Friday, October 24, 2014

// reflections of the almost 20 year old \\

It's the annual, sober reflection post, where I wax eloquent on the amazing Jesus-filled-ness of the previous year, and talk about my dreams for the future, or desires for the next year. And every year, I look back at the previous year and think, "Eeeesh, that was sentimental..." but then I'm so thankful I wrote it, 'cause it's quite amazing to see how God answers prayers and goes above and beyond.

Last year, I was home, helping teach my two youngest siblings, packing up our farm to move (*sob*), and had just hosted a His Little Feet concert. And I had no idea what I was going to do next. And just one short year later, I'm living in Colorado, on staff with said ministry, "Auntie" to five incredible youngsters, with Lord willing ten more on the way.

I'm blessed beyond belief, on the adventure of a life time, and in a spiritual battle that leaves me ready to rest each night, and excited to start each new day and see the power of my God made manifest in my life, and the lives of the children and the people around me.

I'll be twenty years old tomorrow, and I don't know if I have twenty more years to live, or twenty days, or twenty hours, but I'm here on earth for a reason, and every minute counts. I want to be spent completely - physically, emotionally, spiritually - for this world, just like Jesus was, and go out with flying colors.

I know it's weird to think about dying when it's your birthday...but it's not really dying I'm thinking about. The only reason I'm here and not with Jesus right now is because I'm bearing His image to a lost world, and He has a mission for me. That's my life purpose. I'm not looking for my purpose, I have it. I'm not looking for a mission, I'm living it. Right now, that means I'm Mama to five-going-on-fifteen, but it won't always be that. I'm just living the life Jesus has for me, and loving it to pieces.

 It doesn't matter to me how long it lasts, how much time I have, or even whether "my" desires get fulfilled on earth. I'd love to get married, have my own children, manage my own home, and Jesus knows that, but He also knows that wherever HE IS is home for me...so I'm 100% at peace with being twenty and my life looking like *nothing* I ever thought about when I was thirteen.

I don't know - as I'm always saying, "We have the best life!" Why would I want to live any way else? More "security", more "clarity", more "stability"? Who is more stable than the Rock of my Salvation? If trusting Him means I don't know what I'm doing tomorrow for the rest of my life, then bring it on!

*grin*

....

Okay, that was my reflection. Now I'm about to get real sentimental, because sometimes I do that, and apparently it's something people notice about me (which is a funny thought)...a

....

I know it's my birthday tomorrow, and that's usually when other people say stuff about me, so I'm hijacking today to say just how ridiculously thankful I am for some really special people. And I'm going to be specific, since they're that awesome. And, yes, you guessed it...it's my team. I'm spending my 21st year with some incredible folks, and that's the best birthday present ever.


Belay...Honestly, when I realized I was going to be working with you, I had a bit of a star-struck moment...I mean...you're THE *Uncle Ben*.....but it's been incredible, even in just the past three weeks. Your life is such a testimony, and the way you pour yourself out, giving back what Jesus has given to you, is powerful to see. You keep us laughing (often with tears streaming down our cheeks and our abs aching as if we've been working out) on a daily basis, and yet you also are constantly reminding us of the battle we're in for the kids, and you are always pointing us back to Christ. I appreciate you so much...this is going to be an amazing year.



Katie...when did I ever *not* know you? Has it really only been since August that we met? Crazy. I love your sweet spirit, your contagious and hilarious and frequent laugh, your artsy-ness, your tenderness with children, and your pure and precious heart for your King. I love that you're on our team this year - what an adventure it's already been to get us to this point, and what a road ahead! Your hugs, your love, your passion are so dear to me - the way you share your family with us, and the example y'all are to us of unity as a family is a blessing...I love you, girly.


Courtney...oh, my girl! What a privilege it is to work with you! I love your heart, your confidence in the power of your Savior, your joy, and your complete utter love for your Beloved Jesus. I love your mother's heart for our children, and your desire to see them know their Heavenly Daddy. Oh, Court...we've laughed so much in the past few months, cried too, and grown each other....girl, it is a *privilege* to walk this road with you. I love your laugh, the way you cock your head on one side and say, "Guys..." when you have something to say, and your love of the color yellow. I love you.



David...haha! I don't even know what to say...What do rubber bands, bouncy balls, dish towels, water, Veggie Tales, leaves, Bob Marley, and pillows have in common? *cough* Never mind. You just keep my life interesting - and that's totally
okay. But it's not just the fun we have together, or your laugh, or your incessant teasing that I'm thankful for...it's your heart for others, and the way you go out of your way to check on the folks you love, and be there for them when they need you. Tender-heartedness is a strength - and if that's the case, then you've got some serious muscles, bro. You're a ten.



Josh...not sure how to start this...maybe "Thank You" would be enough. Your passion for Truth, and for sharing it, and the way you demonstrate what a life led by the Spirit looks like is a powerful testimony. You bring such strength to our team. And there's all the little things that keep me chuckling - like your facial expressions, your airport voice you use when you're doing "take off" with the boys, your ridiculous organizing/home decorating skills, and even the way you walk...but really, it's the Jesus I see in you that I appreciate the most. Thank you, Josh.



*sniffles*

Golly, I love them.

*sniffles*

*recovers*

....

Wait, a sec. My birthday is tomorrow! MY BIRTHDAY! It feels like it's been a while since my last one...maybe a year? YAY! I love birthdays. Especially mine. ;)

Folks, I'll be twenty tomorrow....
...and it's going to be the best year yet!

Saturday, October 4, 2014

friday in the mountains

Yesterday, we had an adventure. Well, several. But all in one.

Josh and Courtney, troopers that they are, agreed to head up to Estes Park with me to meet one of my blogging friends - Susannah - and her husband Peter. 

Note: I'd never met them before, and we've been "friends" for almost five years. Josh is still trying to process how he feels about this, whether blogging friends are real people are not. Working on that...



Anyway.

The weather was PERFECT, and the drive was lovely, and Estes was, well, Estes. 


We had lunch with Susannah and Peter at Bob and Tony's pizza, then they had to head back to Denver. But since we never really get up to Estes Park, Josh, Court and I figured we'd make a day of it and find something to do.

The three of us started walking around Estes Park, enjoying the weather and just looking around. Pretty shortly, we found a candy shop. And stopped. For a while.



understandably.


Courtney bought 1/2 pound of assorted candy for her little candy horde. *grin* Josh and I bought 1/2 pound of chocolate in various forms - like giant malt balls that looked like Miracle Pills, and dark chocolate espresso beans, and chocolate covered peanuts - all of which we consumed in less than fifteen minutes. As Josh said, "Why not?"

We found an Indian teepee, and a Statue of Enos A. Mills with a Dog, a schnauzer with a funny haircut, lots of random older folks with dogs actually, a cage where wolves are going to be this weekend for some kind of festival, the street where Cafe Collage used to be *sniffle*, a Statue of Children Picking or Throwing Some Kind of Green Apple, license plates from all over the country, and a place called "Lonigan's" which made me think of The Sting.

Then we drove a little ways, and went exploring.





Once we got behind the lake, a whole new world opened up. And with no sound but the wind and a few birds, we just sat on the cliff and looked out over the valley towards the mountains. 






Oh, Courtney. I love her bouncy, rock-climbing self *hugs*


Majesty. Some day in heaven, we'll see Jesus, and see so clearly how the mountains reflect Him. His creation truly cries holy!



Josh wanted to go down into the valley, so we half-hiked, half-slid down the sandy, rocky slope into a stand of aspen trees. The view of the leaves and the mountains, and the complete stillness of the valley was an incredible combination. Pictures cannot, will not, do it justice. We'll just have to hold that beauty in our hearts - never to be accurately depicted on film.








We took a different way back, ended up on the exact opposite side of the lake, and just took the "normal" trail back to the parking lot.





I love spending time with these two. Fact.



We got home after dark, heated up leftovers and warmed up our cold selves with coffee in our "living room." It was such a lovely day - wonderful to just slow down a little and get away and see the glory of creation in a very real, all-encompassing way.
"Your steadfast love, O Lord, extends to the heavens, your faithfulness to the clouds. Your righteousness is like the mountains of God; your judgments are like the great deep; man and beast you save, O Lord. How precious is your steadfast love, O God! The children of mankind take refuge in the shadow of your wings. They feast on the abundance of your house, and you give them drink from the river of your delights. For with you is the fountain of life; in your light do we see light."
- Psalm 36:5-9

Monday, September 29, 2014

the power of the RESTORED.


My Abba is a God of Restoration. That's His specialty. He *loves* to do it. He delights to take broken people and make them whole. In fact, that's why He came to earth in the first place. He created us to be intimate with Him, and we messed that up, but He loved us so much (because, get this: HE. IS. LOVE.) that He gave up His own precious Son so that He could bring us back to Him.

That's beautiful, beautiful restoration.

I went from being a miserable sinner, caught in a pattern of defeat and hopelessness, to being a precious and beloved Daughter of my Daddy, with a new identity, a new life, a new heart, and a new mind. He gave me a clean slate, wiped it all, and sealed my adoption papers with the blood of my Beloved Jesus.

That's beautiful, beautiful restoration.

BUT.

He doesn't stop there. The life of Jesus becomes my life, because His Life comes to live inside me - and that's the Holy Spirit. He's pretty awesome, because He's everything. I'm just a vessel for Him to fill and use. And with this new Life bubbling up inside of me, that Restoring Nature that is such a beautiful attribute of my Abba becomes mine.

Which means relationships on earth get restored too.

Yup.

Wow.

And that's a beautiful, beautiful thing. Over the past few months, as this particular aspect of walking by the Spirit has taken root in my soul, I've wept tears of joy over how precious it is to see the unity of heaven come down to earth by the Spirit in the lives of the saints. Grudges, misunderstandings, pain, hurts, and grief melt away when I see exactly who I am in Jesus - and even though others might not fully understand, I'm free to love them, serve them, pour out my life for them without reluctance or bitterness. I may never get an apology, never get that kind of expected or "typical" reconciliation, but the peace in my soul is above and beyond the natural. It doesn't really matter anymore, 'cause it isn't about me, and I'm free to love like Jesus did - unconditionally.

The Restoration I received at the Cross gets to be translated into my daily life here on earth. 

Wow.

That's a beautiful, beautiful thing.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

{of Abba and buses and subway and love}


Everyday I'm in awe of what Jesus is doing. I've never felt more alive than I have the past few months, knowing the absolute solidity of my adoption as a daughter of the King and the love that my Abba Daddy has for me, and His grace in letting me help Him in His kingdom work - bringing heaven down. He's done so much for me...refreshing my spirit, empowering me to live this life, and revealing Himself in everything. Right now, just like pretty much every day since I arrived out here a month ago (has it been that long already!?), I'm just so thankful and beyond blessed by these four amazing teammates I've been given. Lord willing, I'll always feel this way about these wonderful brothers and sisters of mine *grin*


This past Saturday, we spent about five hours washing, waxing, and detailing the bus. I LOVE washing cars, but I'd never waxed before, so that was fun. We were in a huge empty semi-truck bay with some real-deal power washers and all kinds of fun ladders and brushes around. The wax smelled really good too...kind of like a pool deck...but not. I don't know. I liked it. My arms were a little sore after we buffed it, though...definitely not my usual set of muscles. *wry grin*

It was real team work, and a group effort to get the Barnabus and trailer ready for another tour. We worked straight through lunch, then went out to Subway before driving the bus home. I don't know about you and your circle of friends, but going out to fast food with these four honestly is a hilarious adventure *every single time*....and we've done it a few times in the past four weeks. *chuckle*



It's crazy...this love Jesus has given me. It's not from me, it flows *through* me. Compared to the way I loved people even just this past spring, I feel like the Grinch - you know, when his heart grows three sizes and pops the little gauge-thingy? That's how I feel. My heart is swelling, expanding, and my capacity to love is growing in leaps and bounds. There's room now to love those who are hard to love, and a strength to love the people and children who come into my life for short periods of time then have to leave, and an ability to truly, unselfishly love those who I already loved in the deep places of my soul, and the burning burden of carrying Abba's heart and love for the world. 

Truly, the Gospel is love. And I'm seeing that more clearly everyday - revealed in the words of Scripture, beautifully reflected in the eyes of the precious folks around me, and experienced as the Spirit walks me through each day.

"A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” - John 13:35

Monday, September 15, 2014

{pizza night}

The four of us on-campus staff cook/throw together all of our own meals every day. We're actually saving quite a bit of money, and having fun with it as we go. But it is nice to get and do something different than salad and sandwiches every now and again. *grin* 

Our dear teammate Katie, who happens to live right here with her parents and siblings, invited us over one night last week to make pizza and finish up some videos we needed to watch for training, and of course we couldn't say no! So we spent a fun evening over at her house making supper and fellowshipping. A taste of home!









When you're away from home, even little things, like making pizza together, mean so much more. So thankful that I'm making such fun new memories with my Second Family! God is so good to give us little gifts like that, just to make us smile, because He loves us!
 

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fishies

Please take a moment and feed my dear little fishies :) Just click on the water to feed 'em! Names:
The yellow fish is Buttercup, the green one is Rush, the pink one is Elizabeth, and the purple one is Zachary Moon

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