed to work with the sweet congregation at East Naples Baptist Church. Emily was able to see one of her youth saved, and called into missions. I was privileged to work with some of the sweetest and smartest Kindergarteners. All week God kept reminding me to remember his plan for everyone. Even these kids. Even He has a plan for them. And something special I am sure. It would be so easy to pass them by and simply say, "They are kids, so what." but they are so much. There was a boy and girl in my class this week that have suffered more in their short 2 and 5 years than I have in my nineteen. But Kaleb had such an attitude like Christ's. He has watched as his little sister has undergone countless surgeries, issues, and episodes. She is just two and has had numerous health issues, and can only eat through a tube still. But to see how he takes care of her is something special. He loves her so much. Both of them are motherless. Five and two years old. So why do we underestimate them? They have so much to give, but will most likely be cast off. Think about how you would feel, being thought less of, because of something out of your control, or because of your age. Old or young. It is truly something that God has been laying hard on my heart and a lesson I'm learning more about everyday. And I rejoice when he reveals Himself to me. I love it.
We have one more church to prepare for. We will be celebrating with the Korean church in Ft. Meyers this coming week and ask for more prayers and thoughts, please. We are excited for our last little opportunity. I even get to lead worship, which is my favorite. So, yes, prayers and whatnot. You guys are wonderful.
I'm reminded daily how underestimated I am. People see a nineteen year old girl teaching their kids in VBS, and I often times get that same skeptical glance. A look that screams, "can you really do this?" or "are you actually qualified for this responsibility?" It's frustrating and challenging all at once. And it has taught me something. Never underestimate someone based on their age.
First Timothy 4:12 says, Don't let anyone think less of you because you are young. Be an example to all believers in what you say, in the way you live, in your love, faith, and purity. (NLT)
Watching the kids these past couple of weeks has blown my mind. I see so much potential in each in every face. They are apart of the smartest generation that has ever been and I strongly believe it's up to us to equip them correctly. We need to step up and invest in the lives of the children around us. Not just for education and success, but for spiritual growth, too. If we let them be they will never have the Godly role models they need and they wont have someone pushing them in the right direction. But we also shouldn't constantly take control. To create leaders, we must let them lead. We shouldn't squelch their potential. We should tend it, and water it and help it grow. Its up to us to prepare these kids and get them to where they need to be.
That is my short rant for the week that I wanted to share. Take it to heart.
Now a quick report from SoFlo. Thank you all for your continued prayers as we have been working. Things are going well for my team this week. We have been blessed with an amazing church in Lehigh Acres. The drive is long, but the nights are worth it. We feel God is really doing something with us, and we pray we just stay emptied of us so He can fill us with Him. Only two and a half weeks left till we are back among family and friends, but I think we will all be changed in some way or another. My life and outlook is different now. In a good way. And I pray this change sticks to me. Keep praying that we see this all through with the same vigor we held at the beginning of summer. Thank you all so much for your continued support. We would be nothing without your prayers and love. Love you all.
Just a little update from the SoFlo. I am sitting here at a Starbucks, gazing out the window, and doing some good thinking. Just like the good little indie kid I am. And in my thinking I am dwelling on today's date. Possibly over dwelling, but if you know me, you know I over think absolutely everything. But anyway. Today is July 7, 2011. For some, its any other day. For me, its been a day to ponder for the past three years.
As many of you know and experienced, three years ago today, the world lost two beautiful, talented, Godly, wonderful, people. Three years ago today, one of my very best friends I've ever known was taken far too soon. Three years ago today, I lost a lady I looked up to, and went to for Godly council. But three years later, I still see God's hand in the whole thing.
Things that I will never forget about Ben.
His hugs, which is obvious. We all knew him for that.
His outlook on life. He was of the "Don't worry, be happy" breed. And we all envied that.
His advice. Even at three in the morning, when normal people sleep.
His quickness to say "I love you" no matter how big your disagreement was.
I'll never forget, sitting in a lodge on Beech Mountain. My brother, Kyle Hannah, had just given a sermon that left our youth group different for a long time. People were seeing sin in their lives and they were ready to get rid of it. Ben was one of them. I had long gone upstairs and was lounging on that big comfy couch by the fire when he approached me, tears his eyes. He could hardly get out his apology he wanted to give me. He told me he was ready to make a change in his life and live for God. And indeed there was a change. That was a life changing moment for me, too.
He brought me Mcdonalds lunch to school all the time, because I was always afraid to skip. He never missed my birthday or half birthday, which he insisted on celebrating. I cherish the days towards the end of sophomore year. Myself, Kasey, Shelby, and Ben would spend so much time, chatting in the library, while we were supposed to be working. We had some of the most fulfilling conversations. I miss those days. I miss him.
Mrs. Lisa always blew me away with her extensive knowledge of music. I will never forget our mission trip in Baltimore. We were in the decrepit club as we called ourselves. I had hurt my wrist and lost my voice. She transposed all the music I had to sing and play, in a matter of seconds. She was never without a smile and an encouraging word. I will never forget the Godly advice she gave me in some very formative years of my life.
All of this feels like it was yesterday. The hurt of losing them is still more real that I can believe. But I know it wasn't for nothing. The fact that, still, three years later, we are talking about the impact they had in our lives. Emotionally and spiritually. They led lives that were for Christ and left a legacy of that behind them. They are gone now. We all miss them so much, but a lesson can be learned here. Live your life for Christ now. Don't wait. They didn't. You may not have tomorrow to share Jesus with your lost friends. You may not have till tomorrow to tell those in your life you love them. Take nothing for granted. Life is indeed short. Live it now.
Sorry for a more heavy post. It was on my heart. Stay tuned within the next week for a VBS update, but for now, go live for Him. We aren't promised tomorrow.
Last week was a rough one to say the least. I was struggling personally with some things and my team was struggling with where God had placed us. We were running ragged with two churches a day, one being over an hour away from home. Our morning church was a gift and a blessing. We were working in preschool (I know, right?) and the workers assembled in that area were phenomenal. We were making connections with our kids and God was doing something big, per His usual. Then we hop in good old Tank and take off down i 75 (aka, our new and closest friend.) We drive and drive and drive and drive. It took absolutely FOREVER to get to our evening church and we were worn out by the time we got there. We had driven through an absolute monsoon and the sky was falling. We prayed in the car and ascended on day one of Beach Blast. The church was small with few kids, which is always okay! Where two or more are gathered, ya know. We are acquainted with our helpers and the staff and we were off, working with more awesome poeple. But my heart was not there and I was struggling and I was tired. And I could tell I wasn't alone. The week wore on and we continued our mission, suffering through lightening storm after lightening storm as we wore out the highway. It was wearing me thin, because, to be honest, it was way more work than I was used to. But I prayed through it, as did Emily. We prayed together and separately. We prayed for each other by name. We prayed for our fellow teammates, facing hard weeks, too. We prayed a lot. And never in my life have I felt a closer to my Jesus. It is amazing what happens when we do what He has commanded us. I was so spiritually, emotionally, and physically drained, but He gave me the strength I needed for each day. He kept me moving, even when I felt like I couldn't keep on. He is so so good. I kept asking for him to reveal to me why we were where we were (mouthful, I know. Sorry.) In the last couple of days he made it resoundingly clear. It was a little girl named Samantha and a young mom with the sweetest child. Samantha is autistic and probably cast aside a lot, because of how different she is. But when I took time with her, I found a sweet young girl, with a lot to offer, and no outlet. By the last day, Emily had her participating in games. My heart was blessed. So blessed in fact that I was watching all this take place with tears in my eyes. Yes, me, crying. Doesn't happen often, but I love when He breaks me down to that point. Revelation number one. And there is more to that story, but I will get to that later. We also met a young mom, whose husband is in the Navy. She was such a blessing to us both, and we were definitely not ready to say goodbye. Then my amazing God opened a door. She is close friends with the coordinator of another VBS we are working at. She is going to help out there, too. We were exhausted and burnt out, (my dramatic self even went and got sick) but we left last week feeling like the Spirit really was working. It is an amazing thing to see Him actively at work. I will wrap up the blabbering portion of this blog shortly. God provides and prayer is so vital and beneficial, if we really put our whole selves into that communication. Its important to talk to God. And how privileged are we that we get to talk to the creator of the universe?
In my own personal me time last week and the week before, I was struggling with direction with where I am going. I was getting a little self centered in thought to be honest. But I'm only human. So I took it to Him in prayer. I wrote it all out and laid it down in front of Him. He's answering my prayers here and there bit by bit and reminding me to be patient. He is showing me Jeremiah 29:11. A lot. He has a plan for me. I need not get ahead of Him. I would love to have a plan for my future, but I really don't. It is something I am working on. He knows and that is all that matters. He is showing me things. I am blessed he is working with me on this. So that was just a side matter, anyway. I'm going to wrap this up.
There is power in Prayer. Don't let that become yet another christian cliche. Put some real effort into a prayer life with Him. Keep a journal or a log of your prayers and look back and see how he worked in those situations. It is an amazing process and I guarantee you'll never feel closer. Communication is key in any relationship. Most importantly in one with your Savior. Spend time talking to Him.
Hey there, everyone. I promise I wont blog this much all summer, but I am overwhelmed and I wanted to share with my friends. Last night at VBS was the ABC's of becoming a christian night. I poured over my lesson. I prepared and prepared and prepared. I had ideas and I knew the material. I was beyond ready to share the gospel with my kids. I was prayed up, studied up, and ready to go. Then I began to share the story of Nicodemus with the kids. They were so distracted and it really threw me off. Satan was trying so hard to squelch the spirit. I go to share the ABC's and the kids were not into it at all. I was so beyond discouraged, but I pressed on through the lesson. Let me tell you what, never in my life have I been happier to get to the craft portion. I was defeated. I extended an invitation, but the kids looked at me like I was crazy. I thought to myself, that I had failed and missed an opportunity to lead someone to Christ.
I was sitting at the tables helping some of the kids with the craft. One of my girls, Madison, starting asking me about sin, getting saved, and baptism. She had tons of questions. Good questions. Hard questions. My spirit lifted a little. If one kid started thinking about it, even, I had done something. But there was my problem. It wasn't about what I did. But I'll get to that. A couple minutes later, another one of my girls approached me. She wanted to know how to ask Jesus into her life. We went outside and she expressed that she knew she was a sinner, believed in God, and was ready to turn away from sin and get saved. I asked her a lot of questions. I waned to be sure this was for real. She was beyond ready so we prayed and she accepted Jesus into her life. And she was so excited. I was reminded of childlike faith and my heart was seriously overjoyed. I walked her back in to finish up her craft and Madison was waiting for me. We also went out to talk. Without even having to ask, she told me she knew she was a sinner, and she hadn't invited Jesus into her life. We prayed and while I was praying for her, God hit me hard in the face with this realization.
HE DOESN'T NEED ME.
But He wants to use me. And what a humbling experience. He can use a stuttering, crazy, babbling, nineteen year old, to further his kingdom. He used me. Me of all people. He didn't need me at all. And it had nothing to do with any of the things I said. It was all him speaking through me. I was his mouthpiece, and despite myself, kids still got save. And let me tell you. I had nothing to do with it. Praise God and all the glory be to Him.
I'm still praying revival breaks out in the church we're serving at. God is going to do something big. I can feel it. I just need to continue to be a humble carrier, letting him do all the work. Thanks for reading and continue to pray. He is working!