Tag Archives: moving

overseas.

I let the papers slide from my hand into the recycling bin and climbed onto my bed. Across the room I could still see the corner of the support letter papers I’d printed out, mocking me from the trash can. Pictures from previous trips lined the bottom of blank pages where I’d planned on writing heartfelt pleas for summer funding. If you didn’t want me overseas this summer, Lord, why not start with that? Why lead me to meeting after meeting, sorting through a dozen different opportunities and organizations, to find one that I was sure I sensed You moving in, only to have it all fall through?

I’ll spare you the details of my angered, and often one-sided, spats with the Lord and suffice it to say that those pleas of winter break 2015 led into what would become the transformative summer of 2016 – all without leaving Wheaton, Illinois.

You make me laugh, Jesus.

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A year ago, I couldn’t force my way overseas; I know because I tried. It was like trying to fit a square peg into a round hole – nothing fit, felt right, or worked out in the end. In typical, omniscient God fashion, He knew better. Little did I know that I needed both the refinement and redemption that would come from a summer working at World Relief in Wheaton. So, with initial begrudging, I let the Lord do what He wanted to do. I should’ve expected this, but as it turned out, the last year has been so clearly the Lord; way better than any plan I had tried to concoct for myself.

I could take you through the successive, crazy, it-has-to-be-the-Lord-because-otherwise-it-doesn’t-make-sense chain of events that has followed since the summer (but let’s be real, He’s been moving in those kinds of themes for a lot longer than the winter of 2015). I struggle to find a starting place and would you even believe me if I tried? Maybe later I’ll start writing down some of those individual stories. They aren’t necessarily grand or exciting, just lots of little moments and random connections that the Lord likes to break through in.

I’m looking at my calendar and three trips overseas sit in front of me – trips that I didn’t plan or go looking for. Trips that scream the name of Jesus and the continual call to simply trust what He’s doing. A trip to Europe with friends, better friends than my lonely and scared freshman year self could’ve dreamt up, exploring the countries where a missions organization that I’m considering works. A trip to the British Isles with family, an unexpected blessing that has opened the door to potentially meet missionaries working with refugees in a context that I’ve been praying about for awhile. And a vision trip, to a country in the Middle East, where I’ll get to experience what the Lord is doing in refugee camps up close, and tangibly discern further what He’s leading me into long term.

I say all of this for two reasons:

  1. because I would love your prayer as I go on these trips and take the next eight months to really press in, pray, and discern not only what the Lord is doing in the moment, but what He may be leading me into long term. It’s all the normal prayers for direction that anyone with an impending graduation date (although mine is a little extended because of a master’s program) needs, with a little extra tacked on because if He’s asking me to raise support and move halfway around the world, that can feel just a little daunting. (If you want a prayer card to tuck in your bible or stick on your fridge, let me know!)
  2. because every story, be it stories of the details or the overarching narrative of the past year, points directly back to the trustworthiness and faithfulness of Christ! I don’t know where you are at in terms of believing the Lord or what you need Him to do; I don’t know what He’s doing in your life or what situations of dependance He’s put you in (or perhaps you are running from). But I know this – He is more gracious, powerful, and wise than we often give Him credit for.

What’s He Up to?

“When an answer I did not expect comes to a prayer which I believed I truly meant, I shrink back from it; if the burden my Lord asks me to bear be not the burden of my heart’s choice, and I fret inwardly and do not welcome His will, then I know nothing of Calvary love.” Amy Carmichael

I’ve started 4 different drafts with ideas about what the Lord has been doing in my heart lately. Funny stories from the past few weeks at Wheaton. Pieces from my journals, quotes that I’ve found. Usually when I sit down with my journals and Bible notes from the past few weeks, a blog post flows naturally from the recorded thoughts. They click together; writing it here gives it clarity in my heart. But seriously, none of it is coming together in a blog post. I’ve started and given it a few days to process, and even coming back to it, nothing seems to fit. I don’t know what I want to say because at the root of it, I really don’t know what the Lord is doing.

So that’s what I’m going to write about. That’s what this first semester has been. Pieces, fragments, lessons, moments that don’t always seem to fit together. It’s like my heart and emotions and desires are doing summersaults – and as much as I’ve fought for consistency in them, it hasn’t come. I wake up thinking one thing, and I go to bed excited about another. I go from content to confused, frustrated to satisfied, excited to anxious, and back again.

Don’t get me wrong – it’s been a wonderful semester. But it’s been wonderful within the tension. . .I have been both incredibly challenged and blessed by the nearness of the Lord. I’ve never been more grateful for my family, friends, and Wheaton, while simultaneously being grown in ways I didn’t really choose. I’ve never been more excited and content, but also confused and unsettled about my future.

I just don’t know what He’s up to.

Here’s what I’ve got: seldom do we know the will of the Lord. Sometimes it bothers us and we find ourselves wide eyed and demanding answers, sometimes it doesn’t and we ride the waves of trust. Sometimes the Lord graciously increases our faith and decisions, like coming to Wheaton, ones that just don’t make sense, are filled with incredible peace. And sometimes, it just doesn’t happen that way. Sometimes He asks us to cling to Him in the silence and unrest.

I’ve found myself forced to cling to the daily bread of Jesus, because yesterdays is literally not enough. Because day to day, I really don’t know what He is doing. And it’s not like I ever really know, but lately I’ve been very aware of just how much I don’t know. It brings me to a place of living in the present, and I’m not always entirely comfortable with that. My pride likes to think I could handle knowing His plans for my future. . .but when it comes down to it, I’m not always at a place where I want to hear what the Lord has to say about something. Sometimes it’s because it is too hard or too much and sometimes because it would distract me from what He is doing today. It’s like Amy Carmichael said: He’s molding my heart to look more like His and I’m not always the biggest fan of the process, even though I can’t imagine anything greater.

We only ever see the “tip of the iceberg” (gotta put my new knowledge of Geology somewhere) of what Jesus is doing. So why am I often so obsessed with figuring the rest of it out?

I know that Jesus is sovereign; I trust that. Or at least, I want to. But how does that look practically when He’s being silent on the questions I am bringing to Him? And beyond trusting Jesus with my heart, why is it so hard to trust Him with my family and friend’s? I have to trust that others are walking in step with the Lord – that they are noticing, learning, and responding to His guidance. I have to trust that Jesus is bigger than the surface that I see.

The Love that conquered sin and death on Calvary is infinitely bigger than my circumstances and my wandering heart. The massive, metaphorical “tip of the iceberg” that I’m seeing is unfathomably bigger, and just because I can’t see it now, doesn’t mean it’s not there. It’s seen by the very Creator of real icebergs. And yet, our God chooses to know our hearts intimately. Jesus became man and chose finite understanding. He’s gets it, and He still did it perfectly.

Today, I rest in the fact that not only is He worthy of my trust because He is sovereign and loving and omniscient and good, but because He knows what it’s like to not always know what the Father is up to. He let’s me come wide eyed and searching for answers, drawing me into greater dependance and love when He knows it’s not time for them yet.

I have to choose daily bread. I have to choose trust. In choosing those things, I choose Jesus. And that’s the only thing I really know for sure.

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The Gift of Hope

I’ve written here about hope before. It’s been kind of a theme this past year and a half. But when I started realizing the necessity of hope in ministry and just life in general, little did I know of how big the Lord’s vision for it could be. This isn’t just about my hope in the Lord. This isn’t just about my family’s trust in the Lord’s provision. This is about the eternal Hope for the nations!

I’m sick of Dad’s job. I’m sick of Dad’s complaints about it. I am sick of Dad’s workload. Jesus, You have to have a better job for him. You have to have a job that glorifies You.” September 5, 2010

Little did I know how He’d answer that prayer I desperately journaled a little over 4 years ago.

I can’t pinpoint where this work of the Lord in my family began because I don’t know that it even had a “start.” I do know that something shifted in my heart when He made it clear that He wanted me at Wheaton.

Wheaton never made sense. It’s far. It’s cold. I didn’t know anyone who was here or had ever been here, outside of Billy Graham and the guys from End of the Spear. But most of all, it never made (and still really doesn’t) sense financially. The Lord’s direction in telling me to go to Wheaton was so clear that I sent in the deposit before we got financial aid information back. I knew He would provide.

So when our need-based aid came back a little dry, I inquired of the Lord. Why would you tell me to go to Wheaton and then not provide? Loans don’t make sense if you want me on the mission field, Lord. You get that right? I love how He lets us come to Him with such honesty. And I love His answers even more.

Faith, hope, and love are eternal. My degree from Wheaton isn’t. My finances aren’t. The Lord is using Wheaton to cultivate things in me that are going to last long beyond my Wheaton education. He is giving me a gift in teaching me how to trust Him as my provider. I prayed for stories of His power. . .I guess I just forgot that meant being put in a place of desperation for Him. The ways the Lord has grown my faith in His faithfulness and hope in His provision at and through Wheaton has been more of a blessing than I could’ve ever imagined. From finances to my freshman year roommate, Jesus has clearly had His hand in growing me and drawing me closer to His heart every step of the way.

Little did I know that He was doing this same work in my family.

I’ll never forget wandering up and down the sidewalk in front of Fischer lawn, soaking up the still warm air last October, listening to my parents on the other end of the phone. They tried to explain to me how my dad had lost his job, through a series of crazy events that I still don’t understand. It was too crazy not to be the Lord. It’s what I’d been praying for years – that Jesus would lead my dad out of his corporate workplace into the Kingdom work that I knew the Lord had gifted him for. I just didn’t anticipate it feeling the way it did that day. And the months afterward.

Hearing it all second hand, I wrestled through the idea that my family was secure in the Lord but also without an income. I knew my parents were both being brought to new spiritual depths but I could also hear them struggling with some of the practical aspects of losing a job, seeking the will of the Lord, and reaching out to others. And I was 11 hours away. At a school that was just sucking away more money than I cared to think about.

I don’t know that I realized until a few months later (probably around when I did the blog post on the necessity of hope) how vital hope was, for me and my family. I never doubted that the Lord would uphold us. That He was leading us. Though I may have let worry slip in on occasion, I never gave into the doubts that my family was truly alright. That Wheaton will somehow get paid for. That all the closed doors with jobs was really the hand of the Lord. The gift of hope sustained us.

And then, so did Hope Products. Though at first it was just the dream of Hope Products.

The whole thing is crazy. My mom’s unused degree in international marketing, my parent’s prayers to do sustainable ministry together, the connections through our church and other crazy outlets. I think Hope Products is one of those dreams that Lord put into my parents hearts a long time ago that they never even realized was there. It wasn’t what they expected or pictured, but then again, no one anticipated that I’d be at a college in Illinois and my dad would lose a job that he’s had since as long as I can remember. I love it when Jesus just does His thing and blows our minds.

And Hope Products is continually surpassing our wildest expectations.

Seriously, I can’t even get into all the too-crazy-to-be-coincidence things that have happened in the past year. Connections, relationships, provision, answered prayers. It’s been amazing. Hard. Challenging. Testing. Stretching. At times, downright uncomfortable, especially for my parents. But so filled with Jesus.

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So, it’s with incredible gratitude and excitement that I introduce you to Hope Products International.

Go peruse the site to see the products and read what it’s all about (if you want to see some of the fruits of my labor from the summer, you can watch the vision video here). In short, it’s just the really exciting beginning of what the Lord is doing in a lot of people’s lives. He’s connecting people to each other and to the nations through this new business called Hope Products. We would love for you to join us on this crazy adventure in following Jesus. We don’t know where He’s going, we certainly didn’t expect Hope Products to be a stop along the way; yet, it is and now I can’t imagine the past few years looking any different.

Also, I’m a little biased, but you should totally buy something too. Or lots of things. And tell your friends! Also, feel free to ask me about it! I kind of like sharing the stories of Jesus, the exciting ones and the hard ones.

We serve an incredible God. We are loved by an amazing Savior.

And we are carriers of His hope. How can we not share that with the world?

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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