Sunday, December 15, 2013

Sleepless Airport Nights Make for Writing










A sleepless all-nighter in the airport has left my heart inspired, in need to write something, to write anything. 

I'm on the other side of four months serving with NOE International for the third time and as cliche as it might sound, this time has been the best yet. 

It hasn't been free from challenges, but I do think that is what makes these four months look so beautiful, because in the midst of the challenges- God has brought me out stronger. He has reminded me that He is all that I need to be certain of, that He is enough. 

If you ever told me that I would lose my heart to a country; I would have easily told you that you had lost your mind. 

If you had ever told me that one day I would be standing in front of a classroom sometimes forgetting that English is what I'm supposed to be speaking; I would have easily told you that would be impossible. 

You see, God has made the impossibilities into possibilities. 

He has used me, the unlikely, to do something bigger than I could have ever imagined.

The truth is, that since the first time I came to this unfamiliar He has changed parts of my heart entirely.

I speak up. I find myself spurred to branch out, instead of keeping to myself. I have something to give.

I sing. I find myself singing with a microphone in front of a hundred of people. I have a song to sing.

I teach. I find myself constantly seeking out ways to reach the harder to reach students. 

I administrate. I find myself being given more responsibilities and it thrills me. It absolutely thrills me. 

In these past four months, my heart has met so many dear students in need of love. I have been teaching seven classes and around ninety students per week. I've had conversations that I'm sure He entered into. I have spoken twice in youth group. I have been administering our child sponsorship program and I thankfully, amazingly finished sending out 250 Christmas cards to their sponsors and assigning new angels. 

I have been encouraged, because there's a peace here. There's a confidence that rests in my soul; it's no longer a labor to be here. Sure, it's work, but everyday I'm reminded of precisely why God has me here.  Dear ones, there's no greater feeling. I pray that you will find that kind of certainty with your passion; you deserve it. 

I could go on and on. There's so many sweet stories I have to tell you, but honestly there are some that are just sweeter to tell in person. So maybe our paths will cross soon, dear one. And if not, be expecting a little bit more of an update soon. Because for now the words are failing and the gratitude is brimming over. 

We just celebrated the Christmas season at the new NOE. The progress is breathtaking to see. The neighborhood that just months ago resisted our moving in, is now responding and showing up. 

We have officially been approved for the second round of construction at the new NOE. 

Two students have been baptized and our Monday night Bible Studies are growing. 

Oh, it's beautiful to be here. I'm overcome with gratitude. 

I'll be embarking on my third flight in two days. Next and last stop: Indiana for Christmas!












Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Dear Centro NOE & Max Lucado,


Dear NOE & Max Lucado,

These words of mine are long overdue, and honestly they’ve been sitting upon my heart for weeks, for months.

You see, Centro NOE, you have changed me.

God brought me to you, when I was a million pieces, certain that all I’d know for the rest of my life would be rejection.

I was feeble. I was weak when we first met.

And yes, some of your dear students remember those first few months as ones filled with silence, with a girl that seemed out of her element, one that would surely cherish the experience but wouldn’t return, because fear held her captive.

But on the last night, the goodbyes would be the most painful they’d ever been. They would rip out parts of my heart and withhold them from me until I returned.

And I would return, twice.

In fact, here I am.

I am no longer defined by rejection, nor held back by fear.
Yes, I am weak most of my days, but He is thankfully enough, He is my strength.

And most of all, I am home. These cobblestone uneven streets are all that I know; they are all that I want to know. These days spent in my second home, hours upon end, are all that I need. These students that challenge me to learn, to encounter joy in the simplest moments are all that I want.

NOE, you are home to me.

And yes, these months have challenged me, but there have been moments that have taken my breath away. Moments when former students come into my most difficult classes and pour out their hearts, vouching for me and supporting me with all that they are. Moments when the Directors, seek me out, give me more responsibilities and tell me that NOE can be home to me for however long that I like. And there are moments when the entire class caves into laughter over past participles, when students lose themselves in learning without even realizing it.

Moments when I must quietly remind myself that this life is my beautiful life to hold.

My dream has come to life before my very own eyes, and I’m here.

Ten years of praying, ten years of tears, ten years of missing, ten years of planning my perfect life.

Ten years of waiting. Ten. Worthwhile. Years.

And now my heart is full, because those ten years did not go to waste.

“His word is in my heart like a fire, a fire shut up in my bones. I am weary of holding it in; indeed I cannot.” Jeremiah 20:9

NOE, this is our third time together, and yesterday I took part in your inauguration, with tears trickling down my cheeks, because you are no longer just a chapter in a book to me, no you are apart of me.

And God made me for you, NOE. 

I am weary of holding it in, I cannot.

I was made for you. Long ago, when my plans were to hide at home in the company of silence, my God set me apart to speak another language, to move without certainty. And when I followed, my life changed, because He knew where I was always supposed to be.

Tears are relentless, just like your love, because I’ve stumbled onto something that I never want to lose. And my heart longs to be the difference, to be your hands and feet, to shout your love from the rooftops, to love to the tips of fingers. May you use me to use me up, sweet Jesus. USE ME TO USE ME UP.







Wednesday, October 9, 2013

this. is. your. day.


“The Lord will surely comfort Zion and will look with compassion on her ruins; he will make her deserts like Eden, her wastelands like the garden of the Lord. 
Joy and gladness will be found in her, thanksgiving and the sound of singing.”

Do you know what it’s like to hit the wall?

You are running with abandon, because you have a goal and mind…

And then all of a sudden, your breathing steadily becomes gasping, your feet are still moving, but your mind is telling you enough is enough, it’s telling you that today is not your day.

These words are being poured out and as I listen to Him speak, yes, He’s speaking:

He’s telling me to let go of the clich├ęs, the useless salve for our souls; He’s telling me that never once has He ever walked away. Never once has he ever uttered those senseless words of “its just not your day.”

I’m sitting here writing when I should be doing a million other things, but sometimes God would have us sit with him, instead. Sometimes he would rather us lay down and join him in silence, then offer up distracted prayers.

It’s one of those moments, when your head and your heart require something other than what you think you should be doing. One of those moments that He deems with another purpose.

And you can choose. You can choose to fight what He’s asking of you or you can let something of yours give; let it go. You can paint yourself with a myriad of lies: you’re not enough and this isn’t your day. Or you can wash yourselves in grace and truth: you’re enough and this is the day that the Lord has made. 

You can hit the wall and flee. Or you can keep moving, because His grace is enough.

And there’s today and the beauty of it all- is that this is the day that the Lord has made.

As I bring that hymn to life, the wooden pews come to mind washed in the morning light and I picture my Grandfather, his eyes beaming with life and joy, his voice carrying throughout the chapel over all the others.

And. I. Understand.

I understand why nearly every Sunday our voices sang that hymn, because Jesus never once said it wasn’t our day. He never once said we weren’t enough.

We are the guilty ones.
We are the ones that tell ourselves that we are mistakes, the ones that tell ourselves it's okay to give up, because today is not o
ur day.

So child, this is your day, because this is the day that the Lord has made.

What will your response be?

I’m praying that you won’t give up. I am praying that you’ll push through the wall, and that you’ll keep running, that you’ll keep fighting.

Because. You. Are. Worthy. 

Prayer.


So, I’m just going to be honest with you precious ones, my prayer warriors, the ones that I love…it’s been rough.

And when I say that, I’m still bent in gratitude, because I know that God is with me, that He is my strength when my knees give out, when I lay down.

For the teachers, I’m sure your heart is kin to mine- do you have ever have those days when nearly half of your class arrives late, refuse to listen and complain when you try to make things interesting? Yes?!


Well that has been my last week and a half. And each morning and night I have been waking up and going to bed with these students on my heart, seeking strength in prayer. And although they have gotten a little better, we are still far from where we should be.

·      Prayer is welcome for discernment and understanding and the needed strength.
·      Prayer is welcome for these students that are distracting and keeping others from understanding.
·      Prayer is welcome for patience, because if I’m honest I’m a little spent.
·      Prayer is definitely welcome, because I will be speaking in youth group this Friday night.

I’m sorry this is so short, but these are my heart's needs. 

More to come in the coming days.

Saturday, September 28, 2013

I'm found...


“I will extend peace to her like a river.”

Peace has wrapped me up in her arms, and I’m found again. 

I’m found in 737 Calle Tzintzunzan, a little house tucked off the streets, away from the wandering eye. 

I’m found in Centro NOE, a pale-skinned “guera” among a sea of faces with chocolate eyes, full hands and full heart. 

I’m found in friendships rekindled over the dinner table- mugs of steaming coffee and the sweetest of pastries, piles of tacos or a tower of fries.

I’m found in the bent-over singsong laughter of friends filling the dark streets on a walk home.

I’m found in the New NOE, tears brimming over, because there’s nothing quite better in this world, than being found. There’s nothing better than living with the quiet assurance that you are where you are, for a reason.

And though my days are busy and trying, there’s nothing more satisfying. I’ve been given seven groups of students to tend to for an entire year. I’ve been entrusted with being love in Centro NOE and in the streets that have become imprinted within my memory.

I’ve been found.

I saw what I saw and I never can go back.

I can never return to the mindset that “comfortable” is the home I should never leave. I can never become accustomed to never seeing a suitcase waiting to be filled. I can never go about my days without thinking of the people I’ve been given to love. Without heeding the mission I’ve been called to fill.

And so, life goes on here.

And so, His mercies fill me in the mornings and stay with me until the waning hours of sunlight.

Don’t you miss it, little one. Don’t you dare settle, do you hear me? There’s something around the bend, there’s light yet to be seen, there’s a clearing in your wilderness. You’ve been called, will you heed? You’ve been chosen, will you rise?
  
Fear. Shame. Doubt.

Have become…

Peace. Joy. Assurance.

Keep your hands empty, your arms open and your heart unlocked, child.

You’ve more to give.

I’ve more to give. And peace has been extended to me like a river.
For. I’m. Found.





 

I’m found in the unfamiliar, the distinctly foreign.

And my heart looks to this place as home, these people as mine.