Wednesday, January 28, 2015

a letter to his beloved ones...

"Surely this is our God; we trusted in Him, and He saved us. 
This is the Lord, we trusted in Him, let us rejoice and be glad in His salvation."
Isaiah 25:9

"Sometimes what we want is just to be heard. 
We want to know that they've actually listened to us." -Bell

I may be the only one that these words were written for, today, but I'm just not that sure. So if you are feeling like you are sitting in His silence, I pray that these words would find you and tell you that you are not alone. The beautiful thing about our Savior is that….He always meets us right where we are.

Oh child, don't dig your own cistern. What you have planned down to perfection doesn't even begin to match what I have for you. My best is better that you can even imagine and while you fear what you cannot see and what you cannot hold- 

I  a  m  f  o  r  y  o  u. 

I have redeemed your rejection.  

I have healed your heartache and I am mending your mess. 

Stop fearing and stop fleeing, child, you are meant to be here in this very place and well, what you are feeling is okay. Don't you be ashamed of this,   i   t   '   s   o   k   a   y. 

What is not okay is hushing your heart, forbidding your voice to speak up. You were not made to be silent, child of mine. I have words set apart for you, alone. Your story cannot be replaced by anyone else's.  S   T   O   P.  just breathe. 

Just be and rest in my many promises, they are for your taking. 

I know you are feeling as though you are giving up too much of yourself and letting too many people into your heart. I know you feel as though your past has caught up to you. But unclench those fists and realize that I am guarding your heart and I am with you. 

Yes, know that you can't even imagine the beautiful future that awaits you. You just can't, love. Be still. Stop defining your present with your past and just trust, trust that you cannot limit me and that I refuse to be sealed in a box of your messy idea of perfection. Instead I will redeem your ruins and I will make something beautiful out of this and I will make something beautiful out of you. 

Unclench your trembling fists and take my hand, dear child. 

I a m r i g h t h e r e. 

My purpose for you and that precious, fearful heart of yours will and is being accomplished for you. I will have my way in you, just trust me. 

I see you, love. 

I know you have hidden your desires from most and I know even more so, that you have spent years hiding from them, yourself. But dear child, it is okay to recognize your desires. It's okay to long for something, just let me be your first love. When you do this, you will begin to realize that your desires were always a part of who I made you to be. However, the best thing you can do is give them back to me. 

My timing is perfect. 

Stop living out of expectations and step into faith, dear one. 

I am taking you to the other side and you will not be left, do you hear me?

You will not be left. 

Your past does not define your present, nor does it define your future. 

I know you, love. I know that confusion is trying to take your eyes off of me, but don't love, look to me, trust me. 

I h a v e y o u r h e a r t

I a l w a y s w i l l 

Monday, January 19, 2015

and so are small beginnings...

I had a student quietly whisper over the commotion outside that his New Year's Resolution was to find Jesus…and just as quickly as he said it, it faded into existence, but I stowed that resolution away for keeps. Prayers fumbled from my heart to mind, and I asked Jesus to make this my student's year.

My little dreamers spent Tuesday declaring dreams for the new year and then they prayed over each other, when finished one of my students gently said, "this is the first time I've ever prayed before." We celebrated her victory like a home-team is supposed to and then Thursday when a student took over the teaching, the same girl declared that this would be the year that she starts to read her Bible.

My dear adults found their way back to class and ended up admitting that although they were reluctant to come in the beginning, that now there isn't any other place they would rather be on Tuesdays. We had a student observing whether or not he wanted to register and the other adults mentioned how our class is so much more than English, how it's the fellowship, the verse we see each week, and talking about God.

My little light that I call my daughter had heavy eyes the other day, so I wrote her a little note and she admitted that she didn't do as well in school this past semester, while tears fell from her eyes. Jesus nudged me to speak truth and even though he knows how unconfident I am about praying in a second language, He told me that this was one such moment.

In the past couple of classes, we have had the case of relentless giggles and while this is the last thing a teacher wants to tell you…I'm telling you, anyways, sure I have no idea the reason for the contagious laughter and we probably have laughed more than we have seen English, but I think sometimes Jesus wants to remind us that it is okay to lose it in laughter, it's okay to be so full of joy, that it gets out of control.

There have been afternoons this week when I have been able to rest and relish in His faithfulness and just sit in awe at the beauty that is, Him making us brave. I am in awe of how He turns something so small into something so beautiful.

Let's celebrate small victories. 

I have been here over a week now and well, the beautiful thing is that these things started happening the day I returned to the classroom. I believe it is God's way of telling me that I'm right where I need be, that yes, although my heart longs to fix things and give immediate answers, that sometimes the "me too" or the silence you offer someone who needs to be heard, does more than you could ever imagine.

I wonder how many times we miss the moments, because we are afraid of what to say.

I wonder how many times we miss the moments, because we are too busy over-thinking and too paralyzed by fear to act.

I wonder how many times we miss the moments, because we are expecting something huge to happen.

God delights in small beginnings. 
God celebrates small victories. 

And while you think that these little things are nothing in the grand scheme of things, these are small beginnings and they, too, are accomplishing His purpose.

I think sometimes our idea of this side of Heaven is lost upon us. Sometimes we feel as though Jesus is telling us to fend for ourselves, to clean up our mess, to fix the broken things in our life and the broken people around us.

But such feelings are just doubting his provision,
and "Grace leaves little room for doubt."

Sometimes there are no good answers and there are no quick fixes, but Jesus is a God who enters into our mess and He says that with Him, it is well.

My word for 2015 is enough and all of these small beginnings and so many other things have shown me that this is already ringing true for my year. With Jesus, it is well. With Jesus, it is enough.

And while I'm sure hard days will come, I'm certain that HE is and always will be enough for me. I'm certain that the small victories and small beginnings in this life deserve to be celebrated and I'm positive that God is celebrating them with me.

Thursday, January 1, 2015

a letter to you, for keeps...

Dear you, 

Your eyes failed to ring in the new year and you faded quickly into deep sleep, but before you faded 2014 gently crept onto the movie reel of your heart and you reveled. You reveled, because 2014 was a year of torrential tears, breathtaking beauty, reckless abandonment and surprises that whisked your heart away. 

A year spent among your NOE abruptly came to a close at the end of May and you thought the goodbyes you had spent years saying were the worst, but you had no idea...Because, love, the more time you had spent at NOE, the more it had become home. The home that you spent years praying for, but you just didn't know that it existed some 2000 miles away. 

And while, it was sometimes hard to get up most days and find joy in hanging clothes, again, God reminded you that there was a need right where you were, that there is always a need right where you are. Even if it may be the last place you think you "should" be. 

Hard times fell upon your heart, because you had to relearn the inner workings of living stateside while loving your babies from afar, you had to be still and you had to relearn that as much as you love fixing, that there are things on this side of Heaven that you can't fix. Those people in your life, you love them; you don't fix them. Those problems that they are living in aren't something you can just take away and stow for safekeeping. But you can be there. You can sit with them. You can say the hard words that would have never ever been mentioned in the past. You can love them without fixing them and dear girl, that's something that you learned and you are still learning. 

But May, yes, it was a month of saying goodbyes, but God used something minor to bring about something beautiful. Most days...things were held inside and went unmentioned or were overlooked by the ones you were loving, but there was a voice among the silence that stood out. And it's been pretty steady since then…crazy to think how God can use the smallest of things to remind you of how loved you are, to remind you that He hears you. And crazy, beautiful to think that the familiar voice hasn't gone silent. It's still very much a part of your life. 

You finished your Masters. You ran a half marathon. 

You remember that day when the table of students you were sitting with started to pray…and then it all ended in a circle of seventeen hands with over eight voices rising up from the silence and praying over each other? That was a moment spent on holy ground, love. A moment that you can be certain came from Him and a moment that was given back to Him. 

…and when you joked about being an "angel" and writing a student who didn't have a sponsor to send him letters. You wrote a letter to him and the look of absolute joy on his face will be something forever engrained in your memory. Something so small made his eyes light up and a face that is often shadowed changed completely before your eyes. 

And then there were those conversations that took place upon your couch, in your own little house. Those moments when God somehow gave you the words to say and the grace to say them. Dear girl, cherish those moments and guard them for the years to come. 

Two Christmases full of joy and heartache was incredibly absent. Two Christmases spent among the ones that know you to your core, spent seeing life rebuilt and victory reclaimed. 

The dear boy kept awake one morning that ended up in church on a random Sunday. Holy ground, yet again.

And sitting on your grandfather's bed and reading him the words you sent him in October…moments spent on holy ground, my love. 

All this to say to you that 2014 was a year when God did something in you, just like years past. All this to say that He let you stand and sit on holy ground and experience love to the absolute fullest. 

All this to say, that 2014 was a year when you realized that the can'ts and shoulds don't really need to guide you, because your Maker is one of whimsy, of reckless abandon, amazing grace and He delights in your joy. 

He delights in your joy. DO you hear that?

You said goodbye, but He brought you back. 

Hold these moments close to your heart, child, and remember that this is just the beginning. The Lord will accomplish His purpose for you, because His word does not return empty.