Tag Archives: holy spirit

summer updates

To those of you who are praying for me, planning on supporting me, or are just generally nosy, this is for you. I’m here to give you more than just the “my trip was great; it gave me lots of pieces of things to process” answer about what the Lord is doing and how the summer has been. Thank you for your patience in giving me space to do the emotional work of sifting, journaling, and verbalizing all that I needed to before being able to produce an update like this. Also, thank you for letting me do it over writing, because we all know I articulate myself better that way.

I appreciate your patience. I’m grateful for your prayers. And I literally couldn’t do this without your support. I’m going to try and move through this as systematically as possible.

First: I graduated college and moved back home.

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At the beginning of May, I officially checked “get a Bachelors” off my bucket list. While it was somewhat of an overwhelming time, finishing up undergraduate and graduate finals (I started an accelerated masters program in the Fall), saying goodbyes, and packing up a house where ten girls had accumulated stuff, it was also a sweet time of reflection on all the things the Lord did over the past four years. I’m so so grateful for the preparation, the growth, and the friendships that have come out of my time living at Wheaton. I can honestly say that I’m not the same person I was four years ago, for so much the better. It’s been neat (and sometimes strange) to watch my friendships transition into long-distance and to watch my friends move into new stages of life. But honestly, I’ve been ready for this movement for awhile. I started moving in a life outside of Wheaton when I began teaching with World Relief, working for the church, and meeting with sending agencies back in the Fall of 2016. My senior year was a wonderful time of sealing up that season of my life.

Despite the fact that I said I never wanted to move back home, it has been more of a seamless transition than I could have anticipated. It’s been a nice change to come home to open and empty spaces, something that rarely happened in a house full of ten girls. I’ll be living here for the next year while I finish up my masters, saving money on rent, and commuting 45-minutes to school. Part of me sees it as a time to honor my parents and all the sacrifices they’ve made over the past twenty-two years; a time to invest into my familial relationships, especially if I do end up moving overseas. One of my best friends from school will also be living here with me, so I’m pumped about that as well.

Second: we went on a family vacation.

For all the reasons this trip intended to be memorable, it was. The three siblings were reunited for two weeks, and more than that, I got to share a room with my sister and catch up on life. We got to hang out with our cousins and celebrate our grandparents. It was a meaningful time of being together. We’re fifteen years out from the first trip my grandparents took us all on and it was sweet to bring a level of closure to the season of being young, unattached, wide-eyed kids.

This trip was also significant in ways that weren’t the initial intent. This trip, though structured for leisure, was something of a mini-vision trip for me. My “spiritual senses” were heightened, as I moved through places prayerfully, aware of the work of God in them. Before going, I skyped with people working and serving in most of the cities we visited, so my radar was up in terms of where God could be leading me.

In all the years that I’ve prayed about going overseas, Europe never really jumped out on the map. After all, I’ve been willing to go just about anywhere and Europe isn’t the first place people talk about there being need. My heart has been predominately for Middle Eastern people groups. Yet, as I’ve prayed, listened, and processed the past few weeks, there’s definitely something going on when it comes to Europe. I’m not jumping to any conclusions here, but stay tuned.

Third: I “vision tripped” in Turkey.

After some retrospective reflection, these were the four goals my sending coach and I came up with for the trip:

  1. Draw me closer to the Lord and give me an increasing sense of what He’s doing.
  2. Help clarify the kind of work that I want to do/where I feel led to do it/the people groups I feel drawn to do it with.
  3. Answer questions specifically about work in Turkey and more generally about work overseas.
  4. Give me the opportunity to pray for the workers, the ministries, and the people in the city.

This trip far exceeded every one of those expectations. I could not have planned more holistic answers to every one of those questions and prayers if I had tried. It was amazing.

AF9B8BD0-D3C6-41F5-997B-D6F0FF4F409DHowever, if you heard some of my initial talk about the trip and it didn’t seem to match a sense of “fulfilling expectations,” that’s because I came back a little unsure that it had. I was viscerally aware of the “vision trip” nature of the trip, and subconsciously assumed that meant I needed to come back sure of whether or not Turkey would be right long-term. I was hoping it would be the more encouraging of the two options; how fun is it to talk about a vision trip that clarified where you’re not supposed to be?

I’m not saying that I’m never going back to Turkey or that it’ll never be “right.” I’m also not making plans right now to move over there in a year. I’m still discerning, still putting pieces together. And that’s where this vision comes up strong – it has given me more pieces, more deposits of the Lord than I even realized I needed. There is a practical side to “discerning the will of the Lord,” as well as a spiritual one. It’s been amazing to watch the Lord walk me through both.

Also, the trip was just generally really amazing. I’m summarizing a week of watching the Lord do really incredible things into a paragraph on discernment.

Fourth: I’m starting my year as a full-time M.A. student

As we head into August, I’ll be finishing up the program I started as an undergrad, graduating in May with my M.A. in TESOL/Intercultural Studies. During the year I’ll be continuing tutoring and teaching refugees through World Relief and working as the youth director for middle school/highschool ministries at my church. I’m also looking into another part-time teaching opportunity, working with kids from Chicago’s inner city.

The focus of the year, besides studying hard and finishing up the degree that makes me crazy excited, is preparation. The Lord is clearly moving and opening doors, I’m doing my best to be faithful in walking through them. I’ll spend the year, particularly the next few weeks/months, continuing to talk with agencies, skyping with more cross-cultural workers, filling out applications, and praying hard into all that God’s doing. It’s the year where the rubber will meet the road on things that I’ve been praying into for a decade.

I’m not here to presume on how it’s all going to look in six months, a year, or four years. If there’s one mantra that I’m comfortable living by it’s: “His glory is His prerogative.” I’m just here to love and serve the Lord, however He sees fit to best work that out is up to Him.

And I’d love for you to join me.

If you’re partnering with me in prayer, here’s a few points to guide you (but, as always, feel free to pray into whatever the Spirit leads):

  1. Processed with VSCO with t1 presetPray for my time with the Lord. It’s been incredibly sweet and deep to just be with Him and hear all the things He’s speaking. Pray that I would continue to prioritize my time with Him and that my ears, eyes, and heart are opened to all He’s saying and doing.
  2. Pray for my awareness of the Holy Spirit. Something the Lord has been highlighting is my need to cultivate an even deeper awareness of the Holy Spirit and dependance on His power. Pray that I would be increasingly filled with the Holy Spirit and would live my life from that place!
  3. Pray for my leadership of my youth kids. I love these students so much! There are six students moving up, which is a lot for a small group with one leader! Pray that I would be sensitive to their needs and that they would grow to love one another and the Lord in deeper ways!
  4. Pray for continued discernment and provision, in regards to the future. There are so many things that need to fall into places, things I can’t control, for me to ever end up overseas. Pray for God’s will to be done, for my faith to be stirred, and for His glory to be magnified!

The Power of Prayer

I hate to admit it, but I sometimes go through waves when it comes to prayer. I wish I could say I am 100% prayer warrior all the time, but if I’m honest, I have to say I go through seasons. Sometimes I believe prayer has the power to change the world and the idea of praying unceasingly comes naturally. Then there are other seasons where, though not from a lack of love for the Lord, praying just doesn’t feel all that important. Prayer is always powerful, but sometimes it is easier to let that truth grip my heart and sometimes I have to fight for it.

The past few months have been the latter kind of season. It’s not that I haven’t wanted to pray, it’s just that prayer lost some of its priority in my heart. As I wrestled through different life circumstances, I began to question the true impact or power of prayer.

And then some seemingly small events in the past two weeks reminded me of the significance of prayer. The truth that the Lord hears and delights in responded to our petitions. The fact that He loves to have our hearts aligned with His.

With these recent musing on prayer, I found a post that I wrote my senior year of high school, a time when I believed and saw the tangible reality of prayer. My hope is that by dusting off some of these old truths, they will breathe new life into your hearts. It has for me.

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April 2013

“I have felt the impact of your prayers these past weeks. I am certain now that nothing has had a more powerful influence on this life of mine than your prayers.” Jim Elliot

“Prayer is the mighty engine that is to move the missionary work.” A.B. Simpson

“Pray for great things, expect great things, work for great things, but above all pray.” R.A. Torrey

“It is possible for the most obscure person in a church, with a heart right toward God, to exercise as much power for the evangelization of the world, as it is for those who stand in the most prominent positions.” John R. Mott

“The history of missions is the history of answered prayer.” Samuel Zwemer

“We can reach our world, if we will. The greatest lack today is not people or funds. The greatest need is prayer.” Wesley Duewel

“I believe it will only be known on the Last Day how much has been accomplished in missionary work by the prayers of earnest believers at home…I do earnestly covet a volume of prayer for my work — but oh! for a volume of faith too. Will you give this?” James Fraser

I’ll be the first to admit my discipline in prayer is extremely lacking. But praise to be to God who is stirring up my heart, burdening me for His people and places. Will you allow Him to move your heart for the work He is doing around the world?

I love the image that we get to approach the Throne of Grace on the behalf of others. Let the intercession of God’s people pile up before His throne, just as Revelation 8:4 says,

“The smoke of the incense, together with the prayers of God’s people, went up before God from the angel’s hand.”

It amazes me that we are loved by the Creator of the universe, who delights in our asking and seeking. In Scripture, prayer moves the heart of God, but more than that, it changes the heart of the believer. We pray to stand in agreement with God and with His people. That has the power to change everything inside of us.

Casting Nets on an Ordinary Day

Walking along the beach of Lake Galilee, Jesus saw two brothers: Simon (later called Peter) and Andrew. They were fishing, throwing their nets into the lake. It was their regular work. Jesus said to them, “Come with me. I’ll make a new kind of fisherman out of you. I’ll show you how to catch men and women instead of perch and bass.” They didn’t ask questions, but simply dropped their nets and followed.” Matthew 4:18-20, MSG

How many times did they cast their nets into that sea? How many days of fishing had weathered their skin? How many conversations, laughs, frustrations had that boat seen?

But something made that day different.

That was the day Jesus stepped into the ordinary.

I’m continually reminded that I don’t know the plans of the Lord. We don’t know His days or His hours. We live these “ordinary” days, casting our nets and pulling up fish (or walking to class and swiping into the dining hall), and yet the Lord is moving all the while.

How many moments had they lived, had led up to the moment of Christ’s call? Moments that seemed monotonous, routine, insignificant. Moments spent waiting, wondering if there was more. Moments of laughter and frustration and tears that brought them to that specific boat, on that specific place in the water, at that specific point in time, where their hearts were in the perfect posture to drop everything for Jesus.

We get into these traps of waiting for that moment. And while the Lord may be preparing us for something in the future, we don’t know that. What He does tell us is that He’s stepping into every moment. His Spirit is always moving around us. Every moment is part of His divine plan, leading us to the specific places that we can’t see or even imagine.

I doubt the men, who would later become the apostles and foundation of Christ’s church, were feeling anything akin to calling or obedience that day on the water. They probably didn’t even realize that by untying their boat that day they were operating squarely in the perfect will of the Lord. But that is the precise place Jesus wanted them.

And when He called into the moment they didn’t realize was even happening, they responded with immediate obedience. And then, the Spirit moves on. The moment passes and other comes. And whether or not you feel like you have just been called out of the boat into new, exciting ministry with Jesus, or you are just throwing over another net, rest in the fact that you are where the Lord wants you. He has things for you right now, right where you are. He’s moving, right where you are sitting, reading this. Are the eyes of your heart being attentive to it? Is there a “yes” in your heart to what He’s doing – whether it’s calling you out of the boat or to throw the nets in again?

Ordinary days. But we get to live them under the banner of God’s love, Jesus’ redemption, and the Holy Spirit’s empowering. We aren’t just fishing, y’all.

Your eyes saw my unformed body; all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.” Psalm 139:16, NIV

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The Blogging Hiatus.

Do you even know what a hiatus is?

I didn’t. Or at least, I didn’t when I wrote the title.

It means a pause or gap in a sequence, series, or process. Synonyms include the words interval, intermission, interlude, lull, respite, suspension. I always have this idea when I get back from big events that I will have a renewed vigor to post on my blog because I will have a new set of experiences to dish out. Getting back from Asia and then more recently from the End of the Year Gathering in PA should have resulted in newfound inspiration, not a hiatus.

I think I like the word “hiatus” best out of all the synonyms. Everything else seems to imply that the break was conscious, unwarranted, or undesirable. I unconsciously made the personal decision to ignore blogging for two months because everything has been great. Have I mentioned the Lord is so very good and so very jealous for both me and His glory?

It’s not that I don’t want to write about Asia – I can’t. Part of me can’t because practically what I’m allowed to say on the internet is limited because of the potential hostility that could come to the people we worked alongside. But an even bigger part of me can’t because I don’t know what to say. First, so much of what happened is personal. Some of it couldn’t be explained unless you’d been exactly where we were, doing exactly what we were doing. And some of it I don’t want to explain because it is precious to me, moments between me and the Lord or me and someone else that I cherish to much to just repeat for the world to lend a careless eye to. Second, so much actually happened. Two weeks and one camp later I have more than one evening’s worth of stories circling through my head. I don’t know where I’d even begin.

So I came back with a fresh overflowing of the Holy Spirit. For the first time in a long time, joy and peace saturated my heart and spilled over into every area of my life. God has been healthy convicting, molding, and teaching me. He cuts away at my flesh but it feels so good and free. How can you express what God is doing and has done in your heart in jumbled letters on a page?

And as I began to wade the new waters of sufficient grace and love, I finished finals and packed up the car for the gathering in PA. Thinking back to the insecurity, fear, and disappointment that hindered my heart during the last EOTYG, I began to let the work God had solidified overseas, but began long before that, penetrate my timid heart. Confidence and identity. I got to hug all my friends. I laughed at their jokes and we told stories. We danced and I listened to their singing. Finally, smiling and misty-eyed, I was handed a high-school diploma. I couldn’t say which was better, India or Lancaster because they were so different. But they were both two of the best and most memorable times in my life. I’m smiling as I type this, to give you an indication…

How do you write a blog post to sum up the culmination of a lifetime of emotions, when you know the culmination is just the beginning of a lifetime’s more?

How can you conclude the last chapter of your life when it is still being written and spilling over into the next?

I don’t think I can.

Which is why I’ve sat in front of a blog post more than once since being back, thoughtlessly tapping on the keys. Words won’t come. How can they? I can’t sum up or explain what God has done in me while I was away. I can’t write out all that the Lord has been doing in me and through me these past few weeks. I can’t put a value to my feelings. I can’t put to words the change in both my heart and my life.

But I feel like I can’t go ahead and post the movie reviews, my bucket list, photos, and stories without attempting some closure. For Asia. For graduation. For the gathering. For a new post on my blog.

I don’t know what the next few months or years have in store for me. I don’t pretend to know the plans of the Lord. I don’t know how much I’ll be able to put into words, what stories I’ll end up telling, or how many photos I’ll remember to capture. But I do know the Lord loves me passionately, His grace is utterly sufficient for me, His Holy Spirit is in me, and He is good. And contrary to what the past two months would have you believe, I do love this blog.

I have one life and looking back (see the video below), it has been more abundantly blessed and full than I’ve ever realized before. I’ve been to Europe and Asia. I’ve met and built relationships with some of the most incredible, influential people, and best friends. I’ve learned more than I could’ve ever anticipated about the Lord. I’ve learned more than I ever thought I could in school and I grew to love learning. Looking back fills me with sentiment, yes. But it also fills me with immense hope. The faithful God who had His hand on the baby Maddie who wanted to shave like her dad, dance in the rain, and eat all the birthday cake is the same trustworthy God who will go on with me to return my Redbox movie today (btw, I sort of loved Tom Cruise as Jack Reacher), travel with me to Wheaton, and guide me for the rest of my life. I just hope I remember to blog some of it.