Thorns

“…So to keep me from becoming proud, I was given a thorn in my flesh, a messenger from Satan to torment me and keep me from becoming proud.

Three different times I begged the Lord to take it away. Each time he said, “My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.” So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ can work through me. That’s why I take pleasure in my weaknesses, and in the insults, hardships, persecutions, and troubles that I suffer for Christ. For when I am weak, then I am strong.”

2 Corinthians 12:7b-10

I’ve been experiencing these little bad moments throughout my stay here in Poland. Today, I jabbed my finger against the door and broke my nail horizontally in the middle of the nail bed. The day before, I kept scrapping my already peeling cuticles every time I had to open my wallet (and that’s quite often when you’re buying for a new apartment). I’ve banged my head on cabinets. My living arrangements got complicated. I had to walk in the rain with Kaitlyn, lugging about 7-8 lbs. of furniture for 1.5 miles after walking the same distance to go pick it up. I’ve been bitten by mosquitoes about 5-6 times, and the bite marks are still on my face and arm after a week. I also fell and landed on thorny brush, scratching up my arm the first full day I was here.

Needless to say, I’ve faced some mishaps. And it’s only been 2 weeks now.

However, don’t get the wrong idea. I’m not discouraged by any of this. Just as Paul saw his “thorn” as God’s way of reminding him not to be proud and to rely on his strength over Paul’s, I feel more confident that I’m where I’m supposed to be. Satan can’t do anything about my presence in Poland; I’m ready to share about Jesus and live with love, pursuing grace and truth here. My Polish skills keep improving, and I see where God can use me in sharing my faith with some other teachers and to pray for those who are hurting.

I’m blessed thoroughly. The challenges I’m facing at the just the beginning are only going to reap a richer, durable character in me. I want to keep up my faithful attitude, even when the times will get harder (and they certainly will as the school year goes forward).

The sermon this morning at Tomy church was about Joshua 1, and following the promise of God courageously. The take-away at the end and I hope to keep it in mind in the months to come:

Kiedy Bóg mówi: “Naprzód!”– odważnie zaufaj Jego Słowu.
When God says: “Go forward!” — boldly/courageously trust His Words.

 

Bon Voyage!

Today is the day I leave for Poland. I’ve had a hard time figuring out how to word what I’m feeling. There’s a lot excitement and anticipation for what’s to come, but I’ll definitely miss home.

My last weekend at Mosaic was emotional. I definitely cried after the last song, and had to fight my tears at the beginning so I wasn’t bawling on stage trying to sing. My impending departure hit me hard in that moment. These people I was leading in worship, the other members of the band around me, the teaching, the friendships…I’m going to miss it dearly. I’ve grown so much since coming to Mosaic almost 3 years ago. I came feeling burdened and overwhelmed about God, not even sure if I wanted to believe anymore, and have since found freedom and peace in grace and truth. Honestly, God just knew what I needed in a community of believers. I’m so, so grateful.

My family and friends as well have spent a lot of time with me over the last few days. I love them so much. We’ll keep in touch, even though it’s not the same as being in person, but I’m only a Skype or Messenger away. Thank God for technology!

And I’m only able to do this because I have a community of people behind me. Thank you to all of you who have helped and will be helping going forward, whether giving money and/or praying for me. I look forward to sharing the greater things God will do through your generosity and care!

Alright. I have 11 hours before my flight, less than that to finish wrapping up everything at home, and last minute errands to get done. Let’s go!

Pure joy

My departure is coming close. And the closer it gets, the more annoyances (aka. thorns of the flesh as Paul called them) keep showing up. Some are self-inflicted by my lack of trust and insecurity, but some for sure are results of the spiritual warfare going on over my decision to go on a mission for Jesus.

My car still being for sale with one week left to try to gain some funds from it and get rid of the car note; the extra stress of changing schedule at my nanny job (which had never been so crazy before and not the fault of the parents either); getting lost going to church with kids and being late; dropping and loosing things constantly; inability to sleep a full-night; having to fight off discouragement and scrapping this whole venture.  All of these things are kind of small, though, and might just be normal parts of life period.

The push-back I’ve gotten from some of family is much more difficult to handle. That tension hasn’t lessened much. One of the most vocal members of my immediate family was adamantly against me leaving because she felt I was needed at home far more than Poland. I tried share my vision and assurance I had from the Holy Spirit about this, but despite her long-standing belief in Jesus, she felt like I was making a mistake and couldn’t support me. This ended with me needing to leave the room before I said something stupid, and only talking to her once I left with barely a good-bye. I knew I would have to tell her I was officially leaving once I got my plane ticket, but I kept putting it off because the last conversation went so awful.

Just last night, she was rushed to the emergency room with severe pains. A week before I’m supposed to leave. Sigh. I had planned to visit or at least call to let her know I’m actually going because I don’t have any more time to stall. The health issues are just another complication, now.

I just sense all these things and more are Satan’s way of pitching a fit that I’m doing this, and all the more assurance that I’m on the right track. Plus, James 1:2-4 is reassuring:

“Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles of any kind come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing.”

I read another verse this week–Hebrews 10:36–that started with “patient endurance.” Oh how apt for the season I’m in right now. Patient endurance. The patience to trust God’s process and timing, and the endurance to handle the obstacles and work now and work to come. Anyone that’s trained for any kind of distance race knows the beginning is tough, then you get into a stride where things feel pretty good before hitting what’s known as ‘the wall.’ One of the things I remember learning while I trained for my half-marathon years ago is to recognize the wall and be able to push past it. To keep going until you finish.

I’m feeling like I’m just hitting the first uphill in this race and it’s kicking my butt a little bit. But God’s also at my back encouraging me forward. I gotta keep going.

 

Still

Twenty days until I get on the plane. There’s a lot of emotions that I’m not sure how to process yet. I’m anxious about leaving home and being on my own. I’m a bit concerned about how people there will receive me. I’m nervous about communicating daily with kids who don’t know English. And whether I will be speaking to their parents as well. (I’ve never been good at that in my own language, much less Polish.)

There’s also the great unknown of moving your entire life to a foreign country for a year to serve God’s purpose that isn’t completely laid out yet. The only certainty I have right now is “go.”

I suppose it’s exciting. This is an adventure as much as it’s a risk. All possibilities are open right now. But it’s kind of terrifying that all possibilities are open, too. I anticipated difficulties. I’m going through some before I’ve even got a bag packed. Funding obstacles, family relationship troubles, self-doubt tied to both these things…it feeds into the part of missions and risk-taking that requires one to lean hard on God’s mercy and sovereignty. He’s driving this train toward the right destination, so I just gotta hold on. He knows how the tracks have to twist and turn to make it. Doesn’t mean I’m not still clinging for dear life to my seat, though.

If my posts seem redundant, it’s because I constantly need to remind myself of this: God knows. I’m in the midst of transition, and it’s frustrating, stressful, and just plain hard. There’s joy in knowing that I’m going, that I’m really taking a great leap toward my devotion to Christ. But really, I’m worried, too. I can tell because I haven’t had a full night’s restful sleep in weeks. My soul feels unsettled.

Then Jesus said, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls.  For my yoke is easy to bear, and the burden I give you is light.”

Matthew 11:28-30 NLT

This verse came to mind. I know it’s exactly what I need to do this week. Breathe and be still in him. Amen.

 

Bring it all to Peace

In my last post, I was really feeling helpless. My anxiety and worry over the details made me feel like the road ahead was too much. Like I couldn’t possibly make this happen. I couldn’t see how God was going to move the obstacles in my way.

Well, happily, I’m not in that space anymore. For now. Reality is, I’ll probably end up feeling that way again at some point down the line, but God’s been encouraging me and through my helplessness, drawing me closer to trusting him. I’ve been praying daily, multiple times a day over this journey, the people in my life, to have patience and faith in his provision, and for continued courage to keep moving forward boldly. I’m memorizing scriptures like Exodus 14:14 (NLT), “The Lord himself will fight for you. Just say calm.”

All of this has helped tremendously, and most of all, I’m encouraged to know that I’ve gotten some monthly donations already submitted. It makes such a huge difference to know I’ve got people on board with this, to see concrete evidence of that. I’m so grateful to have you guys backing me up in prayer and with finances because the spiritual warfare has been real lately. Between some small but annoying setbacks to push-back from family, I’ve been on a rollercoaster of emotions and feeling less secure about what I’m doing. But there have definitely been more open doors than closed ones. I’ve had some cool opportunities to share my mission with people outside my usual circle and seeing their enthusiasm for me gives me that extra boost I need to keep going forward with confidence.

Anyway, the weekend is going to be a busy one. I’m doing a push for donations by next weekend so I will have enough commitment to purchase a plane ticket by my birthday in 2 weeks and getting ready for my flea market table on Saturday morning. I ordered cards to pass out to people, which has already come in handy, and need to pull together all the things I plan on selling. Then I’m serving this weekend at church Saturday and Sunday, and have a possible test drive for my car on Sunday afternoon. Needless to say, I will be exhausted, but in a really good way. Looking forward to seeing what God does in the next few days.

So it begins

I sat on my couch last Friday night, filling out and submitting my application for a long-term mission in Poland with Proem Ministries. And today, I got it back.

Approved! Green light! It’s really happening!

God has made it so clear that I need to do this. Like, I’m convinced in a way that I’ve never felt before in my life. His Spirit is prodding me forward and I feel a little crazy trying to get all this done in 2 months. But he is able and I’m going to trust his lead.

My next steps are to get a donations account set up for people to start giving and committing to give regularly. Then sell a bunch of my stuff to buy the plane ticket and curb all of the debt I have. That includes my car. I’m worried about that one, but God’s going to come through as he always has. I have to tell myself that to remember. And, actually, I almost forgot. The family I nanny for agreed to let me borrow their extra car for as long as I need last week when I shared that I would be selling mine. What the what?! God at work even before I had the official O-K.

Even so, I can’t help but feel somewhat overwhelmed by how much I need to accomplish in short order. It’s not easy uprooting your habitual life, but I believe there are some crazy awesome things to come from all of this. Just worry about today, right, God? (Matthew 6:34)