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God is moving, can you see it?
August 24, 2011 9:22 pm
Published in: Pre-Field Tags: , , ,

Desert to FLOOD.  Both are extreme, both are transformative, and both happened to me.

July was, well, dry dry DRY.  Spiritually, physically, emotionally, the whole she-bang.

I had done my level best to carry this Africa thing on my own.  Didn’t work.  Almost took me out in fact.  I wound up in a barren place, out of breath with a canteen full of dust.

“I will make her like a desert,

turn her into a parched land and slay her with thirst

Hosea 2:3

Sounds about right.  This wasn’t random, it was a result of my mistrust, my unbelief, my stubbornness, and my utter lack of faithfulness in the God who created my very bones.   I have been stuck at 70% of my monthly support-raising goal for ages.  By the time July was almost spent, so was my hope of ever making it to Africa.  I know it sounds dramatic, but when you are faced with a huge wall of lack that won’t budge, things can quickly become daunting.  The forest become a desert.  As cracked, dessicant, and awful as it was, I was lead to that place for a purpose… so I would know what living water tastes like.  So that I could recognize the hand of my Provider.

 “Forget the former things;
do not dwell on the past.
See, I am doing a new thing!
Now it springs up; do you not perceive it?
I am making a way in the wilderness
and streams in the wasteland.
The wild animals honor me,
the jackals and the owls,
because I provide water in the wilderness
and streams in the wasteland,
to give drink to my people, my chosen,
the people I formed for myself
that they may proclaim my praise.”

Isaiah 43:18-21

A wonderful man named Steve Valentine always said that when we are down to nothing, God is up to something.  Well that little saying just became all kinds of real.

On July 13th, my Grandpa went on to his next big adventure, eternity with God.  My Dad and his three brothers came together from all over the country to celebrate Grandpa, and to take care of everything that is left behind after someone leaves this world.  My Grandpa was a strong, smart, caring, and generous man.  He flew planes in WWII, and collected Meerschaum tobacco pipes, loved roast beef, and was no-nonsense.  His caretakers called him “The Commander.”  When I went to Africa the first time he sent a nugget of advice along with his hefty donation… “Take some Deet, and don’t forget the Kaopectate.”  A practical man indeed.

At the very end of July, my Dad returned from the funeral and time with his brothers with some news.  Grandpa had left his entire estate to his family, and that turned out to be a lot.  Before his health declined, he had expressed wanting to be a donor for my new life in Africa.  My dad wanted to honor Lord and Grandpa, and thus committed helping open the floodgates to God’s unique plan of provision.  Not only that, but all this month, I have had new donors come out of the woodwork that I had previously written off.  God is up to something, the waters are springing up from the ground… and I am all but swimming.

With God infront of me, and the family of God beside me, I will hopefully land safely in Kenya on October 1st…. OCTOBER FIRST!!!!!!!!  AH!  That means that September 27th is my last day in Montana.  Woah.  The rains just came like a hurricane.  All I can do is stand with my arms to the skies.  I am so happy things didn’t happen the way I imagined they would… but that I was surprised by God’s unique hand.  He is up to something, the proof is in the water.

 “The poor and needy search for water,
but there is none;
their tongues are parched with thirst.
But I the LORD will answer them;
I, the God of Israel, will not forsake them.
I will make rivers flow on barren heights,
and springs within the valleys.
I will turn the desert into pools of water,
and the parched ground into springs.
I will put in the desert
the cedar and the acacia, the myrtle and the olive.
I will set junipers in the wasteland,
the fir and the cypress together,
so that people may see and know,
may consider and understand,
that the hand of the LORD has done this,
that the Holy One of Israel has created it.

Isaiah 41:17-20

 

August 12, 2011 10:25 pm
Published in: Pre-Field Tags: , ,

“How do we read the Bible?”

Frequently, and thoroughly.”

This wonderful man has put into words, the very thing that has been heavy on my heart lately… to read and know the Bible as a whole.


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bTYzUc-ezUc&feature=player_embedded

 

Mmmm, scripture.

August 6, 2011 7:34 pm
Published in: Pre-Field Tags: , , ,

Film is amazing.

It has the ability to connect our hearts to the lives of people thousands of miles away.

When I go to Africa, I will have the opportunity to take part in making films about what God is doing in Africa… with the aim of helping connect people the world over to Africa.  Wowza, I can’t wait to be a part of that.

Below are some (short) films that have lifted my heart, inspired my soul and gotten my creative juices flowing.  They are about real people, their stories, their lives and our world… and they have me chomping at the bit to start creating in Africa.

Enjoy,  I sure did.

July 25, 2011 1:19 pm
Published in: Pre-Field Tags: , , ,

DRY (adjective)

1. free from moisture or excess moisture; not moist; not wet

2. having or characterized by little or no rain

3. characterized by absence, deficiency, or failure of natural ordinary moisture.


Yep.  That is how I feel…like my soul is flaking, my heart is parched, and my frame is withering.  Dry.

 

 

Is it this arid, hot, Montana summer?  Have I failed to drink enough liquids?  No… this is dehydration of the spirit, and I need a long cool drink out of God’s fountain, before I turn to dust.

Have you ever gotten to this place?  Where you go and go and GO, until you find that, whoa, I actually do have a end to my rope… and here are the frays to prove it.  Preparing for Africa is so… involved.  I never expected it to be so hard. Being a big picture kind of gal, I tend to not consider the weight of the details, the amount of work that is attached to one big adventure. Or the amount of feeling.

Everyday I find myself stopping and staring at people and things that I will miss.  Just this morning I looked at a picture of my mom and sister dancing in our family kitchen, lit by morning light, and had a mound of sadness well up in my chest.

 

 

I will miss the sound the coffee maker gurgling, the dogs’ fingernails clicking across the wood floor, and my dad talking to Lidia Bastianich on PBS as they make the same Italian dish… continents away.  Soon I will be continents away.  Whew.

Turns out the process of support-raising is more involved than I ever dreamed too.  I feel like I have hit a wall.  After hundreds of letters, copious phone calls, relentless calculating, endless spreadsheets and paperwork, I still have miles to go… and I am spiritually on empty with the pedal pushed to the floor.

I am at the famous junction… the place where I have mustered all of my humanly efforts and come up short, and God has to show up and divinely finish this thing.  Moses was here, not to mention David, Ruth, Daniel, Elijah and countless others.  It was God who parted the sea and provided an escape for the captives of Egypt, not Moses.  It was God who led the king to victory and saved him from his enemies, not David.  It was God who delivered a poor foreigner and her mother-in-law back home and saved them from destitution, not Ruth or Naomi.  It was God who stayed the lions’ jaws and gave a man the wisdom interpret dreams and to navigate the royal courts, not Daniel.  It was God who sent a fire ball from Heaven to consume a soggy offering in front of hundreds of people on Mount Carmel and prove His power, not Elijah.  And on and on.  It is God who accomplishes, not me.

Lately I have been letting my failures and lackings determine my worth.  After my dear friend Kim prayed for me this Sunday, she looked at me and said, “Bess, it is God who tells you your worth.”  ZING, that one went right to the heart.  Nothing else has the right or authority to tell me my value, and I am closing my ears to God when I allow anyone or anything else to tell me what I am worth.

 

“All this is evidence that God’s judgment is right, and as a result you will be counted worthy of the kingdom of God, for which you are suffering.  God is just: He will pay back trouble to those who trouble you and give relief to you who are troubled, and to us as well.”

2 Thessalonians 1:5-7

 

Trying to do all of this on my own (and failing), compounded with the ache of impending transition, separation, and raw newness has sucked all the moisture out of my soul.  I looked up dry in the back of my bible, and God brought me to tears as I read this passage in Ezekiel…

 

The Valley of Dry Bones

1 The hand of the LORD was on me, and he brought me out by the Spirit of the LORD and set me in the middle of a valley; it was full of bones. 2 He led me back and forth among them, and I saw a great many bones on the floor of the valley, bones that were very dry. 3 He asked me, “Son of man, can these bones live?”

I said, “Sovereign LORD, you alone know.”

4 Then he said to me, “Prophesy to these bones and say to them, ‘Dry bones, hear the word of the LORD! 5 This is what the Sovereign LORD says to these bones: I will make breath enter you, and you will come to life. 6 I will attach tendons to you and make flesh come upon you and cover you with skin;

I will put breath in you, and you will come to life. Then you will know that I am the LORD.’”

7 So I prophesied as I was commanded. And as I was prophesying, there was a noise, a rattling sound, and the bones came together, bone to bone. 8 I looked, and tendons and flesh appeared on them and skin covered them, but there was no breath in them.

9 Then he said to me, “Prophesy to the breath; prophesy, son of man, and say to it, ‘This is what the Sovereign LORD says: Come, breath, from the four winds and breathe into these slain, that they may live.’” 10 So I prophesied as he commanded me, and breath entered them; they came to life and stood up on their feet—a vast army.

11 Then he said to me: “Son of man, these bones are the people of Israel. They say, ‘Our bones are dried up and our hope is gone; we are cut off.’ 12 Therefore prophesy and say to them: ‘This is what the Sovereign LORD says: My people, I am going to open your graves and bring you up from them; I will bring you back to the land of Israel. 13 Then you, my people, will know that I am the LORD, when I open your graves and bring you up from them. 14 I will put my Spirit in you and you will live, and I will settle you in your own land.

Then you will know that I the LORD have spoken, and I have done it, declares the LORD.’”

Ezekiel 37

 

I need the breath of God to enter these bones again.  I need to know the sheer power of Your might, because I have none left.  I am as useless as a pile of bones on the desert floor.  I need to know that it is You who will do it, that You won’t leave me in a heap on the cracked earth.

 

The Spirit of God has made me;
the breath of the Almighty gives me life.

Job 33:4

 

Breathe on me Lord, and I will inhale deeply.  Bring me to life again, and in your time, bring me to Africa.

 

 

June 12, 2011 7:28 pm
Published in: Pre-Field Tags: , , , ,

I’ll confess, for a while I truly thought it was just my camera that was broken.

After all, I did drop it (which resulted in a GASP and maaaaybe a curse word from me) a few months ago while on vacation with my friends in San Diego.  Strange ticking sounds emitted from my lens as I cranked the focus-ring around, trying to get a clear picture.  After 10 minutes of sweaty panic, my camera started working again… mostly.

Just a few weeks ago, I experienced a strange sadness as I packed up my dear camera and shipped her off to be appraised and exchanged for a newer bigger camera.  This old girl has been through a lot with me… three of my four years in college, seven weddings, two newspaper jobs, backpacking in the mountains, 49 days in Kenya, and numerous jaunts through the tall grass of meadows and orchards.  She has recorded the faces and lives of not only my family and my dear friends, but of people who were in my viewfinder for only a moment.  I’ll miss you, a lot.

(please excuse this horrid photo, when your camera is among the packing peanuts, one must resort to the phone camera… shudder!)

Even with a beautiful, completely unbroken camera in hand, I still couldn’t focus.  What the heck?  I know what I’m doing… I’m not a nincompoop… most of the time.  Could it be my eyes?!  Surely not, I’ve been 20/20 all my life!  Medical forms have always a breezy cinch for me…no braces, no allergies, no prescriptions, and certainly no glasses… normal as normal gets.  Well, there was one minor tangle with a mini-trampoline at the age of six that resulted in a broken elbow… but I will save my dashed hopes of Olympic glory for a later date.

With confidence in my complete normality quivering, I went to see Dr. Kim… gentle master of all things eye-related.  She put a giant contraption up to my face, a few drops in my eyes and with a click, whirl, click… I could read the BOTTOM row (which I always thought was an unreachable visionary feat, there only to remind us of our mortal state).

It took a week for me to find just the right frames, and then two days more for Erik (the extremely kind and patient optometrist) to make and fit my lenses.

When I put my new glasses on last Wednesday, I almost puked.  Details! A whole new world of beautiful details, and I could see them all!!

I feel a tiny bit like Mr. Black in the beautiful/sad/brilliant novel Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close by Jonathan Safran Foer (which if you haven’t read, you must, but beware, you might cry… a lot).  The main character, a little boy named Oskar, is over at his elderly neighbor’s (Mr. Black) apartment in New York City, and they decide to turn on Mr. Black’s hearing aides (which he turned off years ago).

“Do it slowly,” he said, almost like he was begging me.  “It’s been a long, long time!”…

Then, out of nowhere, a flock of birds flew by the the window, extremely fast and incredibly close.  Maybe twenty of them.  Maybe more.  But they also seemed like just one bird, because somehow they all knew exactly what to do.  Mr. Black grabbed his ears and made a bunch of weird sounds.  He started crying- not out of happiness, I could tell, but not out of sadness, either.

“Do you want me to turn them off?” I asked, but he wasn’t paying attention to me anymore.  He was walking around the room, sticking his ears up to anything that made noise, including very quiet things like pipes.  I wanted to stay there and watch him hear the world but it was getting late… I told Mr. Black that I would pick him up next Saturday at 7:00…

He said, “OK,” and the sound of his own voice made him cry the most.

Now that I can see properly, it makes me wonder about all the things I have been missing over the years.  What photos have I not seen, and then not taken?  What have I overlooked?  What beauty have I missed?

It’s no coincidence that as the flaws in my physical vision were recognized, examined, and treated… God was examining the eyes of my heart at the same time.  He always seems to do stuff like that with me, coinciding the physical with the spiritual.  Double wammie!

For a long time I have operated as a “snippet Christian.”  I pick and choose tiny little bits of scripture that I like, tote around a few select characteristics of Jesus that appeal to me, give a quick nod to the Holy Spirit when glacing at Acts, and generally disregard the rest.  I could tell you in 5 seconds flat what John 3:16 says, but have not a clue about verses 15 & 17… let alone chapter 3, nor the whole Gospel of John.  It’s like I’ve been living out my faith with beer-goggles on… I’m dizzy and sick of it.  My heart has been stirring in heavy dissatisfaction for a while now, and, well… the pot just boiled over.

I want it all.  I don’t just want the Jesus who died more than 2,000 ago… I want the Jesus who was with the Father at the beginning, who dwelled among us, and who will come again in glory too bright to look at.  I don’t just want the Father who was (in my clouded eyes) a big warring meanie in the Old Testament… I want the Father who breathed humanity into being, has never to this day stopped fighting for us, desiring us, and making a way for us to come home.  I don’t just want the Holy Spirit who landed on Jesus like a dove… I want the Holy Spirit that hovered over the water before creation, that blew like a mighty wind and filled the people at Pentecost, the Power that raised Jesus from the grip of death, and the great Counselor that resides in my soul.

And I want the living Word.   I don’t just want the 23rd Psalm, Romans 5, or John 3:16… I want the WHOLE book!  I want to know why every book was written, who wrote it, and to whom it was written.  I want to understand God through the ages, I want to see His hand through history, to this moment, and beyond.  I want the scriptures engraved upon my heart, to know, that I know, that I know what my God has said.

7 The law of the LORD is perfect,
refreshing the soul.
The statutes of the LORD are trustworthy,
making wise the simple.
8 The precepts of the LORD are right,
giving joy to the heart.
The commands of the LORD are radiant,
giving light to the eyes.
9 The fear of the LORD is pure,
enduring forever.
The decrees of the LORD are firm,
and all of them are righteous.

Psalm 19:7-9

This will take a long time.  The Word is rich, and fathomlessly deep.  I have, at best, 70-ish years left on this earth.  Lord, help me to use this time well. Set in me an unquenchable thirst for the Word, born out of an inextinguishable yearning for you.  Open the the eyes of my heart Lord, and strap on my divine-cardiac-spectacles when the way becomes unclear.

 

17 I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father,

may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation,

so that you may know him better. 18

I pray also that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened

in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you,

the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints,

19 and his incomparably great power for us who believe.

Ephesians 1:17-19

 

May I be remembered as a woman who knew her God, and was known by Him… even if they call me Four-Eyes.

 

May 8, 2011 6:29 pm
Published in: Pre-Field Tags: , ,

Well, that’s not entirely true… I can generally make a sloppy twist out of my hair, that started out with the best intentions of being a beautifully symmetrical french braid, but ended in a sad tangled mess.  This must be remedied.  I cannot possibly hope to be a thriving missionary in Africa if I can’t even braid my own hair, right?!

Ha.  The things that whiz through my ever active mind these days.  It gets a bit ridiculous sometimes.  But there is something down there, at the root (follicle?) of it all.  It is my need to feel well prepared.  My desperation, rather, not to be found wanting.  Especially in a new place.

This is my first big move away from the home I have known for 23 years.  Sure, I moved away for college… 20 minutes away to be exact.  But, by the end of this year I will be more than 20 hours away!  Go big or go home, right?!  Speaking of home… I am going to miss this place so much, my roots run ever so deeply here.  This is looking out over our back pasture of my childhood home.

I know myself here.  I know my place, and what is expected of me.  I know how to speak, eat, travel, interact, work, and behave here.  I am well equipped for life here… I am prepared.

Soon I will be failing the Boy Scouts’ mantra, and find my self un-prepared.  My life will be roughly ten time zones, one hop over the equator, several languages and many cultures away from everything I have ever known.  How do you prepare for Africa?

There are the practical ways… vaccinations, visas, international drivers license, head lamp, and a sturdy pair of shoes.

But what about my mind, my heart, my soul?  How do I prepare them?

1. I am taking my armor with me… even if it sets off the metal detector in the airport.  Without it, I am like a Boy Scout without his pocket knife, a Girl Scout with out her cookies, uh, er, her crafty nature and knowledge of the 52 uses of pipe cleaners.  Ok, so I was only in Girl Scouts for a few months… but the POINT is, I would vulnerable to all sorts of crap without my holy armor.

14Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, 15 and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. 16 In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. 17 Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.

Ephesians 6:14-17

2. I am anticipating hard times.  I am expecting to be challenged, misunderstood, annoyed, home sick, and painfully stretched beyond myself.  But through that, God has promised me that I will grow.  I cling to that.

2 Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, 3 because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. 4 Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.

James 1:2-4

Not lacking in ANYTHING.  I like the sound of that.  I have the feeling that I am going to like the reality of that even better.  I am coming to Africa with four bags, bright eyes, and a heart that is ringing with a call… comeFollow the sound of my voice, come forward, come deeper, bring everything that I have been equipping you with all along, I have more for you, I have a life that you could never have dreamed up on your own… come.

My friend Kate told me, “God doesn’t call the equipped, He equips the called.” Take the disciples.  One day, their hands touched damp nets, the smooth scales of fish, and the rough wood of boats… but then Jesus came.

18 As Jesus was walking beside the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers, Simon called Peter and his brother Andrew. They were casting a net into the lake, for they were fishermen. 19Come, follow me,” Jesus said, “and I will make you fishers of men.” 20 At once they left their nets and followed him.

Matthew 4:18-20

He called, they answered.  He walked beside them, taught them, and grew them up into the men they were meant to be.  Then their hands touched people… Jesus changed everything.

I’m coming Lord, I know you have what I need.

7 Then I said, “Here I am, I have come
it is written about me in the scroll.
8 I desire to do your will, O my God;
your law is within my heart.”

Psalm 40:7-8

Engrave your word upon my heart, refine me through fire, even though it will burn.  Give me grace as I venture out, and perseverance that I may endure.  Continue this work you have started in me.

And if it’s not too much trouble, send me a friend who knows how to french braid 🙂

April 24, 2011 10:43 pm
Published in: Pre-Field Tags: , , ,

This has been one of the most beautiful Easter Sundays of my life.  Sunrise hymns, blue skies, blue birds, fresh perspective, tasty benedict, laying the the grass with eyes closed and letting the sunlight make my eyelids glow, dancing to worship music with my mom, laughing with my family… I am alive, because He is alive.  Incredible.

As much as I try, I simply can’t describe Jesus… or the magnitude of what He has done for me, in me, with me, or what He will do next.  The grave is empty, the curtain is in tatters, and I will never be the same.  This is the greatest day in history, oh joyous Easter.

“I saw the Lord always before me.
Because he is at my right hand,
I will not be shaken.
26 Therefore my heart is glad and my tongue rejoices;
my body also will live in hope,
27 because you will not abandon me to the grave,
nor will you let your Holy One see decay.
28 You have made known to me the paths of life;
you will fill me with joy in your presence.’

Acts 2:25-28

April 6, 2011 9:33 pm
Published in: Pre-Field Tags: , , ,

 

Spring is in the air, and I’ve got some FUN up my sleeves!  My good friend and fellow missionary Holly Leonard and I are hosting a joint support-raising event, and I am SO pumped!

Here’s the skinny…

If you will be in the Missoula/Florence area at the end of April… mark your calendars!!!

Join Holly and I for a night of LIVE music, DELICIOUS dessert, and EXCITING news… we’re dusting off our passports and heading into FULL TIME ministry all over the globe!!!

Come to the Africa & Beyond fundraiser at Florence Carlton Community Church on April 30th at 5:30pm!

We will be sharing about our upcoming adventures into Africa, Asia, and beyond, and want YOU to be there!

Enjoy live music performed by our talented friends Grandfather Glen (Pat, Katherine, and Lizzie Cook), Daniel Beard, Courtney Mostad, Daniel Fernandez, and MORE!!

Partake in an array of scrumptious desserts, while sipping on a tasty coffee or tea! We will have gluten free options as well, never fear!

Bring your family, your friends, your special someone, all are welcome!! That includes your kids too… childcare WILL be provided!

OPEN donation at the door, all funds raised will be split evenly between Holly and I and go towards supporting our upcoming ministries with Africa Inland Mission International and Hope’s Promise Orphan Care Ministries (www.hopespromise.com). ANY amount blesses us tremendously!

Eat.
Worship.
Pray.
Partner.

We can’t wait to share this evening with all of YOU! Thank you for all of the love, prayers and support you have shown us already!!  The body of Christ is absolutely incredible!

See you there…

(The church is located at 20075 Old Hwy 93, Florence, MT 59833)

 


March 17, 2011 9:22 pm
Published in: Pre-Field Tags: , ,

No, not the side of my head… the temple of the Holy Spirit!  ME!

Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit,

who is in you, whom you have received from God?

You are not your own; you were bought at a price.

Therefore honor God with your bodies.

1 Corinthians 6:19-20

I remember when that truth finally sank in for me… that I am the new house of the Holy of Holies.  The Spirit of God no longer lives in a private part of the temple, only accessible to high priests, He lives in me.  WHOA.  This is so wild.

I don’t know about all you other temples out there… but I feel like this kind of raises the bar for our lives.  We can’t just get away with being a regular old tent of flesh, blood and bones anymore.  We were formed, grown, redeemed and transformed to house God.  That is pretty stinkin’ majestic!

The thing is, I forget this sometimes.  I get caught up in slingin’ coffees 40 hours a week at work, doing busy little things on my days off , not to mention planning, prepping, and tweaking all the details in my life to feel like I am in control.  I am forgetting about that majestic truth.  God is inside of me.

So I’ve decided it’s time for a temple scrub-down.  Physically, and spiritually.  I mean, this is the only temple I’m gonna get… so I’m breakin’ out my Jesus Brillo-pad!

I’ve started going to Zumba and Oula classes!  Oh-mylanta, is it ever FUN!  For an hour three times a week I get to dance around (like a HUGE dork) and exercise the temple.  Ole!

In celebration of the loosening grip of winter in Montana, and the promise of a balmy 50 degrees tomorrow… I’m going for a bike ride! I’m gonna bust my trusty turquoise road bike (her name is Gwendalyn the Road Warrior) out of the garage and go for a pedal, yay!

I just completed a gall-bladder and liver detox cleanse.  I survived one week without (beloved) dairy, and delicious meat. I gagged down several servings of Epsom salts, and had one whole day spent in close proximity to the bathroom.  While sparing you the gory details, I can tell you that I feel like a million bucks, and am host to many less stones these days!  Sha-zam!

I’m jealously carving out time for Jesus.  I am coming to find that the days and nights in which I honor that time with Him, are indescribably better than the ones I choose to fill with busy-ness or, or quite often laziness.

On a backpacking trip last summer, my friend Jill asked me to picture a place where Jesus and I get to go together, where it is just He and I.  She asked me what my special and unique sanctuary and sacred retreat with the Lord looked like.  I had honestly never thought of that before.  Mostly I had just been seeing the dark insides of my eyelids when I prayed.   So I stilled my thoughts and opened up my imagination.  Where would my perfect retreat with the Lord be?  What would it look like?   I pictured a sun-lit clearing in the woods, a flowering hill (I can have flowers, I’m a girl!), fresh, earthy, and calm.  It was a place of peace, and safety, and seclusion.

Now believe me, I don’t physically get to zap to a meadow every time I pray.  While that would be totally rad, teleporting isn’t necessary.  You see, God is offering us unrestricted access to Himself 24/7/365.  He beckons us into the folds of His deep peace, unfathomable love, overflowing joy, and inexhaustable strength.  All we have to do is but arise and answer His gentle call.

My beloved spoke and said to me,
“Arise, my darling,
my beautiful one, come with me.
See! The winter is past;
the rains are over and gone.
Flowers appear on the earth;
the season of singing has come,
the cooing of doves is heard in our land.
13 The fig tree forms its early fruit;
the blossoming vines spread their fragrance.
Arise, come, my darling;
my beautiful one, come with me.”

Song of Solomon 2:10-13

Jesus is calling to us, from within our own restored hearts.  Come away with me! I just have to ensure that I give myself space and time alone to answer.  Ok, Jesus, let’s feel the flowers beneath our toes!

Scrub, scrub, scrub…

Because of Jesus, I have been given a new heart, and a been turned into a sparkly new temple.  Bling, bling!

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ,

the new creation has come:

The old has gone, the new is here!

2 Corinthians 5:17

It is my prayer that I will remember what Christ has done for me.  May I never let the walls tarnish, nor allow the lights grow dim, or ever let the temple fall into disrepair.  Squeaky clean, and lemony fresh, I am making time to dwell.  Lord, help me to honor you with this temple.

February 15, 2011 11:04 pm
Published in: Pre-Field Tags: , , ,

I just going to be honest with you, John Piper gives me headaches… and I LOVE it!

It’s a good kind of headache, you see, the kind you get when your brain and heart are so overwhelmed with new revelations that they actually hurt.

I have been trying to read John Piper’s book Let the Nations Be Glad since July, and I am only half way through the first chapter.  Now don’t get me wrong, I looooooove me some books, and usually I whip right through all kinds of lovely literature, but with him… it is different.

This writing is heavy!  JP has a way of packing the pages with scripture and ideas about God that are so simple and astounding at the same time that you want to smack yourself repeatedly on the forehead for not seeing all this before.

Exhibit A… from the FIRST page.

“Missions is not the ultimate goal of the church.  Worship is.  Missions exist because worship does not.  Worship is ultimate, not missions, because God is ultimate, not man.   When this age is over, and the countless millions of the redeemed fall on their faces before the throne of God, missions will be no more.  It is a temorary necessity.  But worship abides forever.

Holy guacamole, John Piper… I think I just had an aneurysm.

There will be a day when missions don’t exist.   On that day the heavens will be rent with the glory of the Lord, and the praise will NEVER end.  Oh my.

This is such a needed and refreshing perspective for me.  I have been so focused on the goal… getting to Africa to do MISSIONS, support raising so that I can go do MISSIONS, getting shots and medical clearance so that I can go and do MISSIONS, finding a dang detailed map of Nairobi so that I don’t get lost when I go to Africa to do MISSIONS… and on and on.  In all the bustley-bustle of getting ready for Africa, I easily lose sight of the main goal…

Worship.  White hot, pure, unabashed, unrelenting, uncontainable worship.   Letting that worship of the Lord characterize my life in every way.    Worship must come before missions, because it is the FUEL of missions.  How am I supposed to invite the nations into worship if my life doesn’t reflect His all comsuming glory within me?

“Passion for God in worship precedes the offer of God in preaching.  You can’t commend what you don’t cherish.  Where passion for God is weak, zeal for missions will be weak.  Even outsiders feel the disparity between the boldness of our claim upon the nations and the blandness of our engagement with God.”

I’m going to take some Tylenol and turn out the lights,  my head and heart are aching with sweet, sweet overwhelming truth… thank you Jesus and John Piper.

Consume me Lord, like fire and wind and a great flood.  Knock me over with the weight of your glory.  Let me just but touch your hem and feel my heart burn.

“My heart rejoices in the LORD;
in the LORD my horn is lifted high.

There is no one holy like the LORD;
there is no one besides you;
there is no Rock like our God.”

1 Samuel 2:1

“Give praise to the LORD, proclaim his name;
make known among the nations what he has done.
Sing to him, sing praise to him;
tell of all his wonderful acts.
Glory in his holy name;
let the hearts of those who seek the LORD rejoice.
Look to the LORD and his strength;
seek his face always.”

1 Chronicles 16:8-11