Monday, November 15, 2010

Seeking a whatever attitude

Well it's been about forever....I've thought about writing on here many times but haven't taken the time to sit and write my thoughts out.

This semester has been absolutely nuts, but I love it. I'm learning a lot- about God, about life, about people, and about myself. After coming back from Uganda I never pictured myself as a senior in college living in a freshmen ladies' dorm. I'm not gonna lie it's crazy at times, but I honestly love it and getting to know the ladies on my floor has been so worth it. They are wonderful.

I've caught myself lately worrying about my next step after Bethel. Thinking about it makes my heart race and I have no idea which direction God will lead me in. God has shown me time and time again this semester that I need to have a "whatever" attitude. Not a whatever attitude in the sense that I don't care, but a whatever attitude in the sense that I will do whatever God asks, go wherever He leads, and do it whenever He asks me to. For a long time I thought I was surrendered to God in those areas....but then He showed me that wasn't the case. I was putting parameters on my obedience. While I was saying I'll go and do whatever God asked me to...in the back of my mind it was more like "I'll do "whatever" and go "wherever" as long as it's in the places I want to go.

That reality check really smacked me in the face. God is constantly reminding me that His plans are great and that I can trust Him, and yet I get scared and try to rely on myself. It's a daily process of surrender. While this area of growth is hard, it is SO worth it. I feel Him preparing me for another season of change and I desire to follow Him through it.

Recently I was reading in Isaiah 40. A big part of that chapter talks about God's greatness.

"Who has measured the waters in the hollow of his hand,
or with the breadth of his hand marked off the heavens?
Who has held the dust of the earth in a basket,
or weighed the mountains on the scales
and the hills in a balance?
Who can fathom the Spirit of the LORD,
or instruct the LORD as his counselor?....

Surely the nations are like a drop in a bucket;
they are regarded as dust on the scales;
he weighs the islands as though they were fine dust...

The LORD is the everlasting God,
the Creator of the ends of the earth.
He will not grow tired or weary,
and his understanding no one can fathom.
He gives strength to the weary
and increases the power of the weak.
Even youths grow tired and weary,
and young men stumble and fall;
but those who hope in the LORD
will renew their strength.
They will soar on wings like eagles;
they will run and not grow weary,
they will walk and not be faint. "

The God of the universe, who is capable of things we cannot even fathom, holds us. He knows it all- sees us inside and out. He sees the big picture. He's got us covered. I find so much comfort in that.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Dare to Dream

Do you dream big? I've been asking myself this question a lot in the last few weeks. I had a conversation with a friend a few weeks back and we talked about something they did to help someone someone else and while talking about it they responded, "Yeah, that was back when I thought I could change the world." This statement has stuck with me and has set unsettled in my mind. Why do we so often tell ourselves that we can't be a part of great things that God wants to put in motion?

I know fear and doubt often creep in when we start to question those things or when we shut ourselves down. I'm definitely guilty of it. I often question what I feel God calling me to and refrain from dreaming big. But seriously, we serve the Creator of the universe and NOTHING is too big for Him. I think apathy and complacency are also culprits when it comes to our lack of dreaming big with God and then acting. It makes my heart hurt. God gave us the gifts, resources, and passions He did for a reason.

Lately, I've been blessed to interact with several Christians who are dreaming big. There is a pastor that I met during my time in India this summer and he is faithfully praying bold prayers for God to move and provide. He and his wife are operating two orphanages while raising their own daughters. This pastor opens up his 8x10 living space every Sunday to about 50 faithful believers who gather to worship every Sunday. This man faces persecution and receives little encouragement from his community. He recently emailed me and asked me to pray that God will provide land for him to build a church to minister to 5,000 people. That's dreaming big and praying boldly in faith.

I heard from another Indian missionary tonight who lives on a small island off the coast of Southern India. They recently completed their training center to raise up and disciple Christians. It's taken them 10 yrs to complete it and this building has been a dream for about 30 years. This man has also faced persecution, has watched previous meeting places get burned to the group, and has now built a Christian training center on an island that is considered the 2nd holiest site in for many Hindus. The journey has not been easy, but he has not given up and has been willing to follow God's promptings. You could see his passion and emotion as he spoke about what God is doing in India.

Their passion is almost contagious. It's moved me and made me realize that I want that same kind of passion when it comes to seeking God and living out my faith. It's stirring my heart and making me restless because it makes me so excited.


How often do we allow ourselves to dream BIG dreams and/or pray bold prayers in faith? What do you see when you allow yourself to dream big? Does it scare you? Does it make you pumped? Are you already doubting it could happen and talking yourself out of it?

God's ways are higher than ours and He may call us to things that we never imagined, but it is so worth it. It will require that we lean on Someone else for strength, guidance, provision, vision, and so much more.


Come awake Church, come awake.

God break our hearts for what breaks Yours and plant big dreams in our hearts.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Break My Heart for What Breaks Yours

So I'm really good at waiting months in between posts. I thought I was going to bed but my mind won't shut off, so I here I sit, in the dark in my room, haha. The biggest thing that's been taking up my brain waves lately has been India. I went on a short there earlier this month and there's so much I could say about what I experienced there. I'll break it into several posts so that I don't write a ginormous novel.

Going into the trip I worried that I might not connect with the place/people like I did with Uganda and wondered if I could feel as at home in another country. God quickly alleviated my fears and as I sat looking out window of our bus as we drove to our hotel. So much of it did remind me of Uganda- the landscape, red dirt, people sitting outside their homes and businesses, the welcoming and generous aspects of the people, the ability to simply be with one another, and the contrast of "progress" and "poverty." It seemed familiar to me and I was quickly reminded of the questions I dealt with during my semester in Uganda. Questions concerning poverty, wondering where the solutions begin, trying to seek God's answers and heart in it all, and the feeling of tension came back.

Throughout the week I worked at Comeback Childrens' Home in Bangalore. I had no idea what to expect as we pulled up to the home on our first day. This children's home is right smack dab in the middle of the hustle and bustle of the slums of Bangalore and one could easily walk past it not knowing what the small home was used for. I'll never forget walking into the building on the first day and seeing 8 sets of eyes looking up at me. The next few days with them were filled with games, songs, Bible lessons, memory verses, crafts, snacks, taking pictures, and trying to love on them as much as I could. It sure kept me on my feet and I remember praying at night, "Lord, fill me up so that you can pour me out. Let them see Your love." And He answered that prayer every day. He is so faithful.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Keep On Keepin' On

So, I've been meaning to update this blog for awhile now. There's a lot running through my mind and since I stink at journaling, so I'll get in down here (especially since my pen can't keep up with my thoughts).

Another semester is under my belt and I sit here in disbelief (a common occurrence nowadays). This semester has been challenging, confusing, and great. Something that thought about a lot this semester is the idea of home. At this stage in my life, I don't know where "home" is. Ok, so I know Heaven is home, but I'm not there yet, haha. I've had a feeling of homelessness, so to speak, and although it's been confusing, it's not a bad feeling. It just is. Is Greenwood home? What about Uganda or Bethel College? It's been a good reminder of what Jesus talks about in Matthew 8. In this life, He may call me to all kinds of places and all kinds of communities and while I may not have a sense of "home," that's ok.

Thinking about all this over the semester also brought thoughts about community. Not gonna lie, during the first 10 or so minutes I was driving away from Bethel for the summer, I cried. It was that "leaving summer camp feeling" or "time to go home from a sleepover" feeling I used to get in middle school...if that makes any sense. Over the past year my community has changed almost every 3-4 months. Last school year I was building stronger relationships with friends at school, then summer came and I came back to friends and family in Greenwood, then I headed to Uganda for 4 months to an entire new community of people both North American and Ugandan, then I came back to the Bethel community but time passed and things changed after not being on campus for 8 months, and now I'm back in Greenwood again. It's like I start to get settled then things are shaken up again. I have people I love all over the world, which is awesome. Dealing with change is not a strength of mine, which is funny to me, considering where I sense God leading me in life. When I am weak, He is strong. God is showing me every step of the way how faithful He is. He's always constant and the changes I experience are not things to fear.

I'm still discovering how I've been growing and changing in the last year. Coming back to school in the U.S. this semester, I knew I was different. I could pin-point a few things that had changed right off the bat, but there was still that sense of not being able to fully put my finger on all of them. They are showing up little by little and the light bulb in my head goes off. Some of the changes I've realized seem crazy to me as I think back to who I was a year ago. The way I look at things, some things I held as important, things that once brought me comfort, and certain understandings have changed. It may not seem like a big deal, but it amazes me.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Time Flies On

Wow. It's been two months, I didn't realize that much time had past since I last wrote on this blog. It's hard for me to keep track of time these days, seriously. I cannot believe I've been home from Uganda for a little more than 3 months now. Really? I still think about Uganda at least once a day. I think about the my family, the kids in my town that followed me home after school almost everyday, about my rural home stay family, the beauty of the simple things, sitting on the veranda watching the sun set and the stars come out, going on little excursions with Denise on the weekends we were home, IMME trips, my classes, the community I lived in and experienced. I'm trying not to romanticize the time I spent there, because it was definitely hard at times and I was pushed in many new ways, but I honestly loved it. You may be reading this and thinking, "Gosh, Kristen it's been 3 months, move on already." But those 4 months changed me, maybe not in huge ways, but it's ingrained in me. I'm different.

I'm learning to live in the present. I used to be the type of person that counted down until the next "big thing" came whether it be the weekend or a break. I also used to try to cling to past and would miss out on life here and now as I wished my time away. I don't think that way anymore and it's freeing. I look at life differently and my priorities have changed. Sure that shift has made focusing on school hard at times, but I'm here for a reason.

I still don't know where God is leading me in the future, but I have peace I'm in the right place right now and I have peace about the future. I could worry about it and have been scared that God is calling me to do things I would deem terrifying and uncomfortable, but I'm reminded of the one I serve. I think many of us have been guilty of thinking that God will only call us into safe situations and that He'll give us all the desires of our heart. In reality, God may call us into situations we would want to run from and some of the desires we have may not match up with the awesome plan He has. God is so good. His timing is perfect.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

My Heart Goes Out

The devastation that has ravaged Haiti is HUGE. Since the initial earthquake, there have been at least 40 aftershocks and there could be more to come. I can't even begin to imagine what going through that would be like. I've read stories, watched video clips, and have looked through so many pictures. My heart hurts. Part of me wants to be like, "Forget school, let's go help!" I'm thankful for all the rescue teams and missionaries that are sticking through it to help those facing devastating, life changing loss. Children are orphaned. Families have been shattered. Homes and businesses lost. Food and water are scarce. Violence and looting have been the cry of desperation.

I keep trying to comprehend what's really happened and what's currently going on. I've been encouraged and challenged by the stories I've heard. Instead of forsaking and turning their backs on God, many Haitians are putting their trust in Him and they continue to praise Him. God has been, is, and will be faithful. Some wonder how a loving God could let this happen. While God may have permitted this to happen, I do know that each and every life lost and affected matters to Him. Each one. He can bring good from the darkest of situations. Think about your own life. Can you think back on some of the hardest times you've gone through and see how God has used them? Those things shape you and God can use them. Have there been people you've been able to help/encourage because of what you've experienced? God can use any situation.




Deep inside I want to be in Haiti to walk beside someone who is hurting or to hold a scared child. But tonight I sit in the library...not motivated to do homework. But I can pray- pray for those who are hurting, those who are facing tragic loss, weary volunteers, and for strength for all to carry on. It's also a time to remember those who are hurting, lonely, and those who are facing battles in their own lives that we encounter every day.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MM-6rm1t9vY

"...the times you're hurting, the times that you heal, the times you go hungry and are tempted to steal, in times of confusion and chaos and pain. He's there in your sorrow...He's there through your heartache, He' there in the storm, His love will keep you by His power alone."

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Looking Back

Just a few of my videos from my time in Uganda and Rwanda:

video

This was during our ride to be dropped off at our homestays.

video

My first big rain storm in Mukono. This one scared me, but I grew to love them.


video
During our time in Rwanda, we went to some local churches. Betty was our translator. She's such a beautiful, joyful person. This is Betty singing Amazing Grace in the van after church.



video

Karen (my cousin) and her friends Faith and Keith dancing. This was during my rural home stay in Kapchorwa.

video
I visited my mom's primary school one day. Her class sang to me :)

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Lately

So it's been a couple weeks since I've posted and I went from being home on break back to college life. It all feels surreal and sometimes Uganda seems like a dream. It's been a weird stage to be in. I love being with my family and friends at home but at the same time I deeply miss my family and friends in Uganda. Too bad life isn't more like Startrek and we could be instantly transported to other places. "Beam me up, Jesus!" Ok so it doens't work that way....haha.

Coming back to school has been a roller coaster of emotions. It's awesome to get reconnected with my friends that I missed so much while I was gone. But it's also strange to step back into a life I haven't experienced in 8 months. Classes started today and I found myself feeling so distant and missing Uganda. I'm trying my best to be present and to stay tuned in with the here and now. I shouldn't live in the past b/c I'll miss what's right in front of me, but I need to learn how to incorporate all I learned and experienced in Uganda into the person I am now.

A word that we heard a lot in the beginning and end of our program was tension. That word has continued to pop in situations I find myself in, thoughts I have, and in questions I'm trying to find answers to. Tension isn't always a bad thing and it's usually present in times of change.

Tension.

Being tempted to slide back into my old ways and knowing the person God is calling me to be.

Tension.

Seeing and experiencing issues that seem hopeless and wondering what my role is.

Tension.

Coming home to wonderful friends and family, yet missing those I grew to love in Uganda.

Tension.

Seeking God's heart for His direction and knowing that those answers usually aren't instant.

Tension.

Wanting so badly to hold onto all I saw and those I met in Uganda, yet it's starting to feel like a dream.

Tension.

HIV/AIDS. Poverty. Starvation and Malnutrition. Watching a man who was dying in a hospital. Orphans. Corruption. Learning about those issues and putting real faces to them and also realizing there are people facing the same issues back home.

Tension.

Trying to figure out what is the best way to help and yet wondering if our methods are hurting those we seek to aid.

Tension.

Trying to apply presence, community, hospitality, real compassion, and a slower pace of life in a place where things tend to be much of the opposite.

Tension.

Getting to see God's heart and knowing He was in and working in all those situations before I knew of them. Knowing He has a plan, for good.

Hope.