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! :)


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.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Update from Thailand #2

(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.

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 :)


Saturday, October 26, 2013

Update from Thailand


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!


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!


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!

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.

Saturday, October 5, 2013

Week 10

Week 10.
Journal Entry no. 9

This week has been.... Interesting.

Monday was fun! We ventured out and visited the Easterfest office. (Easterfest is a giant Christian Music Festival that takes place here in Toowoomba over Easter weekend.)
It was so cool to hear about what goes on "behind the scenes", and to get a bit of insight about what the Christian music industry is really like.
I thought it was neat that the folks at Easterfest pray about each step of planning the festival. If God were to tell them not to have it one year, they'd cancel without hesitation.
They're so committed to the Lord before anything else. I like that.
I also like that when booking artists, they don't necessarily look for the best of the best, but rather who will have a big impact. Last year, they had a band that was not a 'Christian' band, but the members were totally followers of Christ.
And apparently, they were one of the highlights of the festival for a LOT of people.
I like that concept, by the way.
Christians creating music that speaks foundational truth into the lives of those who wouldn't go near a 'Christian' album.
Yes, that's right: I think that there should be more Christians operating outside of the Christian music scene.
I totally love Christian artists straight up praising God, but what about the people who don't know God? They're left with very little music that actually speaks life.
And so they tune in to the catchy songs about so-and-so cheating on so-and-so.
How uplifting.
I applaud Christians who are willing to break into that scene and speak Biblical truths through really amazing music.
'Cause we've got talent, people! We could really shift some culture for the better if we accepted our God-given gifts and carried out our responsibility as stewards of God's earth!

Thank you for enduring my rant.

Tuesday was cool. Our speaker was a leader of a YWAM school here in Australia.
He also is a filmmaker who just finished filming a movie. He showed us some 'behind the scenes' clips and talked about what it's like to make a movie.
And he also talked about working as a Christian in a non-Christian entertainment industry.

God was really talking to me in the beginning of the week about taking life one step at a time. As in, one day at a time.
If I'm 1. Enjoying God,  2. Being obedient to God, and 3. Trusting God every day, life just works better.
Whatever challenge that comes your way, you can handle it with God's help one day at a time.
Don't think about anything beyond every moment or you'll get overwhelmed.

Which is precisely what happened to me on Wednesday.
See, on Tuesday night I may have gotten a total of two hours of sleep.
(Understand that I typically only get 6 1/2ish hours here,  so I'm usually a little behind on sleep anyhow)
So on Wednesday, this is what happened:
I was exhausted from thinking and thinking about future, taking in tons of information in lectures for 10 weeks straight, I was feeling homesick, not caught up on sleep at all, and we were talking about the Holy Spirit in lectures (which isn't a bad thing at all, just one of the harder topics for me to think about. Especially when I'm already running out of steam), and I wasn't feeling too wonderful physically, either.

So! I basically had a total breakdown at morning tea time on Wednesday. Ran to my room and had a good weep. From then on, things started getting better.
A good cry usually does help, you know ;)

Anyway. We continued talking about the Holy Spirit for the rest of the week...
There is a lot to think about with that subject, and I'm still thinking.
I'll let you know when I've processed it more or have had a big revelation about it.

The main things I learned this week are:
1. That I can trust God to lead me every step of the way, knowing His character enough to rest assured that He will not lead me astray. Especially if I walk in obedience with Him day by day.
2. God is always, always right there with me. I felt His presence so strongly this week.
Particularly when I was having my little breakdown... It was like His arm was around my shoulder and he was whispering, "it's okay, you can cry. Really, it's okay and I'm here for you". There were quite a few moments like that this week.
God is so good.

I get to sing on the worship team on Monday! I'm excited, thinking of it as "Monday's step of obedience" :D plus, an amazing roomie of mine is the worship leader. Woohoo!

And one week from today Outreach phase begins! Again I say, "woohoo!"

That's all for now..