"I will praise you, O Lord my God, with all my heart; I will glorify your name forever." Psalm 86:12

Monday, August 30, 2010


I leave to come home tomorrow...

:) :) :) :) :) :)

That's all I have to say :)

Sunday, August 29, 2010

What I Can See Now

Wow, it's so crazy, I only have 2 days left! There's a part of me that feels like I have been here for an eternity... And then the other part of me can't believe my two months is almost up!

I spent some time yesterday thinking back on these past two months and how much of a roller coaster it's been. I've hit some extreme highs and some devastating lows. I read back through my prayer journal and was reminded of all the different things I've been through, and how God has been so faithful to pull me through it all. There's no way I could have made it without Him.

I know God has a glorious purpose for why He brought me here to Niger, and I don't think I fully see it yet. But I decided to write down the things I am able to see already...

1. Opened doors for me to minister to people back home. And He opened these doors in ways I never would have expected.

2. I've seen the body of Christ come together for me. Never have I had so many people praying for me and asking how I'm doing. People I don't even know have sent me such encouraging words. (Something I was praying before I came here was that I longed to see the body of Christ function the way God originally intended it to, and I think He has been answering that prayer since being here.)

3. He used me to write 27 Bible studies. A huge task that I never could have accomplished without Him. I can only pray they will be used to minister to those young girls. I pray that He would use them far beyond what I can see.

4. He has blessed me through the beautiful children and their smiles and laughter - even though I had little time with them, I'm so thankful for those moments.

5. He pulled me out of my lowest times. He was faithful in my times of most desperate need.

6. He has taught me to be so thankful for the people in my life that I love so much. I've realized how much I have taken them for granted.

7. I see the importance of offering encouragement and showing appreciation for others.

I'm sure this list will continue to grow, but this is what I can see so far.

I leave to come home in two days, and I'm so incredibly excited about what the Lord has in store for me upon my return!! See you all very, very soon!

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

The Secret of Being Content

So far I have completed 19 Bible studies! Praise the Lord! It really is only by His strength that I am continuing to muster out topics and studies and Bible verses to complete this task of completing 27. And my goal for today is 20, so I'm almost there :)

Anyway, just thought I would give you all a sneak peek at one of the studies... It spoke to me as the Lord helped me write it, so go ahead, take yourself back to the 3rd or 6th grade, and see how the Lord speaks to you (although I think this lesson is for all ages!)


Opening Activity: Begin to tell the girls how you have the best recipe for chocolate chip cookies.

What if I told you that I knew how to make the best chocolate chip cookies in the whole wide world? I mean, these cookies... mmm... the chocolate just melts in your mouth. Oh, and right when you pull them out of the oven they're soooo warm and gooey. I'm telling you. There is nothing like these chocolate chip cookies.

Would you want the recipe for these cookies???

Okay, I can tell you the recipe. But there's one ingredient I can't tell you. Because it's my "secret ingredient." Your cookies probably won't be as good as mine, but I'll tell you the whole recipe except for that one secret ingredient.

That wasn't very nice now was it? To tell you that I knew how to make the best chocolate chip cookies in the world, and to tell you how delicious they are, and then to ask you if you wanted the recipe, and then to not give you that one secret ingredient!

It's a good thing Paul didn't do the same thing to us in the Bible when he tells us that he has finally learned the secret to being content!!!

What does it mean to be content? 1 Timothy 6:6 tells us, "But godliness with contentment is great gain."

But what does it mean to truly be content? And how can I truly be content?

Being content means to be in a state of peaceful happiness. To be completely satisfied with your circumstances and not wishing for more.

What are some areas in which you find it difficult to be content?

We learn from the Bible that the things on this earth aren't meant to make us content. Nothing in this world will ever fully satisfy our desires. That's why, especially in the States, you see so many unhappy people. Especially celebrities. You would think that they would be the happiest people in the world! They make so much money; they can buy themselves literally anything they could ever want. But these are the very people we see who are the most unhappy.

Why do you think this is?

Because when we have a lot of stuff, or when we finally get whatever it is we think will make us happy, we realize there is always something "better." We always want more.

Hebrews 13:5 "Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said, 'Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.' "

Look at that verse. It says to be content with what you have. Why? Because God is enough. He will never leave you. And he will never forsake you. This is how we know that the things on this earth aren't meant to satisfy us - because this verse just plainly told us that God will never leave us - and we can be content in that simple fact.

Now, being content isn't something that comes naturally. It is something we must learn.

It seems like when there is something you aren't content about, your mind seems to always think about that one thing. It consumes your thoughts every waking moment of the day. You go to sleep thinking about it. You wake up thinking about it. This thing becomes an idol in your mind and it steals your joy.

Just think, what is the opposite of being content?
Discontent - not satisfied with one's circumstances.

And when we aren't satisfied, we aren't happy. When we allow something on earth to steal our joy, it shows that we aren't putting our complete hope in the Lord. Because if we were putting our hope in the Lord, there would be nothing to steal our joy because our God is always consistent. He never changes! He never leaves us, and He never forsakes us!

Psalm 16:11 "You have made known to me the path of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand."

The things on this earth aren't meant to satisfy us. Whether that be toys, clothes, relationships, good grades, etc. Only God can truly satisfy us 100%.

And you know, there are those times when we think to ourselves, "There is no way I can be content in these circumstances! I failed a test. My dog ran away. My best friend lied to me. How can I possibly be content?"

Now, here comes the good part! Paul tells us the secret ingredient of being content:

Listen to what the apostle Paul tells us in Philippians. He tells us that he learned the secret of being content. The way he says that is almost the same as when someone tells you their recipe has a "secret ingredient." When someone has a secret, you instantly become super curious, don't you? With everything in you, you want to know what that secret is! Well... Paul tells us. This is a secret that he can't keep to himself! He has finally learned the secret to being content!

Philippians 4:11-13 "I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do everything through him who gives me strength."

What does Paul tell us the secret is to being content?
Realizing that I can do all things through Christ!

This is what we were just talking about. The verse says -
I can do ALL things THROUGH CHRIST...


Doesn't this sound like what we just talked about? That nothing on this earth is truly going to satisfy your desires. Only God can completely satisfy you. In Psalm 16:11 we learned that God will fill us with joy in His presence.

When we finally realize that nothing on this earth is meant to make us content, that is when we will discover for ourselves the secret to being content, like Paul did. Realizing that, "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me! Therefore, I will go to God, and I will trust Him to satisfy me. And I will wait for Him to fill me with joy in His presence. For only there will I be truly satisfied and content!"

APPLICATION: Think of an area in your life where you do not feel content. Choose this week to memorize the short verse, "I can do everything through him who gives me strength." Recite this verse in your head when you are feeling discontent and choose to allow God to satisfy you - because He is enough!

Praise God because He alone can completely satisfy you.
Ask Him to forgive you for the times when you have tried to let things on earth make you content.
Ask the Lord to help you look to Him to satisfy your desires.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

To Be Counted Worthy

Thank you all so much for the prayers you have sent up for me. I decided last night to go to bed super early (8pm) and get a good nght's rest. I woke up this morning still feeling a little defeated. But today is a new day. I stayed at the guest house rather than going to the school, and am going to work on Bible studies today! But first, I spent time with my sweet Jesus. Telling Him how I feel and asking for His help. I know a good attitude won't just magically appear. I can't ask God to simply give me a good attitude. Having a good attitude is a choice I have to willingly make.

As I was writing my prayer this morning, the "Desert Song" was playing on my iPod. "I will bring praise! I will bring praise! No weapon formed against me shall me remain... God is my victory and He is here!" So I have chosen to rejoice in this day. Here is what I wrote in my journal: (And please know I never write in my journal with the intention of making it public. My journal is a very private prayer journal between me and the Lord. I sometimes just feel led to completely open my heart and share it with the body of Christ - whether that is to ask for encouragement, or to be an encouragement)

Father, my God, my Savior, my Comforter, my Guide. I need you to come lift my head this morning. Today is a new day. A day where I don't have to laminate books. I get to work on the Bible studies and I might even get to go to the orphanage! Today is a new day. Today is a better day. Today is the day that you have made. I will choose to rejoice and be glad in it. I ask that you would use today for your glory. Use today to sanctify me. Help me to make the most of today. I have 12 days left in Africa. 12 more days of being in the desert. 12 days of just me and you. 12 days of less distractions. 12 days to make the most of. I will not sulk in these 12 days. I will choose to trust you.

Last night and this morning I found a lot of verses which speak of being counted worthy of the calling of Christ.

"As a prisoner of the Lord, then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received." Ephesians 4:1

"Whatever happens, conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ." Philippians 1:27

"And he died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for him who died for them and was raised again." 2 Corinthians 5:15

"We are therefore Christ's ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us." 2 Corinthians 5:20

And this is what it means to live a life worthy of the calling we have received:

"...we boast about your perseverance and faith in all the persecutions and trials you are enduring... and as a result you will be counted worthy of the kingdom of God, for which you are now suffering." 2 Thessalonians 1:4,5

And this is the exact prayer I would ask each of you to send up for the remainder of my time:

"... With this in mind, we constantly pray for you, that our God may count you worthy of his calling, and that by his power he may fulfill every good purpose of yours and every act prompted by your faith. We pray this so that the name of our Lord Jesus may be glorified in you, and you in him, according to the grace of our God and the Lord Jesus Christ." 2 Thessalonians 1:11-12

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Not Quite What I Dreamed Of

I'll be completely honest. I am fighting a terrible attitude today. And there's nothing I can do to get out of it. I've honestly never felt so let down. I'm finally "living my dream," and it's been so disappointing. Especially when I look at what these last two remaining weeks hold.

I was so excited about writing Bible studies for the 3rd to 6th grade girls. But now that has been put on the back burner so I can help out at the school. And I was supposed to be helping out in the 3rd and 4th grade room, but I've been summoned to work in the library.... laminating books.... for hours and hours..... and hours.

Let me explain why this is so disappointing. I have dreamed of coming to Africa for four years. Four years! Four years I've had these dreams of coming to Africa and loving on orphans and sharing the love of Christ with them simply by giving them attention and pouring my life into them. But here I sit, in a library, laminating books. Preserving material things that will one day be destroyed. I wouldn't mind laminating a few books in the states. But I'm in Africa. And only for 2 months. Finally living my dream. I was hoping to make the most of this short time. But I'm stuck in a library laminating books. All I can think is that people are dying and being sent to a Christless eternity, and I'm laminating books.

I think fighting off this bad attitude is so hard because I feel like my original intentions for coming to Africa were at least honorable. I wanted to come share the love of Christ with children and bring glory to my great God in this nation. I wanted to play a part in taking the gospel to the ends of the earth. I came here with such a willing and excited spirit to be used by the Lord in this place. But I only feel like my hopes and dreams have been crushed. Completely demolished.

I'm away from everyone I love, and I've been trying so hard not to count down the days until my departure from this place. But right now, 1 week and 6 days can't seem to go by fast enough. I hate feeling this way. I really and truly do want to make the most of the rest of my time. But it's a fight. A fight that I am losing right now. My heart is broken in this moment.

Please, please pray for the remainder of my time here
Please pray for my attitude.

I'm sorry about all my complaints. But I desperately need prayer.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

2 Weeks Left

Hello :)

I officially leave to come home 2 weeks from today!

For the remainder of my time here I will be helping out at the Christian school. It's an American school where the missionary kids go. Not sure what exactly I will be doing. I think mostly helping out in the 3rd/4th grade classroom. And waking up at 6 am... which I'm definitely not used to doing, haha.

I'm still writing Bible studies. 10 down. 17 to go.

I do wish I had more time with the nationals here. I am happy to finally feel needed and be helping out at the school. But it has been my dream to come here and help out an orphanage. So I'm honestly very sad that I am still living a completely American life... IN AFRICA. But, I know God knew exactly what I would be doing here.

I guess the good news is - my heart definitely isn't attached here and, honestly, it will be incredibly easy to leave this place. I am so excited to come home!!!! But having said that, I most definitely want to come back to Africa again. And have a completely different experience. An experience where I am submersed in the culture. Where I can actually live life with these people. That dream hasn't left my heart. I can't wait for it to come true someday. I do love this place. I love Africa. I love the people here. I love the children here. I look forward to coming back someday. Even if for just a short stay.

I ate dinner tonight with the lady I told you about in my last post. I definitely had plans of sharing the gospel with her if she didn't know the Lord already. Which, she already does! I asked her who Jesus is to her. And she told me he is her Friend, her Husband, he brings her comfort, etc. And I asked her, "But do you know Him as your Savior?" "OH yes! Yes! He is my Savior!" Our time together tonight was very pleasant, and I was very excited to find out that she loves our Jesus as well :)

So, for my last 2 weeks, here is what I ask you to pray for:
That I wouldn't wish this time away.
To enjoy and make the most of every single moment.
That I will be able to go visit the orphanage a few more times before I leave.
That I will have energy after school during the week to continue prayer walking.
To make the most of every opportunity.
For the Lord to continue sanctifying and refining me.
Ultimately, for the Lord to glorify His Name!

This is from when I went to the giraffe park recently!

Sweet girls at Vacation Bible School!

Precious little boy at the orphanage :)

Did I mention I think the children are beautiful here?!

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Writing Bible Studies :)

I am so thankful that I finally feel purpose here! I love this brilliant light that is again shining in my life! I have spent a few hours today writing Bible studies for 3rd to 6th grade girls. I finally feel as though the Lord is allowing me to do something in an area in which He has gifted me. And it's so neat to see how He has orchestrated it all and how He has prepared me in the past for this task.

As children's intern for the past two summers at church, one task I was assigned to my first summer was writing morning devotions, and my second summer I wrote a couple of large group Bible studies for the 3rd to 6th grade students.

Writing these Bible studies is something I am really enjoying doing. And just because it's for 3rd-6th grade students doesn't automatically make it an easy task! It's definitely stretching me! I have to dig in to my creative side to find a way to capture the kid's attention, and then I dig in to scripture to make a 30 minute study. I love it! And I will definitely be stretched by the time I finish writing 27 of them!! That's 13 and half hours of Bible study material, and each takes about an hour and a half to write, so I definitely have my hands full now! I'm so thankful for this opportunity!

Please pray that the Lord would give me wisdom on which topics He would have me to write. This has been the hardest part so far and I've only written three! So feel free to leave comments and throw out ideas on good Bible study topics for 3rd to 6th grade girls, especially if you have girls this age - what would you want them to learn in Bible study?

Thanks for you prayers!! See you all in 20 days :)

Tuesday, August 10, 2010


Ok, so today has ended up being a MUCH better day! When I finally realized I needed a major attitude change, the Lord turned the day into such a blessed, productive day. I am just beside myself!

So this morning, I read the daily "My Utmost for His Highest" devotional, and it really challenged me to seek to be more encouraging and to stop sulking and sympathizing in my current situation. I updated my blog this morning, and before posting it I shared the devotional and what I had written with Stacey. She also thought the devotional was incredible and also felt very convicted by it. We were both challenged to change our attitudes. And my oh my, what a difference today has been!

Stacey and I decided to take action rather than wait for someone to tell us what to do. We have become completely disenchanted with sitting at the guesthouse, sulking in our lack-of-things-to-do. So, we did something that neither of us have ever done before. We went prayer walking!!! And wow! One of the greatest things I've ever done! I honestly though it would be awkward - walking down streets and praying out loud. And since neither of us had ever done it before, we had no idea how exactly it was to be done. But... We just went for it.

We just started walking, picked a street that we had never been down, and we started praying. We prayed silently at first, but that didn't last long - maybe 2 minutes. My thoughts get distracted to easily. So then we began praying out loud. It was so neat! I've never prayed this way before. It was like carrying on a conversation, and it just came so naturally. We prayed as we walked past houses, and we prayed for the people who passed us on their bikes and motorcycles. I kept getting the chills and could sense the Holy Spirit's presence as we walked those streets. It was incredible!

As we were walking and as I was praying aloud at the moment, we began walking toward a group of children playing with a ball. I simply asked that the Lord would give us favor with these kids and that we could simply play with them and love on them. So we walked up to them, greeted these beautiful children with what little Zarma we actually know, and we just started playing with them!

I noticed one little boy was laying down on the ground a few yards away, so I walked over to him and asked him his name. A few other kids came to where we were, and they told me, "A sinda baani," - which means he wasn't feeling well. So I asked them where he was feeling sick, and they pointed to his head. I told them, "Iri go ga aduwa," - "We are going to pray." I touched his head, and Stacey and I began to pray for him (in English - we don't know THAT much Zarma!) And then we all went back and played - even the little boy who wasn't feeling well! It was the most fun I've had since being here. We simply threw and kicked the ball around. The kids were laughing and having so much fun!! I felt like I was on top of the world! THIS is why I'm here. These children are beautiful, and even though I can't speak their language, I CAN play with them. I CAN give them attention. And I CAN show them the love of Christ.

We didn't get to stay long because we had plans at 4:00, but we told the children we would be back tomorrow. Pretty sure we told them tomorrow at six - or at least that's what we tried to tell them in their language. On our way back to the guest house Stacey and I continued to pray. And as we were walking, a lady was passing on the other side of the road. We began to greet her in Zarma, but to our surprise, she spoke English!! So we stopped and talked with her for a couple minutes, and in those few minutes we found out she is from Gana and in Niger until August 27th. We exchanged phone numbers and plan to get dinner in the next couple of days. If that wasn't a divine encounter, I don't know what is. As we walked away, I immediately told Stacey, "We're going to share the gospel with her!" And as we continued to walk, we lifted her up in our prayers. I ask that you would also begin to pray for this woman and pray that the Lord would begin to open her heart to the gospel and that we will have favor to share with her.

Ah, today was a good day! Thank you for your prayers, and thank you for your encouragement! God is good!

Sympathizer to Encourager

I want to start by saying thank you from the bottom of my heart to all of those who have sent me encouragement and to those of you who have been keeping me in your prayers. I wish I could tell you that the darkness has lifted from my spirit, but the fight is still there. I honestly don't know how to explain what exactly I am going through, the thoughts and feelings that consume me day to day, but I can tell you that I am continuing to earnestly cling to the Lord, and I am waiting eagerly for light to come and shine in this place.

I keep getting slaps in the face that wake me up and remind me that I am not always to know what exactly God is doing, but that I am simply to trust Him. I am trying my hardest to put all my trust in Him, and I am seeking to live through this time with grace. So often do I want to give up. So often do I dream of getting on the airplane and coming home. But for the sake of Christ, I know there is no way I could do either of those things. And while I am living in this moment, all I can hope to do is glorify Him by not giving up. By not allowing this darkness to consume me. By keeping my head held high and trusting that God knows exactly what He is doing.

This morning, God brought me another one of these pleasant face slaps. He has a funny way of giving me exactly what I need at the exact moment I need it - it's like He really does know what He is doing. I usually just share a small part of what He's shown me, but today, to be able to fully explain my thoughts, I want to share the whole thing - it's not too long. Just the daily devotional from O. Chambers "My Utmost for His Highest" that I have shared so much from already.

"The Sacrament of the Saint

"So then, those who suffer according to God's will should commit themselves to their faithful Creator and continue to do good." 1 Peter 4:19

To choose to suffer means that there is something wrong; to choose God's will even if it means suffering is a very different thing. No healthy saint ever chooses suffering; he chooses God's will, as Jesus did, whether it means suffering or not. No saint dare interfere with the discipline of suffering in another saint.

The saint who satisfies the heart of Jesus will make other saints strong and mature for God. The people who do us good are never those who sympathize with us, they always hinder, because sympathy enervates. No one understands a saint but the saint who is nearest to the Saviour. If we accept the sympathy of a saint, the reflex feeling is - Well, God is dealing hardly with me. That is why jesus said self-pity was of the devil (see Matt. 16:23). Be merciful to God's reputation. It is easy to blacken God's character because God never answers back, He never vindicates Himself. Beware of the thought that Jesus needed sympathy in His earthly life; He refused sympathy from man because He knew far too wisely that no one on earth understood what He was after. He took sympathy from His Father only, and from the angels in heaven. (Cf. Luke 15:10.)

Notice God's unutterable waste of saints, according to the judgment of the world. God plants His saints in the most useless places. We say - God intends me to be here because I am so useful. Jesus never estimated His life along the line of the greatest use. God puts His saints where they will glorify Him, and we are no judge at all of where that is."

One thing I noticed just last night after I got done talking with my roommate Stacey (who is also going through very similar circumstances - so please keep her in your prayers as well), I realized something. And my realization was confirmed through this devotional today. I am so thankful Stacey is here. I am so thankful to have someone by my side who understands exactly what I am going through. We have even acknowledged to each other a sentence such as this, "It's different talking to you than it is talking to people back at home because you really understand what I'm going through. They just don't get it." And this is basically meant in the context of - Well, it's easy for them to say those things because they don't completely understand what I'm going through. But you know, I had the realization that the conversations Stacey and I have are so different because we are IN our circumstances and can't see past an inch in front of our faces. What really struck me from this devotional is the part where it says, "The people who do us good are never those who sympathize with us, they always hinder, because sympathy enervates." (Enervate - cause (someone) to feel drained of energy or vitality; weaken). Since Stacey and I are in the same circumstances, it is so easy for us to have sympathy with each other. Our conversations can tend to sound a lot like, "Woe is me." "I don't understand." "I don't get what is going on." Honestly though, it is helpful to know that there is someone going through this with me, but I am realizing now that our sympathy for each other is getting us nowhere. We are only running in circles. We are only causing each other to feel drained and weakened.

I am realizing now, it's time for a major attitude change. I want to change my role of "sympathizer" to "encourager." And this will cause me to dig even deeper than ever before. It's so easy to receive encouragement from all of you back home. And it's so easy to be here and to sympathize with myself and with Stacey. But if I want this darkness to lift, I must seek not only to be encouraged, but to BE an encourager as well. And that's so hard because, in the moment, sympathy feels so good. Sympathy is easy. Not only will I be seeking to encourage Stacey, but I will be seeking to encourage myself. It's much easier to encourage someone when you are outside the situation, but to encourage someone with whom you are in the situation with, you're not just seeking to encourage that other person, but to encourage yourself as well. And I don't even know how to do that. But it's my new mission!

This post is already long, but I have a little more...

The last paragraph of the devotional today really hit me. It couldn't have been more spot on to say to me what I need to hear. "God plants His saints in the most useless places." Uh, yes He does!!! I have never in my life felt so useless as I do now (as I voiced in my last post). But, "Got puts His saints where they will glorify Him, and we are no judges at all of where that is." I feel like I just got reprimanded when I read that sentence. "Yes Lord," is all I can say to that. "Yes Lord. Forgive me for doubting. Forgive me for thinking you sent me here because I thought I was so useful. Lord you sent me here to glorify your Name. That's what I've been praying. THAT has been my one desire. THAT is what you have reduced me to. And somehow I've overlooked it. I will seek to glorify You in the simplest form - to trust that You know what You are doing. To seek to become an encourager in this darkness in which I am surrounded. To seek what you would have me do in my abundance of free time here. Father, glorify your Name."

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Fighting Discouragement

Well I woke up this morning, and today I have been fighting intense discouragement. Discouragement about how my time is being used here and what my purpose is (still not any closer to really figuring this one out). I was feeling as though I have wasted so much time, and have been dealing with a lot of frustration about specifically how my time is spent here.

Before I came to Africa, I expected to come here and dive right into ministry. I expected to be living life with the people here and constantly showing them the love of Christ. But as I look back over these past five weeks, the percentage of my time between spending time with the nationals and the other missionaries or at the guest house has been more than disappointing. I only get to spend 2 to 3 hours a day maximum with the nationals, and the rest of my time is spent with the other missionaries, eating meals, or just spending time at the guest house. It's like I'm living an American life in the middle of Africa. And I can't help but have this thought eat away at my mind saying, "Jordan, what are you doing? You're wasting so much time!!! How is God really using you? What impact are you having on these people?" I'm telling you, I really can't put into words how discouraging these thoughts have been. Especially when I've had this desire to come to Africa for 4 years now - this is completely not what I expected.

I've reached the end of myself. My spirit is broken. Today, I have reached the lowest point of discouragement. I feel so trapped. I don't have any freedom really to just go out and do ministry for a few reasons: (1) I can't speak the language. (2) I depend on my supervisors to drive me places. (3) I can't take taxis anymore because of certain circumstances. I feel so helpless.

My prayers have been reduced to the simplest form because I just don't know what to pray anymore. "Father, glorify your name and sanctify me during my time here. Refine me through your fire and do whatever it takes to bring glory to yourself." I feel that through that simple request that surely good will come of these two months.

I also pray that He uses this blog to be a ministry to all of you back home. I don't really have a ministry here, so I feel this blog may be a way the Lord will use me. I feel like I am experiencing a form of suffering during my time here - which I know that to be a disciple of Christ he calls us to a life of suffering - he calls us to take up our cross daily and to follow Him - and the road of the cross is a road full of suffering. So I pray that through my difficulties here that you all will be encouraged in your faith. I pray that you will be challenged to follow Christ more fervently and to take steps that will stretch your faith in Him. If I came here simply to reach people back home, then my time here will be worth it. Or if I came here simply for the Lord to refine me (and not necessarily to reach anyone else) and to reach me, then I will accept that as well.

I did find some encouragement in 2 Corinthians today. A few different verses really spoke to me. So I'll share them with you:

"But thanks be to God, who always leads us in triumphal procession in Christ and through us spreads everywhere the fragrance of the knowledge of him." 2 Corinthians 2:14

From this verse, I simply pray that the Lord would use me to spread a fragrance of the knowledge of Him. Even though I can't speak the language here, I would be delighted if people could sense even the slightest fragrance of our Savior through my being here.

"Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal." 2 Corinthians 4:16-18

I am encouraged by these verses, and I simply pray that the Lord would renew me and renew my strength day by day, moment by moment, because I can't make it through here without Him. I am also so encouraged by the part that says, "we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen." Clearly, I have nothing here to fix my eyes on that can be seen - no personal ministry, no relationships. I can only fix my eyes on my Father and trust that He knows what He is doing.

And here, I am so encouraged by, and so desire this joy that Paul speaks of:

"Rather, as servants of God we commend ourselves in every way: in great endurance; in troubles, in hardships and distresses; in beatings, imprisonments and riots; in hard work, sleepless nights and hunger; in purity, understanding, patience and kindness; in the Holy Spirit and in sincere love; in truthful speech and in the power of God; with weapons of righteousness in the right hand and in the left; through glory and dishonor, bad report and good report; genuine, yet regarded as impostors; known, yet regarded as unknown; dying, and yet we live on; beaten, and yet no killed; sorrowful, yet always rejoicing; poor, yet making many rich; having nothing, and yet possessing everything.
I am greatly encouraged; in all our troubles my joy knows no bound." 2 Corinthians 6:4-10, 7:4

Oh Lord, let my joy know no bounds!! Even in my troubles! My troubles don't even compare to what Paul went through, yet his joy knew no bounds. I want that joy. A joy that can't be shaken by anything in this world. A joy that says, "I am hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed." (2 Corinthians 4:8).

I ask that you would please pray that God would continue to encourage my heart through His word and through His Spirit. I ask that if you feel led to, please send me encouragement as well. Paul speaks of how God comforted him by sending Titus. He said, "But God, who comforts the downcast, comforted us by the coming of Titus, and not only by his coming but also by the comfort you had given him. He told us about your longing for me, your deep sorrow, your ardent concern for me, so that my joy was greater than ever." (2 Corinthians 7:6-7). To be a part of the body of Christ is such a blessing because we have the opportunity to encourage and to be encouraged by one another. I come to you now as your sister, and I simply ask as one in need, I seek your encouragement and your prayers.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Psalm 63

I am really missing home this day. Missing the fellowship and encouragement of my closest friends and family. I knew this day would come. I knew before I ever stepped on that airplane to come here that I would experience this loneliness. I looked forward to being lonely because I knew it would make me depend on my Lord. So, even in this sadness, in this loneliness, I rejoice. As difficult as it is, I know my Jesus is drawing me closer to Him.

I can't put into words how much I miss hugging the people I love. Something so simple as a hug is something I have realized I take so much for granted. But in a hug, so many things are said. And without hugs from the ones you love, you realize the importance of the words that are said through them. I texted my mom yesterday and told her that I can't begin to explain how much I look forward to the moment when I step off the airplane and get to hug her and Tony. Those two hugs will mean more to me than words could ever express. So something I ask of each of you this day - don't take for granted being surrounded by the people you love, and cherish something as simple as a hug.

So enough of my hug soapbox... I want to share what this time of loneliness has led me to. It really has led me to complete dependence on my God. I've never had to seek the Lord as my friend. In the past, I have sought Him as my Comforter, my Healer, my Strength, my Joy, and my Peace - and He has proven faithful in becoming those things to me. And now, I am trusting that He will reveal Himself as my Friend. As a friend who sticks closer than a brother as it says in Proverbs 18:24. And in seeking Him as my friend, I have chosen to memorize the first eight verses of Psalm 63.

"Oh God, you are my God,
earnestly I seek you;
my soul thirsts for you,
my body longs for you,
in a dry and weary land
where there is no water.

I have seen you in the sanctuary
and beheld your power and your glory.
Because your love is better than life,
my lips will glorify you.
I will praise you as long as I live,
and in your name I will lift up my hands.
My soul will be satisfied as with the richest of foods;
with singling lips my mouth will praise you.

On my bed I remember you;
I think of you through the watches of the night.
Because you are my help,
I sing in the shadow of your wings.
My soul clings to you;
your right hand upholds me."

I find so much comfort in this Psalm because of the promise it reveals. In verse 1 we declare, "...earnestly I seek you..." And then in verse 5 - "My soul will be satisfied..." Because of this clear promise, I can rest assured that Jesus will be my friend. I am seeking Him earnestly as that. Not only will my soul be satisfied, but satisfied as with the richest of foods. I think about those Sundays when Tony grills the best steaks, and my mom cooks cheesy ranch potatoes and fried okra and rolls - how my stomach is so full, so satisfied that it actually hurts. That is the satisfaction I am promised and eagerly awaiting. To have such a close friend in Jesus that I might actually get annoyed with Him and His closeness. Of course I'm joking. But really, to know Jesus as my closest friend would be so beautiful. And that is what I am praying for.

And here, I come to you again, asking you to join me in this prayer. That Jesus would satisfy my lonely state. That I would experience Him in a new way and that He would wrap me in His arms and let me experience the joy, the comfort, and the encouragement of His hugs.

Thank you so much for your prayers and know that my love pours out to you all even from so far away.