Sunday, June 29, 2014

Fragile, Noble.

"Look Daddy, I'm strong" says the little 6 year old boy, flexing his 'muscles' for his Father to see and acknowledge. "Oh, yes, son. You're very strong." The father says, knowing full well that the boy would be helpless as a worm against a bird should he ever get into a tangle with a bully.
The boy continues, "and when I turn 7 next week, I'm going to be even bigger and stronger!"
The father imitates a bobble head to perfection as he pretends to believe whole-heartedly what his son claims to be true. All the while having a wider and more realistic grasp on reality, knowing that the boy would grow stronger as he grew older, but certainly would not change within the next week.

"Look Daddy, I'm strong" 
How many times have I tried to convince my Heavenly Father that I'm invincible.
How many times have I tried to fool my friends and family into believing that I'm a tough little, brave little, strong little non-giver-upper.
How many times have I thought to myself "this is no big deal. I can handle this."
How many times have I been deceived into thinking that I had the strength in myself to face the big, nasty world.

Guess what? God has always known how helpless and fragile I am.
I've never been able to convince him that I'm perfectly capable, thank you.
Because He's God. I believe he created me with specific weaknesses so that he could be my strength.
And He says it all over the place in the Bible and in my life, but did I get it?
Not too often. I didn't want to admit that I'm... I'm...Weak.
That I need help. That I can't breathe unless God permits it.
Because I have this issue that makes me want to be great, and it will do whatever it takes to avoid being hurt by anything, or worse, be looked down upon by someone who has their act more together than I. 

Basically, I've been about as eager to be vulnerable as a mule is to carry a wide load up a mountain. 
(Thanks for appreciating that analogy) 

The issue with being 'strong' is that you never grow that way.
The other day God and I had a chat, a good chat.
 I can just imagine Him saying to the angels, "watch. It's about time Chelsea gets the 'vulnerability' talk." 
--I really love my Heavenly Father because He does this stuff.
He always teaches me things at just the perfect time. (Imagine that)
And with such intention.--

So we had the talk.
It turns out that if you're unwilling to get into a place where you could be broken into tiny little pathetic pieces, you're not allowing yourself to be prime molding material for your Maker.
What's the point of asking God to renew your heart and mind if you're not going to be vulnerable enough to be humbled, which is when you actually are in the perfect place to be formed into something new!?

So I asked God to humble me. Yes, I did.
Have you ever prayed that prayer? Scary, I know.
But necessary.
Sure enough! I had a pretty awful week with lots of opportunity to be humbled.
Praise God.
I would rather endure much hardship and humiliation than be forever stoic and unmoving.
What good is a pretty statue of you to God?
He wants the real you with all your flaws and issues.
He wants you to know the freedom that comes in vulnerability,

He doesn't let us struggle for the sake of struggling, okay? God is truly a loving Father to His children. He wants us to become everything He has created us to be, even if we have to shed tears and be humiliated on our way there.
It's worth it.
Do yourself a favor and ask God to take you through whatever refining fire He has for you, but only if you're willing to be vulnerable and broken for an indefinite amount of time.
And if you're going through something that feels like that fire now, ask God what He's teaching you.
Whether you ask him or not, you will find out eventually. God doesn't stop halfway through refining you (that would imply that God is not good, which goes against his character)
But I bet if you ask him what He's getting at, He'll let you in on it.
(Unless of course he knows you're not ready for that grand revelation. In which case, hang in there!)

Goodness, I've rambled. I just felt the need to spill about what God has been doing in my life lately.
This is how I process things, I write, and I pray that if it is God's will, this post would be used to encourage you. And if not, I pray that He'd make the link to my blog quit working.
--Amen--

By the way.. Sorry about the whole "seven-month-gap-between-posts" thing.
I realize that that is very uncool in the blogging society and I have no right to claim the title of 'blogger' anymore.
That's okay.
I hereby claim the title of 'sleepy child of God writing at 11:47pm because she had something on her mind and it wasn't this late when she started writing and now she's going to shut up because this rambling is getting annoying' 
Bye!

Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Year End Reflections/boasting about God's crazy awesomeness

I was just writing in a journal about some things that God has done in my life over the past year, and I was quite impressed. When God wants to do stuff, He doesn't mess around. Here's a scratch on the surface of what He's done in my life this year.

* He promised to give me peace after a season of restlessness and "desert wandering", and he absolutely kept his word. He's truly proven to me that he is indeed, the Prince of Peace.
* He gave me eyes to see how richly blessed I am, and he was delighted to see me delighting in it.
* He said "watch this!" And provided for me in unthinkable ways.
* He revealed to me all kinds of truth about his unchanging character and nature. And he showed me how everything else is what it is because of who he is.
* He showed me who I am. And how very precious I am in his sight.
* He revealed to me his Father Heart and I found out how amazing it is to take up my identity as a daughter of God.
* He broke down barriers inside of me that we're keeping my heart from getting close to his.
* He explained the difference between being quiet and being insecure. Then he broke off the insecurity in me and showed me how to walk out in quiet confidence. (Yeah!! God! For the WIN!)
* He shared his heart for Thailand with me. I had no expectations for Thailand, I wasn't even excited to go until we were going, but once the plane landed, I was in love. It's inexplainable except that God was sharing his heart.
* He let me experience righteous anger as well. It was strange but cool. It certainly gave me the drive to pray all the harder for a certain area in Thailand.
* He taught me about being selfless and sacrificial for the sake of someone else and for his pleasure and glory. —not only taught me about it, but he gave me lots of opportunity to walk out in obedience in it. ;)
* He taught me to be obedient daily. It's hard to live an obedient life until you're taking it one task at a time, saying "yes, Lord" to each individual thing he tells you to do.
* He pursued me relentlessly. He actually said "I'm going to pursue you this week" one week, and by the end of that week, I was head over heels for Him. Still am.
* He taught me about the power of prayer. It is effective. Hours of intercession on end gave me plenty of opportunity to see what good he will do through persistent and sincere prayers.
So go pray. :P
* He proved to me that He is the only thing that can fill that stinkin' void inside of me. And he's certainly filled it and is continuing to do so. And the more he pours in, the more I can pour out, and the more he can pour in...

So there's the BIG revelations that I can think of right now.
God's so great.
And you know what? He won't be any less great in 2014!!
Happy New Year! :)

Chels

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Tile Floor Perspective

Friday.Nov.15.13—Chiang Mai, Thailand.

I sit cross-legged on the tile floor of a peaceful little balcony that I and my two room mates are so blessed to enjoy. When I look up, I see the tip-top of a tree and the dusty sky through the window.
I hear the fireworks that go off whenever someone lights a lantern to send off into the clouds... The lights are everywhere in the sky. I watch them even now, as they drift without a care through the atmosphere.
They blissfully wander through the clouds, looking down on this city.
And what a sight it must be. It makes me think of what God's view must be like.
I try to imagine what He must feel for this place.
Maybe joy when He sees the ministries flourishing here, probably sorrow and compassion when he sees the heartbreak of so many people, surely jealousy and righteous anger when he sees the people worship puny little idols.

Right now I see a long string of lanterns ablaze in the night sky. I wonder if each of them was set off to honor or please some false god.
It crushes me to think about it— all the promises that these 'gods' make. They promise peace and prosperity to the people, but dead gods can't do anything.
And so the people are left striving for and chasing a whole lot of nothing.
It's the emptiness of the whole ordeal that weighs on my heart.

But I think again about my God and of his view of this city right now.
One thing I know is this:
He sees is his little girl, sitting cross-legged on a tile floor of a balcony in Chiang Mai.
He hears the weeping of my heart for this place, and suddenly His spirit is here with me, saying that he knows that I am feeling burdened and enclosed in the darkness that surrounds me. But he whispers softly, "I have overcome, I have overcome".
He won't stop saying it, because it's the truth.
He says that from a tile floor perspective, this city seems dark and hopeless.
But he assures me that from a Heavenly perspective, there is no need for weeping or burdens, because He has overcome.

And so the weight is lifted, and the balcony is peaceful.
Now I can look up at the lanterns drifting with the clouds without a rush of negative emotion.
My God is greater and he has overcome.
Amen.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Update from Thailand #2

Update.
(Farewell, Korat!)

I can hardly believe that we've already spent 3 amazing weeks in Thailand.
I've caught myself so many times thinking about what's happening here, and I stand amazed and honored to have a part in it.
On Tuesday evening we'll leave the lovely city of Korat, and drive 12 hours to Chiang Mai. This is where we'll be staying for the next (and final) 3 weeks of outreach.

So how about I tell you about what we've been up to?
While staying here in Korat, we've partnered with a ministry called The Tamar Center.
It's been an absolute pleasure to work alongside these guys! Their ministry here is amazing.
They do so many things, I think we've only had a tiny taste of what it's like during our time here.
But what we've been doing has certainly been full-on.

1. English Teaching
We did more of this than anything, and by our last school visit (yesterday), I think we'd just about gotten the hang of it ;)
This is what a typical English teaching day would look like:
We'd arrive at the school (we visited one high school, many primary schools, and one special ed school) and for the first hour or two and do a program with about 200 students.
The program included some cover songs —I've about had it with "Baby" by Justin Bieber—, we'd do some skits of Bible stories (The Prodigal Son, "Davie and Goliath", etc.), play "Every Move I Make" or "O Happy Day" with hand motions and have the kids join in, and occasionally have someone share a brief testimony.
Then we'd split into 5 or 6 groups, and teach English for around 2 hours.
Then came lunchtime, which typically would take one hour.
Then another 2 hours of English teaching in our separate groups before we all got together again for another 1 or 2 hours of songs and skits and whatnot.
Then came time to say goodbye :( our students were usually very affectionate and would ask for pictures with everyone. Pictures with 200 students takes a while, folks.
But it was sweet, I really enjoyed going to schools.

2. The Village
We were able to visit a village a couple of times while being here. It is about a two hour drive from our accommodation, so it was special to be able to go there.
We'd spend a couple hours playing with the kids in the village, then have dinner, then we'd join the Christian adults of the village and gather for a time of worship, a testimony, and a message. This is a regular ministry of the Tamar Center folks, in fact, they reach out to this particular village every Tuesday.

3. Evangelism/prayer
There is a plaza type of thing in Korat that has statues and idols set up and it's a place known for all the prostitution that goes on in the area. Every Saturday evening we'd go there to pray and evangelize.
On our first night going to this place, I was filled with a 'righteous anger' for it.
God's certainly shared His heart for that place with me. It was the strangest thing to be so upset when typically, I'd be able to brush off the "icky dark feelings" and move on.
But this place is dark, let me tell you. Every time we went, the same thing happened.
But I know for sure that our prayers are having an effect on the place.
I know for a fact that strongholds have been broken in that place for good over the past weeks, and by golly, they're not going to stop being broken because God is ready to take that place back and restore it and renew the lives of the people there.
Ah-hem.

4. Etc..
-We also had the privilege of visiting a hospital (where we performed some songs in the lobby),
-an orphanage (where we talked to the kids and sang some songs, gave a testimony),
-a home for elderly folks (where we spent some time just chillin' and praying with the people).

And many, many, more things.
Today for our last day in Korat, we will go and see some really old temple ruins, and then go to the village one last time.

That's all for now :)

Chelsea

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Update from Thailand

Thailand.Oct25.13

Sawat dee kha! (Hello!)

It's officially outreach time.
let me give you a somewhat condensed version of the past couple of days.
On Tuesday in Bangkok we had orientation. Quite an amusing/informative morning, that was. In the afternoon we had a scavenger hunt (we students split into groups of 3 and explored Bangkok).
In the evening we went to a very large mall, where I was thrilled to find a Starbucks-!!!!-
My first Starbucks in 3 months. Salted Caramel Mocha. I think I may have been floating through the mall out of sheer bliss.

On Wednesday we went on a prayer walk through Bangkok.
We went to a temple, a palace, and another temple (which was located on top of a giant hill). We walked 300+ steps to get there... My legs are still sore :)
We prayed at each place for different things. It was awesome.
Not to mention all the modes of transportation throughout the day:
Buses, trains, boats, Tuk tuks, and lots of walking.
That evening we squished ourselves into a van and drove 5 1/2 hours nonstop to Korat.
We were warmly welcomed by our hosts and shortly thereafter caught some serious zzz's.

Thursday morning we woke up, had a time of worship together, ate breakfast, and headed out.
We cleaned out the building that we are now staying in. It's a lovely place! Seriously.
I'm stoked and feeling extremely blessed to spend the next 3 weeks here.
We got ourselves settled in, then explored the area.
And in the evening we ventured out to the mall. Guess what? Another Starbucks!
:)

But today was the best day yet.
Our first official day of outreach-ing. :D we went to a high school and taught English! It was soooooooo much fun.
There were about 200 students for the 11 of us.
So first, we split all of the students into 5 separate groups. Each with 2 of us YWAMers as teachers. Some groups had translators, some did not. Thankfully, Rebekka and I had a wonderful translator. Otherwise, our class would have been a mess.
So we started with about 2 hours of "English Class" with our group. In this time, we introduced ourselves and prayed for our time. Then we had each of the students introduce themselves, tell us how old they are, when their birthdays are, and stuff like that.
They also had a worksheet that we helped them with. Most of the kids had no trouble with it, though.
Then we all read about the prodigal son together. (At this time we were able to share about God's love. We had no restrictions on telling about God while at the school, so we went for it as much as possible :D)
Then we sang "Jesus' love is sweet and marvelous". I made up some hand motions and we had some fun with it. Especially when the students sang the song in Thai and did the motions with me :)
Eventually we stopped for lunch.
After lunch, we were informed that we had another hour and a half to teach our groups.
Rebekka and I had an "oh, shoot" moment then, as we'd already gone through all of our teaching material. But we came up with things to fill the time, although they were not incredibly informative regarding the English language. :P
We played "duck, duck, goose", which was adorable. The kids got the biggest kick out of it. Everyone was wearing socks and the floor was slippy, so it made for some amusing playtime. We also played "red light, green light" for a bit. After that, we sat down and I shared my testimony. It was sweet, at one point I mentioned how I used to feel like I was not very beautiful or confident, and when the translator said it, all the kids said "aww! :("
But I got to tell how God has changed my life, so it was awesome.
Then they asked Rebekka and I to sing for them... So we did what we could on a whim.
I think we sang 3 or 4 worship songs before I found myself leading the group through the hokie pokie. Hahaha! Good times.

After our class time ended, all of the students came together again and we played some songs, people gave testimonies, and we did a skit.

At the end of our time, we thought we'd finish with the song, "Oh, Happy Day". All of us were on a stage, doing hand motions and dancing around. I can't explain to you what joy filled my heart to see 200 students having fun and doing the motions along with us.
Then it went crazy.
Our wonderful musicians played covers of a few super popular songs (One Direction, Taylor Swift) while the rest of us were pulled into the crowd ;) we jumped and danced and sang. It was practically a concert. Lots of fun.

It was an amazing day, and I'm so glad that we were able to speak openly about God.
I'm really hoping to see the students again during our time here. God is really, really giving me a heart for them.

So anywho.
That's what's going on.
I'll try to keep you updated, of course!

Chelsea

Monday, October 21, 2013

Posted from Thailand

Thailand.Oct 22.13

At nearly 9PM (Bangkok time) last night, our plane landed in Thailand.
I don't know what it was, but before we even touched the ground, I just started to love this place. I'm totally captivated and intrigued at the differences in culture (of which there are many, of course) everything is so new and exciting...
And think; God loves and watches over this place just as much as He does the States, or Australia, or anywhere. I'm incredibly honored to spend time here and excited to feel more of God's heartbeat for Thailand.
So yeah, I'm elated.
We're staying in amazing accommodations. We each have our own bed, there are super accessible and good showers, there's even air conditioning in our room!
When we got here, we found a bottle of water, a note, and a sweet smelling ring of flowers on each bed (which were neatly covered with sheets, and topped with a pillow!)
It may sound strange for me to be so excited about these things, but honestly I had no idea what to expect and was prepared to be fine with a sleeping bag on the ground.

Our ride here from the airport was exciting. I don't know how to describe the vehicle.. We were basically in a partially enclosed truck bed with benches. One of the guys stood in the back of the thing and held on tight as we cruised along the highway and zippy little cars and motor scooters sped past us.

I'm stoked, guys. This place is good.
The whole ground/sleeping bag situation will probably become reality at some point, and that's fine.
I'm just so blessed to have the opportunity to experience a different part of God's creation like this.

Can't wait to have more to tell!

Chelsea

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Week 11. Missions

Week 11- Missions/Outreach Prep (last week of lectures!)
Journal entry no. 10

That's right, this is our final week of lecture phase. I can't believe it but on Friday afternoon, Outreach Phase begins!
On Saturday morning we'll head to a small town here in Australia (about 2 hours away from our base). We'll be partnering with YWAM Brisbane and helping out with the "Go Pass It On Tour". These guys run to a town, set up a giant tent, host people from the town for exciting events, help out with projects in the community, go door-to-door giving out fun packages which are full of stuff focused on bringing families closer together, and teach about God :)
We'll be with them for one week, and it's going to be awesome!
Then we come back to our base, get re-packed, and head to Thailand on Monday morning!
Yikes!

So this week we've been talking about missions. (Makes sense, right?)
We have a crazy awesome speaker named Angel McGill. She's a hardcore missions chick, and exactly what we needed this week as we prepare for outreach.

We've covered a ton of super helpful topics.
Such as...

1. Knowing what type of prayer/worship is most appropriate for whatever setting you're in, and being able to discern what will be beneficial and uplifting to those you are worshiping with (assuming you're in a corporate setting). If you're by yourself, pray whatever way you do. But there's a reason why everything gets super weird when someone randomly shouts "hallelujah!" In a time of corporate prayer that's solemn/reflective. It doesn't fit and immediately disrupts some deeeeep thought processes, I'm sure.
It doesn't mean that you aren't communicating with God the right way if you have a joyous moment with the Lord while everyone else is meditative.. But you should be sensitive to the atmosphere and respectful of others.
If you're a shoutin' praise kind of person, awesome! That's great! But there are certain worship and prayer settings where that isn't going to be a very helpful addition to the worship. Holding back praise in a time of corporately speaking things out isn't uplifting to the body, either, for the record.
It's about being wise in how you act, and being loving towards your brothers and sisters in Christ.

2. We talked more about spiritual warfare, and the authority we have with our identity in Christ. It's powerful, man.
Angel made an excellent point:
The enemy has power, but not authority. There's a difference.
Power can do nothing without authority saying so.

3. When on outreach (and in life), you communicate a lot more with your actions/attitude than with your words.
I could genuinely feel loving toward someone without them ever knowing it if I don't act like it. If I'm too shy or nervous to go talk to them, for instance.
Clothes also have a lot to say. There are certain pairs of shorts that could seriously damage a ministry, and chances are, the offender would have no idea. Because different cultures have different opinions on what is acceptable and what is not. (Although there are some shorts that shouldn't be accepted in any culture, in my opinion) :P
Anyway, we talked a lot about being aware of yourself and what you may be communicating, even if it's not at all what's on your heart.

So those were the main things that I picked up in lectures so far this week.
Of course there was plenty more, but I can't write everything down here, you know.

So that's all for now, folks.
Chelsea