Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Abundant Provision

"And God is able to bless you abundantly, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work."
2 Corinthians 9:8

This has been a hard week. I went from having a great attitude about the future to wondering how we will ever make it through another transition. I went from sitting in trust with an expectant heart to sitting in hopelessness and focusing on self-pity while looking toward the future. 

We had a meeting this week to discuss where we will go after our teaching is finished at RVA (in two weeks!). As we have been looking ahead to this next transition, I continue to be reminded of how much God has provided in this last "displacement" period. Remembering how abundantly God has taken care of us has helped me have hope as we look to what is next. I heard a quote this week that said, "As we look back in faithfulness, we can look forward in hope." Amen! As I look back and see the faithfulness of God, His above and beyond provision, I am able to look forward in hope- knowing and trusting that He will provide yet again. 

Here are a few of the many ways God has provided abundantly in this season:
When we first evacuated, we had several people in Kenya and in the States arranging our details for when we arrived on ground. We were just told when to show up where. They scheduled plane tickets, hotels, food, etc. It was such a blessing! We also had a family we had met at a Missionary training last year welcome us into their home with open arms. They allowed us to stay in their home for a total of a couple weeks and provided us with everything we needed (and AMAZING food!). Our community has gone above and beyond to take care of us in this time!

If you have to be displaced somewhere, it's a huge bonus if that place ends up being beautiful. Kenya is beautiful! We have had the privilege of seeing beautiful animals and wildlife in Kenya. It has been so uplifting to come close to God's creation and see more of His creativity. 

God knows me so well. He knows my heart for teaching and love for children (because He put both of those things in me). Although teaching Kindergarten has been tiring, it has brought me so much joy in this hard season! These kiddos are creative, silly, hilarious and fun. They constantly keep me on my toes and always (well, almost always ;)) bring a huge smile to my face. I'm so grateful for the blessing of Kindergarteners in this season! 

God has provided ways for us to stay in touch with our friend in Mundri while we have had to be out of the country. We have been able to contact them by phone regularly. He even allowed Bishop and Paul to visit from Mundri. We were able to connect with them and hear more about how everyone was doing. 

These are just a few of the many ways God has shown us His abundant provision. He has also done this through faithful supporters who have stuck with us even when we didn't know exactly what our plans were. He has provided through many friends, supporters and family members who have sent encouraging e-mails and reminded us of God's faithfulness when we were discouraged. He even allowed us to receive several packages while we have been here. These have come at just the right time and brought so much joy on hard days. 

As I recount God's abundant provision, I look forward with hope. Hope that He will provide yet again. Hope that He loves us and will always take care of us- even during long years of transitions and unknowns. Grateful for God's amazing provision and love today.

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

The Word of Our Testimony {to ourselves}

A verse that has been an encouragement to me during this "displacement" period is: 

"Be at rest once more, O my soul, for the Lord has been good to you!"
Psalm 116:7

We are only able to allow ourselves to rest when we have reason to believe that we can trust the Lord to be good to us. What I love about this verse is that it is a reminder that God is trustworthy- because He's been good to us before! It's a reminder that He is in control now, just as He has been in control in our lives in the past. 

When I am going through really difficult times, a dear friend of mine (who walked with me during one of the most difficult times in my life) often says the line,  "Theresa, you've been here before and you made it through. You are strong enough for this!" She reminds me that the struggle isn't new- I've faced hard thing before and God was faithful then, so we can be assured that He will be faithful yet again. 

A helpful practice for me is to insert truths about how God has been good to me into this verse as a reminder that He has been faithful in my life and will continue to be faithful. For example:

"Be at rest once more, O my soul, for the Lord {the One who brought restoration and salvation after the house fire; The Lord who comforted after Nigeria; The God who provided abundantly during evacuation; The One who has brought abundant comfort and encouragement through friends at just the right times} has been good to you!

When I remind myself of how God has been faithful in the past, it is like preaching my testimony to myself. Why do we share testimonies to other people? To show how great God is and how much He deserves to be praised. When I preach to myself about what God has done int he past, it gives me hope that He WILL do it again. Why? Because He is faithful and He has already shown Himself to be able and willing to come through for me. 

Revelation 12:11 reminds us that we will overcome, "by the blood of the lamb and the word of our testimonies." Sometimes the person who needs to hear our testimonies the most is ourselves. It's how we overcome. We need to remind ourselves of how God has been faithful so that we will believe that He will be faithful once again. 

My prayer for you today is that you will be reminded of how God has been faithful to you in the past. I pray this reminder will encourage you in whatever difficulties you are going through at the moment. I hope you will be able to trust that just as God has been faithful to you before, He is willing and able to answer you prayers and come through for you yet again. 

Sunday, June 14, 2015

Current Thoughts

Here's the trust right now, blog readers...

I am a hot cold (it's freezing here in Kijabe!) mess right now.

The reality of the past few months has hit hard and it has been a lot to process in the midst of teaching and everything else we are doing right now. This "limbo period" of not knowing when/if we can return to Mundri or when/if we will have a healthy pregnancy is tiring and seems unending at the moment.

Because of my wonderful husband and a great podcast we listened to today, I have gained some good insight on living well in this time (rather than continuing to mope...). The message we listened to today was on hope. The pastor (referring to Romans 8:13-25) said that "hope is groaning inwardly while waiting expectantly". He went on to say that "hope forces us to wrestle with God". If we are going to hope well, it forces us to face God and wrestle with Him about why we do not have the things we are longing for- why He has not seen fit to provide these things for us now. It makes us ask God why, all-the-while, holding on to expectations that these things will come to fruition one day.

So, today I am choosing to hope. I am still sad, yes. There are still many, many unknowns, yes. But, in the midst of it all, I am choosing to wrestle well so that I can hope well. I am choosing to see that this dark period of time is (or will) making me stronger.

Today I am hoping for peace in South Sudan. I hope my friends in Mundri will be provided for. I hope they have food to eat tonight and a comfortable place to lay their head. I hope they know the love of Christ in the midst of this chaotic time. I hope we will be able to return to Mundri. That we will be able to continue to do the work we started last September. I hope we are able have clarity on the future soon and God will bring peace to our hearts in the midst of the waiting period. I hope we will have children in God's timing and that these children will know God's love and reflect His glory.

In order to hope these things fully, I need to take time to ask God the "why's" that accompany each of them. Questions such as, "Why, Lord, why haven't you allowed peace in South Sudan? Why have so many people died?" and "Why can't You bring clarity to the future now? Why do we have to sit in the unknowns when it is so uncomfortable?". Asking these questions does not always lead to answers. I don't expect that there are simple answers (that my little mind could understand) to these big questions. But I know there is purpose in the wrestling. There is good that comes in the process of asking these questions and seeking the Lord in them. My prayer for us (all of us) is that we would hold on to hope in the midst of difficulty. I pray we would be willing to wrestle and ask the hard questions, knowing that God is big enough to comfort us in the uncertainty. I pray we would know "the God of all hope" and trust Him with our hopes and desires- knowing that He loves and cares for his children.

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

"...But Our God is Greater"

Theresa and I have been calling our friends in Mundri every few days to check in and see how they are doing. Each time we call we hear a bit more hope in their voice but then get stories of no food or supplies, a lot of soldiers, people who haven’t returned from the bush and generally a lot of fear. We then hear…

…But our God is greater.


And they mean it. They believe it. They trust it.

It has made me wonder if when they say ‘our’ in the statement if I really get the God they are talking about. Would I, after going through what they’ve gone through, say God is greater? Would my faith have been deepened because of my suffering or would it be shattered?

Do I know this God? The One who is greater than all my problems. Do I trust this God? The One who promises to make all things right. Is my faith deep enough to be satisfied in simply knowing that God rather than having Him give me all I want?

Uhh…(long pause of silence)

I think so. I want to.

My problem is I want to know this God without the suffering. I want to know the God who is greater than my suffering without actually having to experience it.

However, if I truly want to be transformed into the image of Christ I’m going to suffer…because He did.

And, when we suffer we see the depths of our faith. We see what we run to. We see where we run.

Our friends in Mundri have found through their experience of suffering the only truly safe place they can run is Christ. He is greater.

May I (we!) run to the person of Christ when suffering or grief or sadness comes and, after being real about the suffering that is taking place (not glossing over it as if it didn’t matter), say “but our God is greater!”