Thursday, November 27, 2014

A Prayer of Thanks

I sat here a few nights ago, thinking about what I am thankful for as we come upon another Thanksgiving. I have to admit, this is one of my least favourite holidays...but it's one worth celebrating. Not because it is the last remaining holiday that keeps us from going into full-blown Christmas mode. Also not because of the food, the football, or the shopping afterwards. 

But because it is a day that should be celebrated as it's spelled out in the day's name itself: giving thanks.

I have so much to give thanks for. The greatest of these things is God's love and sacrifice that I might live my life fully in His hands. Giving thanks should always start with His sacrifice. From there, the list just begins to fill itself out...

So I wrote down a small prayer of thanks that I want to share with you.

As we gather once again, on a day that we have set aside to give thanks, I want to thank You...
For the sound of laughter, the chatter around the table, the unnecessary words and the words unspoken, thank You. Without the times of tears, we wouldn’t know how to laugh together. Without the words, we wouldn’t know when to be silent. and without regret, we wouldn’t know when to speak up next time. 
For every hug, eye roll, sarcastic joke, smiling face, and story told, thank You. It reminds me that around us there is joy and grief to be had, surrounded by those who keep us on our toes. There are people I share this day with who will continue to challenge me into a new person, tell me truth, and not be afraid to share the good and the bad as it comes. 
For the smells coming from the kitchen, the burnt bread, the leftovers we will have tomorrow and those who brought the feast to the table, thank You. It leaves me knowing I will have a full stomach and a full heart. It reminds me that we aren't the only ones celebrating today and that tomorrow as we gather at a different table, You will provide for us again. 
For the memories I've already made and the ones being made today. For the memories we wish we didn't have and the ones we never will, thank You. It is no mistake that each person is here today and it wasn't a mistake where we were ten years ago. Tomorrow is in Your hands and for that we are thankful. We trust that the memories You keep us from making and the ones we have yet to make are all crafted by Your hand.
Thank you, Lord. For your love. For your sacrifice. For all that you have done for me and for those I love. Thank you. 

Monday, October 27, 2014

I am here.

I am here. 

Sitting in an oversized chair, facing the window. 
The fog rolls along the horizon, narrowly kissing the ocean as the warm rays of the sun fights to overtake it.
The sea breeze billows through the open window as the salty air assails my senses. 

I am where home once was. 

I am sitting among friends - fellowshipping among family.
Those I will see are those who know me, whom I have known for many years. 
They have seen me grow up - from childhood to adulthood, from a baby in Christ to a missionary. 

This is familiar. 

I am home once again, navigating a new familiar, an old unknown. 
Faces I love and longed to see from a distance are now a part of my every day. 
And the sun still rises and I watch it lower itself daily, adding to a passage of time that I want to slow down and gain speed simultaneously. 

This is my now.

Until January, when everything becomes the new normal. 
When I return to where I left my heart and my new family, and once again restore new. 
To my new normal, with confident refreshment. When I will look at the sun fighting behind the clouds, the wind and the rain cascading down the hills and can finally say, 

I am here. 

Thursday, September 11, 2014

A Ministry Update

Hello from Morro Bay, CA! 

I'm sitting here overlooking the Pacific Ocean, back on the central coast, and excited for this coming {albeit short} season. I arrived back on August 26th and have been enjoying spending time with my family in Orange County and Bakersfield...but now I am here in Morro Bay and looking forward to all that the Lord has for me during my time here! =)

So, here's some questions regarding my furlough I thought you all might like answered.

How long are you here? 
I plan on flying back to Scotland around January 15 (along with a two year missionary visa!!). My furlough is a bit longer than a regular furlough due to a few reasons. Mainly, obtaining a new visa, renewing my passport (that is about to expire), fundraising, and spending the holidays with my family. 

What will you be doing while you're in the states? 
I will be spending most of my time serving at Shoreline Calvary Chapel (my sending church), fundraising, and sharing/speaking engagements (either sharing about my ministry, what the Lord has been teaching me, or my testimony). In addition to that, i will be focusing on getting everything squared away for my new visa, and getting to spend the holidays with my family before I fly back to Scotland in January. 

Where will you be? 
I will be mostly staying in Morro Bay, CA but plan on travelling for various reasons while I'm here. If you're in CA, and especially on the central coast, I would love to see you! 

How can we help? 
There are a few ways to help: firstly, prayer! Please pray that my time here would be fruitful and used by the Lord. Whether you're getting this update and are in another country yourself, or are busy and want to cheer me on from a distance, prayer is the best way to do that! 

Secondly, I would love to get a few speaking/sharing nights on the calendar (especially for those of you who live outside of the central coast). If you are involved in a church that would like to hear a missionary update, in a bible study that might want a guest speaker, or a ministry that could find encouragement in hearing the Lord's story in my life, please let me know! I would love to set up a date/time with you/your church! 

Lastly, if you're here on the central coast and would like to be involved in a few fundraisers on the horizon, please let me know. I've got some fun Christmas-themed fundraiser ideas that will hopefully be in the works soon. =) 

When can we see you? 
I know that right now, 4 months seems like ages and that I will have plenty of time to see everyone before I head back...but then Im going to blink and be like "what happened to the last four months?!" So, I am currently in the planning stages of an update time at Shoreline and a few sharing nights in the next few months. I will send out an email when I have those dates and hope to see many of you during those times! 

Again, if you have any more questions about anything please feel free to email me! Thank you so much for continuing to join me on this journey and praying for me. =) 

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Wind & Waves

A few weeks ago, a section of verses kept coming up through various avenues: reference verses at church, in personal devotions, in conversations with friends. After about round 4 of this, I decided the coincidence wasn't to be taken lightly and I would memorise them.

I am terrible at memorising anything that isn't a song--not because I can't, but because of the disciplined action I am required to do. I can memorise a song without a second though, no problem, but straight line memorisation has always been a bit of a struggle for me. 

So, I wrote the verses down, and started repeating them back to at a time. Finally, I got to this verse:

I stopped memorising. I couldn't continue because I felt like I didn't quite understand it. Why would the Lord choose to command and raise the wind which, in turn, lifted up the waves of the sea? I asked God why He didn't just command the waves to be lifted; why didn't He just leave the wind out of it?

I was reminded that His ways are higher and greater than mine and that He chose to use the wind to affect the waves. He could have done it differently, but He didn't.

A man's heart plans his way, But the LORD directs his steps.
Proverbs 16:9 NKJV

I finished that day having memorised one small verse, but having been filled with His peace. I walked away knowing that He was in charge of both the wind and the waves and if He would choose to affect the waves by the wind, who am I to argue?

Then, he caused some wind to rise, the waves were lifted...and, as a sheep gone astray, I forgot all that He taught me.

I had been growing increasingly exciting about a specific ministry opportunity and, seemingly out of nowhere, plans fell through and I was no longer needed to serve there. The wind came up and completely tossed me about like a wave at sea. It wasn't me that changed. It wasn't my plans that were moved, it was something else that happened, but inadvertently affected me...and I didn't like it.

 I thought one way, God thought differently. I thought I knew what was best, God knew better. And not two days after memorising and meditating on Psalm 107:25, I was experiencing it first hand.

It took me a bit of time to be reminded of that peace I had when I first understood this scripture. It took repentance from my frustration and hurt. It took relinquishing my own plans. It took His merciful and gentle voice to calm me and give me a refreshed trust in His direction.

In the end, with the reminder of His Word, I was able to dwell on the times I have been affected like the waves...and the times the Lord has used me as the wind. I felt a peace knowing that regardless of His plans, it was for a greater purpose and I am blessed to be used for and by Him in whatever capacity He chose.

And it has renewed my joy in meditating on scripture and raised my trust in His "cause and affect"actions in my life. 

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

So Shine.

It's revealing.
Dispels darkness.
Brightens dullness.

We don't turn a light on to stare at the light.
We need it to see the objects and subjects around us.

We don't turn a light on to close our eyes.
We need it to brighten the shady parts and reveal truth.

And we don't shine Light into the world so that people can look at us in awe.
We shine Light so they can glorify our Father in heaven.

We are called to be His light.
To reveal the darkness in the world around us.
To shine bright into the dull shadows.

Thursday, June 5, 2014

A Pattern Worth Nurturing: A Small Musing

In case anyone didn't know...I am a character of structure and pattern. I enjoy having a schedule, knowing what my day is going to look like, and planning out my weeks.

What I have found, however, is that over the time I have been here in Alness, I have joyfully developed a pattern of being unstructured--something that is very stretching (and healthy!) for me.

I struggled with it at first. Not having a schedule, to me, meant "free time" and too often in the first month I was here, that translated into time wasted.

But I quickly discovered the beauty of this available time. I wasn't given the blessing of "free" time to do whatever I wanted, I was given it to be able to hear the Lord stronger, and hear myself less.
I was given it to be able to spend more time with Him, and less time with an appointment book
I was given it to be available for His plan, and not try to consume my day with my own plan.

Like I said, it was stretching. It went against so much of who I am. But, I am so thankful that He found me worthy to be grown in this way! I have been able to be more available for ministries that come up naturally and suddenly, have been able to experience more "organic" relationships and ministry.

Most importantly, I have recognised that the only pattern that is of the utmost importance is nurturing my relationship with the Lord by studying His word and spending time with Him daily. 

Do you find yourself consumed with a pattern or schedule? Is it putting your relationship with Christ, and your availability to be used by Him, second to making sure "everything is in order"? If you're like me and can relate to this, what verses do you use as a reminder to place Christ first?

Thursday, May 29, 2014

New Mercies

I wrote this poem from an overflowed prayer. I was trying to put words to why I felt ill-equipped to be a missionary. Why I felt ill-equipped to be praying for revival here in Scotland, knowing that the impression to pray for it is so strongly felt in my heart that I can't expect to pray and not be moved to action by it. I confess that I've struggled to get on my knees to pray for the Spirit to move as He has in bygone years because I am scared of what He may call me to do. How selfish can I be?

This poem is an attempt to come to terms with the fact that it has nothing to do with how I feel, or what I am comfortable with. My flesh with always battle with the Spirit and my thoughts will always battle with my prayers. What matters is Jesus. What He has done for us, what He is doing in us, what He chooses to do through us. Our imperfection is at its greatest when we think that we cannot be used by the One who not only created us, but made us in His image. Our lives are the most useless when we convince ourselves of this lie. 

I don't have a conclusion...I'm not even sure this poem is finished yet. But I do know that I will always feel ill-equipped yet, in His infinite wisdom, He still chooses to use me. He still chooses to rejoice over me with singing, call me His beloved, send me out to share His Gospel, be His child...I am so unworthy to be loved by a God so amazing! 

New Mercies

You are my first love; You rejoice over me and call me
To You as you awaken me and remind me that
The portrait of who I am is made in
Your image.

You ask me to love you with all of my heart, 
You call me to serve and honor you
Completely, with a joyful and reckless

Yet, when the morning dawns, and mercies are new
Like the sun pouring over the horizon
Its dance across the sky mingles with
My flesh.

As the dance continues, I see myself fall into step
With old habits and thoughts that do not uplift
But tear down and leave a path of shadowed

And when the sun’s dance sets, I am left in wonder that 
You would daily love this imperfect mess, 
the one who so willingly turns from You to
The world.

I am comforted by Your words, written on my heart as a 
Brazen promise of restoration. I am encouraged
by Your peace that strengthens me to remember 
Your mercies.

You have given me the only True Salvation that takes me 
From death and darkness to life and Light. Your body
was broken that I might awaken to Your love and 
Your grace.

And in those times I look at sunset and not sunrise, reminded
That I have come from so dark a place, it is Your Son
that shines brightly as the morning dawn and 
Awakens me. 

Your gentle calling never fails to turn my ears 
To your voice. I am captivated by the whisper
Of avid concern: a command as personal as
A love letter.

Because You are my first love; You rejoice over me and call me
To You as you awaken me and remind me that
The portrait of who I am is made in
Your image.

I cry to you and ask to let these words, this song, this psalm 
May my heart be words poured out as a prayer 
As worship and praise, adoration and
Overwhelming love.
My plea.
My hope.
My heartbeat.

My change.