Brazil

Got back from Brazil this week. Our church does a short term mission trip there every year. It was my first year to go and it was incredible. I’m still trying to process everything.

It was so cool to see how God answered prayers while we were there. We even got to see some of the fruits of our work while we were there. There were some rough times for me personally but overall it was just wonderful and I can’t wait to go back next year.

I might write something more detailed about the trip at some point in the future. I’ll have to plan it out.

Isaiah 43:2

“When you pass through the waters, I will be with you;
    and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you;
when you walk through fire you shall not be burned,
    and the flame shall not consume you.”

Isaiah 43:2 ESV

 

Camping in the Ouchitas

This story begins with an idea that started with a thought. The idea was that we go on this backpacking trip. We get all our gear together. We gotta plan the routes. Find out our water cache locations. And then hit the trail. Shouldn’t have been a big problem. And in the end it wasn’t a big problem at all. We arrived Thursday night at 1 or 2 AM and slept in the car. In the morning we looked for the water cache locations but it was taking a long time. We decided to give up on trying to find the water cache locations an instead get some campsites for the rest of the length of our stay. We arranged that quite easily. Two of us went on a short 3 mile hike,. While I stayed at camp and rested after the relative chaos of the past few weeks. Saturday we hiked 8 miles. 2.5 to the Potato Hill Vista. Then we continued on to our 4 mile marker. We ate our lunch and then head back just in the nick of time before it got completely dark. It was a great hike, getting us right back to our campsite. So much fun! Sunday we did a shorter hike. Three miles around the lake. Leisurely. But we were still tired. And glad that we only did 3, anymore it would have been excessive. From there we drove out to Panorama Vista to see the sunset. It was beautiful and worth it.

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We talked about our journeys through life. We made sarcastic jokes. We got along well. We talked about Jesus. It was a good time to connect and learn about our group. It wasn’t the trip that I had planned. But it was the trip that we needed to do. And I still want to go backpacking with these girls sometime in the future. God always knows his plan, and God is always putting his plan into action. We just have to go along with it. The next trip will be different, but it’s going to be wonderful.

“Jesus & a Latte: Evangelism Over Coffee”

Two cups of coffee. Two lattes actually. Two rose flavored lattes to be specific. So delicious. I mean, just yum. So good. I highly recommend a rose latte or two.

Today was a rather weird but good day. Not sure what kind of head space I’ve been in all day. I’ve been feeling pretty good lately. But while I was on my way to meet a friend I suddenly started feeling pretty down. I was thinking about some past relationships, and it just really bummed me out. Got me into thought patterns about not being good enough. This is pretty typical of me, and I don’t know where it stems from. Meeting up with my friend was good though. We had a good conversation about some of this. We reminded each other about how much God loves us.

Rose Latte. It was sweet, but not too sweet. Definitely flowery. I had asked the barista if they still had the Lavender Latte. He picked up the lavender syrup to show me that they always have it. As he was putting it back I noticed a bottle that had pink petals on it, so I asked, “Is that rose syrup?” Sure enough. He looked at me strange as if a rose latte was weird. But I am here to tell you that a Rose Latte is like, the best thing, ever. Now I have to go buy rose flavored syrup to make rose lattes at home. I’ll have to separate it into smaller bottles to take with me whenever I go to a coffee shop, and spike up my latte with rose syrup.

It’s not simply that Jesus loves me. He does. But what that means is that he wants to care for me. He wants me to spend my time with him. He wants to see me succeed in the plans that he has laid out for me. He calls me beautiful. He calls me his own. He calls me worthy. He gives me grace when I mess up. He loves me even when I forget about him. He pursues me because he needs me. He gave his life for me. He says what he means and means what he says. He listens when I’m sad. He comforts me when I cry. He sings with me when I’m joyful. He’s happy when I’m happy. Because he loves me.

Rose Latte. Highly recommended. The latte chose me. It was meant to be. Jesus. Highly recommended. Jesus chose me. It was meant to be. Jesus and a latte do not equal each other. But maybe that should be the name of my book, “Jesus & a Latte: Evangelism Over Coffee.”

 

My Take on Judges Ch. 2

“And they abandoned the LORD, the God of their fathers, who had brought them out of the land of Egypt. They went after other gods, from among the gods of the peoples who were around them, and bowed down to them. And they provoked the LORD to anger.” (Judges 2:12)

The book of Judges goes through several stories after the rule of Joshua during which there was peace and obedience to the Lord. During this time the Israelites had forgotten all the things that the Lord had done during Joshua’s time. They were a generation that was corrupted by the world around them. They served other gods above the Lord.

“Whenever the LORD raised up judges for them, the LORD was with the judge, and he saved them from the hand of their enemies all the days of the judge. For the LORD was moved to pity by their groaning because of those who afflicted and oppressed them. But whenever the judge died, they turned back and were more corrupt than their fathers, going after other gods, serving them and bowing down to them. They did not drop any of their practices or their stubborn ways.” (Judges 2:18-19)

These Israelites literally served other gods. Idol worship existed in every household at that time. Although the god of the Israelites asked them to follow only him, they went their own way and basically tried to assimilate into this local culture and it brought them destruction.

In our world today idol worship means a very different thing. In our world we worship wealth, prosperity, power, relationships, careers, sports teams, politics, hobbies, comfort, all these things. You could add a multitude to this list of things that we put above god.

Now, there’s this story in the New Testament about a Samaritan woman at a well that meets Jesus. (See John 4:16-26). They chat a bit. They talk about worship. Jesus says to the woman, “You worship what you do not know; we worship what we know, for salvation is from the Jews. But the hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father is seeking such people to worship him.” (John 4:22-23)

The Old Testament God was angry. “Whenever [the Israelites] marched out, the hand of the LORD was against them for harm, as the LORD had warned, and as the LORD had sworn to them. And they were in terrible distress” (Judges 2:14). But god keeps giving them rulers (judges) to bring them back to himself. He gives them chances to be redeemed and forgiven.

In the story of Jesus and the Samaritan, he is telling her that worship should be directed at the Father and no one or thing else. Everything else is a false idol when we put them above god. They can be tools to bring others to god, but they cannot replace god. Plus these idols do not have the ability to forgive our sins the way Christ can. Ultimately we are all ruled and judged by Christ himself and he is good, forgiving, and gracious. The story of the Israelites and the Judges is what we deserve when we are disobedient. When Christ died, he was sacrificed with all of our sins on him so that we no longer bear them. We are free from the wrath that the LORD would have put upon us. Because he has already done it by sacrificing his son.

Women’s Conference Weekend

I am not a “girly girl.” I am not a tomboy. I’m not a woman’s woman. I don’t even know what any of that means. I wouldn’t consider myself as an advocate for women. But the fact remains that I am indeed a woman. And so, as such, I went to the church’s Women’s Conference.

I found myself amongst all these women who were there to connect with each other in a way that was exclusively for us. I don’t know that I would have gone to it if I hadn’t been asked to serve. A giant group of women isn’t the kind of environment into which I would volunteer myself. In fact, of all the conversations I could have had the first night, two were with two of the only four men there, and the third was with another woman who doesn’t consider herself a girly girl. What does that say about me? I have no idea.

The second day was a bit different in the sense that I knew what to expect. I took so many notes throughout all the talks. I had heard so many wonderful thoughts about life in general and what it means to be a “Woman of God.” I identified with a lot of what was said, especially regarding suffering and racial reconciliation. But I couldn’t identify with everything.

Half the day was focused on relationships, being single versus married. I realize that a large proportion of women worry about these things, myself included. And yes, I realize that a women’s conference is designed for us to be able to talk to other women about what’s going on in our lives. But can’t we talk about other aspects of our lives through our special womanly world view? I’m tired of everything being so focused on relationships or lack thereof. Is that all we are? Half the population trying to figure out their place in the world based on their relationship to the other half of the population? I’m so sick of it. I’d rather talk more about what makes us individuals created in God’s image.

I want to talk about how we can serve our God better. I want to know what my career looks like through the light of the Gospel. I want to think about each day with the joy that God has created me for His good works and I want to act that out. I want to learn about what it looks like to live a missional life. I want to focus on living each day in worship to our creator. I just want to talk about loving God as a unique individual in a community of believers. And I want to talk about these things with other women who may or may not be in a relationship. It shouldn’t define us. God defines us by his design. So let’s celebrate that and have discussions about how we do life as women who loves Jesus.

 

 

Colossians 3:12-17

Happy first day of October! Today was baptism Sunday at church. Seventeen people were baptized, immersed in water, publicly proclaiming Christ as their Lord. It was beautiful. In that spirit, I wanted to share this passage from Colossians 3:12-17 (ESV).

“Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God. And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.”