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.

“Prayer for Spiritual Strength”

14 For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, 15 from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named, 16 that according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being, 17 so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith—that you, being rooted and grounded in love, 18 may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, 19 and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.

The Holy Bible: English Standard Version (Wheaton: Standard Bible Society, 2016), Eph 3:14–19.

Normal Anxieties

Remember how I was excited about getting back to my goals? Well, I ended up catching a cold. Coughing, sneezy, runny nose, body aches. So much for watching my diet and exercising. Haven’t eaten much. Haven’t moved much. Pretty much sucks. This kind of sick just has to run its course. It better hurry up, because I’ve got stuff to do!

One week until I start seminary school. Later this week is orientation. I’m super excited to get started already! I’m ready to learn! I’m also getting nervous. What if it’s too hard? What if I can’t keep up? What if I fail? These are normal anxieties. A lot of people feel this way when they step up to something big. But that’s why they’re big dreams. Not everyone has the courage, will, and determination to do it. So here I am, making my attempt, answering the call. And I will be successful. It’s a path that I’m ready to take on. Each step will lead me to bigger and bright things in the future.

 

“May God be gracious to us and bless us
and make his face to shine upon us, Selah
that your way may be known on earth,

your saving power among all nations.”
(Psalm 67:1–2)

“Arise, shine, for your light has come, and the glory of the Lord has risen upon you.”
(Isaiah 60:1)

The Mountain Air

The last couple of days have been especially rough. I could not see any break of light. I was trapped in the black thicket of my mind. I asked my parents to take me to the hospital because I didn’t feel safe from myself. I couldn’t go to work. My mom had to drive me to work, and I still couldn’t go in. Again I said I needed to go to the hospital. I feel ashamed of that. I feel like I should have been able to get a hold of myself. But I couldn’t. Did I not have enough courage? Did I not have enough strength? Was I not trying hard enough? How I must have let them down. They must have lost respect for me. As a business, how can they trust me? I’m not reliable. If I can’t work, how can I do anything else? These thoughts are plaguing me. How can I express these feelings to my employer? Should I even disclose it? These questions go unanswered.

But. I’m doing better. We didn’t go to the hospital. I’ve been continuing to go to the gym. It’s so hard, but it gives me a sense of accomplishment. I’ve lounged in my pajamas for half the day, but haven’t succumbed to sleeping. Went out for coffee, went errand shopping. Laid down and read a book. Essentially I’ve been avoiding stress. Not sure if that’s good, or? I haven’t confronted my negative feelings. I can think about it now though. My parents’ love over the last few days shows me how much my parents so care for me. They’ve dropped everything to help me feel better. My mom made me breakfast. She took me out to lunch. She bought me some office supplies (which I secretly love). I’ve been bombarded with love.

I’m avoiding writing about how God fits into this picture. Anything I can think to say is so cliché. But it doesn’t make it any less true. I’m trying to come up with a better way to say this. God has been like clear mountain air. You’re hiking through the mountains, enjoying the scenery and all the beautiful trees, and peaks out in the distance. You’re breathing the air and it’s beautiful. On the trail you see some bear scat. And you get scared. It’s fresh. It stinks, it’s in the middle of the path. There’s a bear nearby. So you proceed with caution. Maybe you even see the bear. But all around you is still the mountain air. You can count on it. It has never left you. So you keep going. Soon enough the air is fresh again. The pine trees and the mountain laurels are perfume. You realize how satisfying the air is to your lungs. You breathe it in and feel full of joy. And you keep going on your journey trusting that the air will always be with you. He is the breath of life. A that’s just one piece of God.

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.

I Am So Selfish

I am so selfish. I am very self centered. And I’m very possessive. I know this about myself. I’m always trying to find what’s best for me in any situation. I want to know how I can be benefitted by doing different tasks for activities. Going out with friends will benefit me because I get out of the house, and perhaps learn a few more things about my friends because I like to collect information about people. What’s in it for me? Acquiring knowledge just to have, to make myself feel smarter and impress those people later with the trivia I remembered. I have things that are mine and mine alone. Anyone else using my things must use them with caution and must put it back exactly where they got it from. You can use my pen, but you must recap it properly, it must not have leaked, and you must put it back in the same pencil case from where I got it out from. I’m particular with my things. Food is mine too. You can’t have my food, because it’s mine. I saved that piece. This is my road. Why are you driving on it? You are allowed to drive on this road if you drive the same speed as me. Otherwise get off my road. Man, I could go on.

I’m a very selfish person. Everything has to be about me. Conversations with my parents are always about me. Conversations with my brother are always about me. Conversations inevitably turn into something about me. And generally I accept it and go on because I have a listener. I enjoy telling people about myself. But I don’t like this about me.

I’m trying to get better. I’m doing my best to turn my attention to the person I’m talking to and ask them questions about themselves. And only give brief anecdotes about myself, keeping the focus on them. People feel comfortable speaking about themselves. Gaining insight about who they are helps me to pray to God on their behalf.

I’m starting to come around to letting people share some of my stuff. I can’t think of an example right now, but I’m sure there was something. I’m trying to make sure my relationships revolve around who God is and what He’s doing in their lives so that we can praise Him and not ourselves.

All these changes have happened because of the grace that Jesus has given me. It’s repentance. I’m beginning to turn away from my old ways to turn to Jesus’s way. His way is loving, generous, good, kind, humble, beautiful & without selfish ambition. Since this is way, I must conform to it. And what a wonderful set of qualities to conform to. These are things that bring us true joy and delight in God and His grace. What else do you need to ask for? God is good.