Thursday, July 20, 2017

Greater Realities

So I wanted to share something that I feel was neat and important for me to learn both here in France, and on my trip to D.C.  When I was in D.C., and even at the beginning of my trip here, I was really feeling like I wasn't doing enough.  I was feeling like I hadn't gotten to have any truly incredible and life-changing witnessing conversations, so I felt useless.  Instead, I began to notice that quite a few of the people I was talking to were Christians.  I found joy in meeting Christians from around the world, and was so encouraged by simply knowing that there are people out there that love the Lord!  Different people on the team helped me realize that encouraging believers is a ministry as well as sharing the Gospel to the lost.  It's been humbling as I have set or imagined expectations for myself,
but as God has showed me His plan, which has been different than what I thought- it has been so much better!
While I've been here in Strasbourg, I've been able to come alongside different believers and pray for, encourage and share meals with them; all have been huge blessings to me, and I hope to them. This starts wherever we're at.  Being at home some days you (I) might feel useless but if we wake up each day and pray, "God, what do you have for me today?" He says, "I have prepared in advance these good works, for you to walk in" (Ephesians 2:10).  If we are open and willing, God will direct our hearts to reach out to the people around us, in our everyday lives!  Don't think that God can't use you, or won't, because His will is so much bigger than what we can imagine!

What am I doing?
Is my service enough?
Shouldn't I be changing the world?

Here in the background,
I barely make a noise.
Just washing dishes and
organizing useful toys.
How is this helping?

If they don't hear, how will they know?
I just want to go share, (even though I'm not a pro).

Instead I speak to people who already know the truth.
I pray for and reassure them of the God who loves,
in return I am encouraged and told I'm someone they're proud of.

Sure, I'm being blessed, but what about the lost nations?
What impact am I having in these conversations?

A pastor, a mother, a tourist, all from around the globe.
Maybe they needed a push, to go share the gospel.
Maybe their conscience needed a probe.

Serving the Lord may not look like what we expect
regardless of what we see, if our heart is right,
great will be the effect.

"And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works...encourage one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near." (Hebrews 10:24-25)

Thank you for all the prayers and support they mean the world!

Saturday, July 15, 2017

Across the World

Hey everyone!  I'm over here in France right now enjoying a piece of carrot cake that I got from this super neat café in downtown Strasbourg, called Oh My Goodness, where I am working for the next 3.5 weeks.  The café is owned by a local Christian pastor who is in the process of planting an Evangelical church.  I'm here serving the locals coffee and am going to be helping with worship at their church service the next two Sundays.

It's crazy thinking about how a little over a week ago I was in Washington, D.C. on our yearly mission trip there.  That was a neat experience as I was able to meet some neat Christian people from around the world!  I think of a pastor I met from South Korea, and a sweet lady from South Carolina who was excited to soon go on her first mission trip.  On the trip, tight friendships were formed and I'm thankful for that.  In total, our team of 32 gave out over 5,200 cds with Bible stories on them, in 119 different languages!  Thank you for all the prayers and support!  This lady we took a picture with didn't speak any English, but she loved our shirts and wanted a photo with us! (Our shirts say, "God speaks your language" in a few different languages...I had been on security duty at this moment).  On Sunday, we got to visit a neat Baptist Church in the area and sang beautiful hymns along with fellow believers.

Back to what I'm doing here in France, in the past few days I have made new friends everyday!  I've gotten to work with so many interesting and fun people in the café: three of those being, a Christian girl from Texas, a French hipster dude with a man bun, and a Muslim guy from Algeria.  It has been neat getting to share with them my reason for spending the summer here in France to serve in the café, and to hear their stories and backgrounds.  I'm looking forward to continuing these friendships and getting to talk to them more about their beliefs.  My lack of French speaking has been rough, but fun as I have been challenged to learn new phrases and use them!  Thank you for all the prayers and support! I'm missing California already, but not ready for my time here to be over.

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

See the Beauty

It can be rough sometimes when God decides to reveal to you where your heart is at.  For me these past few weeks I've been praying and thinking about a lot, and not realizing it, I've been stressed.  I just got back actually, from the dentist, who said I need a mouth guard to stop me from grinding me teeth:( Once again, God revealing the anxiety in my heart.  But this post isn't about the thorn of stress in my side, its actually about contentment.  Even though we may not realize it at times, this hidden stress I think can come from a lack of contentment.

If you asked someone, anyone really, what they wanted, most likely they could easily tell you about a desire or dream they may have.  Living in America, we are surrounded by the idolized dream of obtaining bigger and better toys.  Personally, it isn't toys (clothes or cars) that I am constantly wishing for, to make myself happy, it's experiences and relationships.

Does this thought sound familiar to you? "If only I had a boyfriend (or girlfriend), I would feel loved.  I would always feel fulfilled and needed." "If only I could go to Europe, I would be happy."
If these thoughts sound genuine, it's because they were for me.  And honestly I will say that that going to Europe fulfilled a certain desire in my heart, but now what? Now I come home and I am itching to go back?  The thing is, I'm not.  It's like we think we can run from our problems and live perfectly in another place, but honestly being there was so much harder.  (Don't get me wrong, it was incredible, but I love living in CA)

Being home for two weeks now, I've realized how often I think about all the things that I want or "need".  And I've realized how instead of telling myself that I need certain things, I need to be thankful.  Since I've become aware of this, being thankful is truly something worth celebrating- all year round.  When we intentionally look for the beauty and the positives in every circumstance, something incredible happens in our hearts.

There are so many small details incorporated in each situation, so why focus on the things that went wrong, when you can praise God for all the things that went well!

If you have a desire to travel, as strong as I do, let me tell you from experience, I've learned you will never find what you're looking for in another place, if you aren't already content at home.
The fulfillment you're looking for isn't over there, it's right beside you.  Stop looking to other things for happiness when you have Christ.  He is is the only one who will satisfy your heart and the deep longing you have for something more.  I'm speaking to myself here. But trust me on this, you won't be able to see the beauty in anything until Christ makes your vision clear.

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