Waiting as I Wander

“But I trust in you, O Lord, I say, “You are my God.” My times are in your hands…” – Psalms 31:14-15a (NIV)”

“There is an appoint time for everything. And there is a time for everything under heaven.” – Ecclesiastes 3:1 (NASB)

“All the different periods of life:
The times of prosperity and the times of adversity,
The times of advance and the times of retreat,
The times of activity and the times of waiting,
They are all in your hand.” – Steve Gallagher

“Wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord.” -Psalms 27:14 (NIV)

     I have never been very good at waiting. It’s a character flaw, I suppose. I live in an impatient society. My generation is one of instant gratifications, a phenomenon studied by many psychologists, some of whom I would imagine were not raised in an era where that was even a thing. I live in a world where smart phones get more attention than our friends and family, Netflix is chosen over a good book, and looks are all that matter. It’s heartbreaking, but you can’t help but get caught up in it all.

     Yet, when I do, I not only reduce my ability to wait on the things I want, but I also lose my ability to wait on the things of God. I want an “instant God.” I want my prayers to be answered and my desires to be delivers right away. I don’t want a mediated “No.” because something isn’t meant for me. I want everything to be a “Yes, of course you can have that, Anna.” I want the wages without the work, so to speak.

     The Israelites wandered 40 years in the desert searching for the Promise Land, even though the journey should have only taken days. They grumbled and complained, they were not instantly satisfied, even though God provided for their every need. And Moses failed to enter the Promise Land because of his disobedience to God. WOAH, what?? Fast forward a few thousand years and let’s apply that to my life.

    How often do I feel “lost” and like I’m wandering without a purpose? DAILY! How often do I complain or question that? More times than I care to admit! And if God is telling me to wait on Him and I am being disobedient, is He going to withhold His promises from me? YOU BETCHA!

     Praise the Lord that a story of searching that happened so many years ago can relate and reflect my life today. To me, things like that teach me lessons, they bring the Bible to life and they guide me in the ways I should go (as the Word is meant to). So, while I may be wandering in my own little desert right now, I need to PRAISE GOD in the midst of my journey for all He has provided me. My obedience to Him should be of the utmost importance, and if I follow Him, He will lead me into a land overflowing with the abundance of His promises.

God is something else, something that may not be instant, but He sure is eternal. Amen!

The New Is In.

Blast from the Past

As I spent Friday morning skimming through the last year of entries I had written in my journals, I was incredibly proud of myself for keeping up with that discipline. I’ve had a tendency in the past to begin writing in journals or on blogs, and then getting bored or forgetting that I’ve started on it.

It was really rewarding to look back over the past year though and see how far I have come. At first, I was discouraged because all of the worries I journaled about last May were all the same ones I had journaled about this May. “How can I still be at the point in my life,” I thought, “How has nothing changed in the last twelve months?”. But then I realized, I’m not at all the same person that I was a year ago. Sure, some of my worries are the same – doctor bills, student loans, finding a job, etc. – but I am a completely different person than I was just one short year ago.

Then

A year ago, I was still in search of something. It was the same something I had searched for and never found in A. The same thing I ran away to Europe to find. The same thing I came home still looking for. But I was searching for something that I just couldn’t find, no matter how hard or how far away I looked.

I didn’t want to be back in Pacific, the small, dead-end town I grew up in. So, I once again tried to escape in the ways I knew how, through drinking and traveling. I had started hanging out with a new group as soon as I returned home in March, and was quick to jump into the scene of drinking until the wee morning hours with them then ending up in places I shouldn’t have been. But I justified it, saying that I didn’t really party in college so I was getting it out of my system now.

Thankfully, I began working out with a group of guys at my gym and quickly realized that drinking wasn’t part of the lifestyle I really wanted.

But I still hadn’t found what I was looking for. So, I started taking weekend trips to visit friends and to explore new places. I traveled because I was passionate about it, but I also traveled to escape reality. However, the weekend always ended and I always returned home, still unsatisfied and without finding whatever it was I was searching for.

Finding What I Was Searching For

It wasn’t until that day on the driveway last September that I realized what I was missing – God. Sure, I had been going to church and reading my devotions, but I was still allowing myself to do things I knew weren’t completely right. I was what you would call a lukewarm Christian, dangling on the line of the world and Jesus.

Besides that moment on the driveway, there are two other moments I am a hundred percent positive changed my life – the day I forgave A and the day the Lord called me to the mission field.

I have not been the same since. And I won’t be. I can’t be.

Now

I have found exactly what I was searching for, the very essence of my being, the missing piece. I have returned to my First Love, and I have never been more satisfied.

There are still moments when I wonder what I am supposed to be doing and times were things begin looking up, then fall through (jobs, mission trips, etc.). But I have faith in the Lord, and I know that He has an incredible plan for my life, even if I don’t know what that it is yet, and will bring me to it when He is ready. I know that the Lord is using me exactly where He has me today, according to his purpose.

For right now, I am content with where I am at.

I suddenly don’t feel the need to run away anymore, or search for myself in earthly things. I have Him, and that is enough for me.

 

 

Acceptance

Screen Shot 2014-04-22 at 10.00.52 PMA Call to Go

As I’ve wrote before, I’ve been called to go. God is sending me on a mission to spread His love and His name. To serve the least of these for His glory. I am honored, blessed and humbled…and I haven’t even left yet.

The Process

From what I’ve heard, the application process for mission trips takes some work – lots of paperwork and phone calls and interview. Sometimes the entire process can take months. So when I began looking into mission trips last week, I had no idea that within a week, I would be interviewed and asked to join the Experience Mission 3M Costa Rica team for Fall 2014. God works in crazy ways, and sometimes, He works very quickly! I have yet to wrap my mind around the fact that in four short months, I WILL BE IN COSTA RICA!!

WOW.

I was drawn to the Immersion program because rather than focusing on completing tasks, they are focused on building authentic relationships. You live with host families, interact in daily, local life and work alongside the tribes to make their community a better place. It isn’t a trip based just on doing, but on living and loving. And I really like that.

Here’s a video for the Immersion program that shows scenes from Costa Rica. I cannot watch it without tearing up and smiling. I cannot wait for August.

If you would like to know more, or to make a monetary donation, feel free to take a look at my prayer and support letter — A Call to Go.

Beautiful Surrender.

A Whirlwind of a Week

5 April 2014 – “Ah, happy girl. Feeling a little more grown up lately. I like it. I’m pretty content right now. I’m still waiting on the ‘what’s next’ thing, but I’m patiently waiting and living in the present. I like it. It’s working alright for me at the moment…My life is working out exactly as God has planned for it to. There’s a reason I’m not 1000+ miles away right now. I wouldn’t be turning into the woman of God that I’m becoming if I was, and I truly believe that. I’ve needed this season at home to become humble and lose my prideful spirit…I want to be humble, modest, and full of humility. A Jesus-like spirit, not a prideful one.”

6 April 2014 – “The guest speaker spoke on getting your friends saved and about being called into the mission field. I gave a public declaration to give my ALL to go for God, and I meant it. Mission work has been on my heart for so long now, and this timing for me to visit the church was just incredible.

God is doing great things in my life. They may not be BIG things yet, but he is stilling working in and on and through me. I serve a mighty, loving savior. I am so blessed beyond measure. I may not have always made the best decisions and choices, but they have all brought me to this point, to this moment, to these people, and honestly, I wouldn’t change a thing.”

8 April 2014 – “I feel so undeserving. So impure and damaged. I know that is a feeling of the devil though. I know that I am a new creation in the Lord. I know he took me back as a prodigal child as soon as I came running back to him, and that he has been working on me ever since.

I know that I am enough, every flaw and mistake is forgiven. I know that day on the driveway that God spoke to me. I know He has great plans for me. I know He is making me into a woman of beauty in Him, one who is worthy of love and happiness and a life in His perfect will. I know that despite my past, I am more than enough.”

9 April 2014 – “We’re taught not to test God, or to ask him to reveal things to us through signs and wonders, but isn’t that oftentimes what they did in the Bible? Like with Gideon asking God to make the fleece wet and the ground dry (and then vice-versa) to know that the Lord would be with him to save Israel by his hand? I guess I just don’t get it. I guess I’m just looking for a sign.”

10 April 2014 – “Yesterday, I wrote that I was just looking for a sign. A sign that what I have been feeling and thinking and desiring was placed on my heart and my mind because it was God’s will and part of His plan for my life, not just something I wanted. Last night at church, God gave me that sign.

Pastor walked up, placed his hands on my face and before I could utter a sound, he began whispering in my ear, ‘You’ve done the right thing by taking off your shoes, for the place you’re standing on is Holy Ground. Just as I called the prophet to go, so I am sending you’ (there was more to it, and he used the word humility, but I was so consumed, this paraphrase is all I can recall).

I broke, I cried, I shouted, I dropped to my knees, overwhelmed by the Lord. And God spoke. He said, “you asked for a breeze, but I’ve sent you a hurricane.” I cried and I laughed, because he confirmed what I have known since I was a child, that I was called to be a missionary, that I would be going to the ends of the earth for Him. I have never before felt so full and so satisfied. These last few years, I have been in search of something. I travel, I enjoy and I come back longing for more. This is why.

I’m not sure what comes next and I don’t need to. Like mom said, something is going to come along and I’m just going to know it’s time. I’m no longer anxious, but excited. My heart feels as though it may burst with joy and happiness and love and excitement. I feel found. I feel like everything I’ve been longing and searching for is suddenly mine. This passion, this fire, this burning desire is so amazing and so overwhelming.

I’m laying it all down for Him. All of me.”

11 April 2014 – “Ah, how freeing this feeling is. I am excited beyond words for what the Lord is planning to do. I’m anxious because I’m ready. I am SO ready to lay it ALL down for His name, His honor and His glory. I am so blessed that He has chosen and called me to be used by and for Him. So unbelievably blessed and honored.”

 

 

Let’s Catch Up

So much has gone on since my last post in November. You can see a small (but extremely important) part of that in the journal entries I posted above (those are from my personal journal – very real and very raw).

In a quick whirlwind, I’ll attempt to bring you up to speed…

After I forgave A in November, my heart was released from a heavy burden that I didn’t realize was weighing me down so much. As we moved into the new year, I set my sights on the Lord and was determined to dive deeper into him. I began using JoyFm’s Read Through the Bible in a Year as a challenge/resolution for myself. I have always wanted to read through the entire Bible, but have never made it past the first three books before getting extremely bored or off-track. This time, I was determined. I pushed through a few books in the Old Testament that nearly put me to sleep, I got behind during a weekend away and had to read a ton of chapters to catch up and I woke up an hour early some days just to have time to do the reading. I am three and a half months into 2014, and 9 books into the Old and New Testaments (it splits it up so you alternate a bit).

As I’ve read further, I’ve learned more. Even on the days that didn’t hold my interest, I pushed through and kept reading. The days I didn’t feel like doing my devotions were the days I knew I needed to read the most.

And God has taught me so much through these last few months. I have grown in Him more than I ever expected. He has brought me through so much and has given me more blessings than I could have ever thought to ask for. He is truly a mighty God.

He has swarmed me with a few words (aka lessons) lately – pride, humility, beautiful, surrender and faith.

Pride Cometh Before a Fall

“You need to stop being prideful and just drop your weight…”

This was said to me while lifting weights with a (newer) friend at the gym. This was the second time he had called me out on trying to lift more than I could and the second time he used the term pride with me. Six months ago, I got defensive when he used the word. We hardly knew each other, and he definitely didn’t know anything about me or my pride (yet, that reaction makes it obvious that I was very prideful!).

Last week when he said it, I stepped back, dropped my weight for the exercise and then read up on pride and humility during my next devotional time. Two days later, I ended up thanking him for calling me out on it. Pride is something that the Lord has been quietly working on in my life, and sometimes, it takes another person to point out your flaw so you can see that it is still there and needing to be worked on.

He smiled at me and said, “That’s something the Lord works with me on every day. I didn’t even realize I said it, but I’m glad I could help you.” It was one of those moments that you just know is dynamic. I was proud of myself for putting myself out there in humble honestly. I trembled the entire way through the conversation, and realized that thanking someone for calling you out on your pride, was nearly more difficult than actually being called out on it.

None More Beautiful

Beautiful. In today’s world of photoshop, it’s hard to define the word. For months after I moved home, I worked out for hours a day, stuck to a strict diet and wasn’t only unhappy with the results I wasn’t seeing, but I felt ugly, inside and out.

I was miserable and unhappy. I kept comparing myself to the bodies I saw on social media and in magazines, wondering why all of my hard work wasn’t paying off. Wondering why my digestive issues weren’t being resolved (I’m still working on figure this all out and praying for complete healing) and stalling my weight loss. Wondering why I wasn’t beautiful.

I don’t know exactly when it happened, but one day, I just decided that I didn’t care anymore. Sure, I still want to look good and feel confident in my appearance, but I no longer want to believe the lies of the enemy that I am ugly, or that I am not good enough.

Ever since I resolved to be at peace with my body and began eating for health, rather than for a number or a size, I became less stressed and more accepting of myself. I have been released from a disorder that has plagued me for years. I can slip up now, and forgive myself for having a treat off my meal plan or skip a workout and not feel the need to kill myself twice as hard at the next session. In fact, I actually began to FEEL more beautiful. Because God loves me, whether I’m a size 14 or a 4 (and believe me, I am much closer to a 14).

A Call to Surrender

Surrender. A word that has been resonating in my heart lately.

To surrender means to:
– abandon oneself entirely; give in to
– the act of surrendering (synonyms: submission, yielding).
– to agree to stop fighting, hiding, resisting, etc.
– to give control to someone else
– to allow something to influence or control you (Merriam Webster)

When I stood up from the wooden pew at that little non-denomination church last Sunday, I was surrendering my all to God. I was putting myself aside and taking up the cross. I was losing myself again, but this time, I was gaining so much more. I was surrendering to the God who forgives my pride, makes me humble and finds me beautiful.

Well Done, My Good and Faithful One

I cannot wait for the day that I hear the Lord speak those words to me.

I am ready to begin serving for His kingdom, to fulfill the calling He has placed over my life. I am so ready to trek the unbeaten path, to reach the unreached and to spread love to those who have yet to hear of His great name. I am SO ready.

I made a big decision this morning, and while I am extremely nervous about it, I am doing it in faith. I plan on giving my two weeks notice at work this week.

I have dreaded every shift I’ve worked these last few weeks. My heart weighs heavy in my chest the entire time I’m there and my spirit aches. I know it’s because of my recent choice to surrender to God. I am no longer able to return in “good fun” the foul language, inappropriate jokes and crude remarks, and I am no longer able to let them pass by me unaffected. The Lord is calling me out of such a place.

I’m nervous, as I make pretty decent money waitressing. I pay my own bills, buy my own food and have enough extra to treat myself to expensive treats and trips. But this is part of laying it all down for God. This is part of leaving the world’s ways behind, taking up my cross and following him.

Hebrews 11:1 (NIV) says that, “Faith is being sure of what we hope for, and certain of what we cannot see.”

I am ready, willing and waiting to find out where the Lord is leading me to next. I have a few mission trips in mind, and I am praying for each of them. I only want to do His will, and I know that when the right one comes along, it will all work out according to His purpose.

I am stepping out in full faith, and I’ve never been more sure.

Set It Free.

Forgiveness

I thought I knew what forgiveness was. It’s when someone says they’re sorry and you accept their apology, letting go of the offense they made towards you. Isn’t it?

Well, yes. But forgiving someone and letting go of what they did to you doesn’t always take away the pain and the hurt that they caused you, no matter how unintentional it might have been. And usually, people don’t intend to hurt us, but they do and it’s in those time when it hurts the most.

Today during church, the pastor said that he felt someone needed prayer for forgiveness. Instantly, my mind went to one person. It was the same person that just this morning I had written about in my journal…

“So many times I just want to text and tell him how much I miss him and how much I hate him for everything he did and to thank him for all the lessons I learned and tell him I’m happy for him and ask him what wasn’t good enough about me and just cry so that he can see and feel and deal with everything he just dropped when he stopped giving a damn about me. But I never will. I will never again let him know that he had such a strong impact on who I am today. Because he won’t care enough and I’ll care too much. And that’s not worth it anymore.”

I didn’t go up for prayer.

I continued sitting with my legs crossed in the very back row of the church like I normally do. I figured he wasn’t talking to someone else. I had forgiven A quite some time ago for all the things that he had done to me. It wasn’t until I was in Europe that I realized I was truly over it all. I let it go. That meant I forgave him, right? I said I forgave him. Then that day that I was back home and I broke down in tears because I didn’t feel like enough, the day that God met me right there on the driveway as I cried out to Him. Surely I had let all of A’s offenses go for good that day. Hadn’t I?

When he walked away, I was devastated. After everything we had been through. Even after it all, I had stood beside him, and then he left. Just like that, with no explanation. No phone call, no apology, nothing. I let him go, knowing that I needed to, but that didn’t make it any easier.

A part of me was still hanging on. Why? I don’t know, and I may never know.

But I do know that when the pastor continued waiting as one then two and three then four others walked up for prayer, that he was waiting for me. I kept sitting, shifting ever-so-slightly in my seat from the discomfort of the heaviness I was feeling in my chest. With each second, it burned even more.

Before I knew it, I was moving towards the front. I heard a whisper, “there she is” from someone in the pews as I walked. I stood at the front of the church fighting tears as I twisted my rings around my finger, as I often do when I’m thinking over something I’m not sure of.

“What if it wasn’t me he was talking about?”

Usually when someone else goes up for a prayer call, I sigh a breath of relief that it wasn’t me who the Lord was calling out. But not this time. This time, I knew the moment pastor spoke that it was me he was talking to.

He confirmed that when he anointed my head with oil and breathed the words “thank you for your obedience” onto my forehead.

He clasped both his hands on the back of my neck and I sobbed. His words aren’t something I’ll soon forget, nor will that prayer of forgiveness I repeated. In that moment, I was setting it free. I was once and for all letting go of the hurt and the anger and the resentment that I had towards this person who had damaged me so badly.

For the first time, I was finally forgiving him and meaning it.

Peace and contentment, oh how nice to finally meet you.

I am never content. EVER. I have this feeling that I always need to be doing more, seeing more, being more. And I’ve never been able to just live in the moment that I’m in.

Until recently.

Lately, I’ve been struggling with a lot of emotional baggage left by some jerk and feelings of self-worthlessness thanks to a bit of weight gain after a few accidents. But I’m putting all of that behind me. I know who I am, I know what I stand for, and I know what I want. Well, I mostly know what I want…I kind of usually just wing it. But I have a good, general idea of what I’d like to do in the next few years, and that’s good enough for me.

I’m finally figuring a lot of things out. I’m finally finding peace of mind. I’m learning to have faith. I’m learning to trust in the Lord. I’m learning, my God, am I learning.

I couldn’t do it without my amazing support system. My parents are everything. My parents pay my school expenses, they help with bills I can’t make when I don’t get enough hours, Daddy takes care of all my car’s needs, Mom listens to me rant and ramble and rant some more. They are seriously amazing. And I honestly have no idea where I would be today if it weren’t for them.

I have a handful of friends that I can truly count on. And to someone who has lost so many people throughout life, it’s the most wonderful feeling. To have friends who know your strengths and your weaknesses. Friends who know when you need a hug or when you need to just be left alone. Friends who offer support and encouragement, but kick you in the butt when they think you need it. Friends who teach you patience and self-control. Friends who push you to be better, because they know you can do it. Friends who let you beat yourself up for a bit, then tell you to pull up your big girl panties and get on with life. These are my friends, and I couldn’t have ever asked for better ones.

I’ve been seeking the Lord more. I’ve been spending time each morning in devotions, reading His word and praying. I don’t want this to be another “phase” in my walk. Where I start devotions and going to church and then get busy and backslide out of it. Never again do I want to be of this world.

This is a time in my life where I’m content, and I’m happy. Nothing is going to take that away.

Ecclesiastes 3:1-8

Oh hey August, how did you get here so quickly?

It’s August 4th already. The time is flying by and in just three short weeks, I will be on my way to finishing up my final undergrad semester. I’m ready for it. I’m ready for a distraction. I’m ready to be busy again.

Apparently the reason I haven’t worked in weeks is because they transferred me to the wrong store. Thanks Victoria’s Secret. While I needed a break, I need the money. I have a sum of maybe $15 in both bank accounts, bills that are due and a rent check out for $700 that the money hasn’t been deposited for yet. But you know what? I’m trusting God. And as hard as that is to say, as I have very little trust in anyone, I know that I can trust Him. I know He is there for me. I have been provided for time and time again.

I have food in my pantry and fridge, enough gas to get me around for a few days and the best support system a girl could ask for. Honestly, I’m doing pretty great compared to a lot of people.

After these last few weeks of being lazy and relaxed, but also working out and getting things accomplished, I am so ready to get back to work. VS should be able to give me enough hours this semester and so it will be worth keeping. Plus, I’m close enough to this store that it isn’t a big deal to work later hours. I’m worried about my classes, as I’ve heard some of them are really difficult and time consuming, especially having to intern for 15-20 hours a week on top of them and homework and work. But I know I can do it. I always have made it through and I will again.

I’ve yet to decide what I’m doing after graduation. I’ve yet to decide if I’m sticking around another year or high-tailing it out of state. I wish I had more plans and more stability in my life. Maybe someday, yeah? For right now, I’m going to have to continue having trust and faith that things will work out and come through. I’ve never been very good at either, but I’m working on it.

I’m such a worrier. My mother told me just last week that I was “too uptight”. I, of course, denied it. But she’s right. I’m so uptight. I worry about things that I can’t control and when they work themselves out, I’m not thankful enough. I have this guard up that no one can break through and I think that it keeps me safe from others seeing how I feel, or who I am. But it doesn’t. It doesn’t keep me hidden. It doesn’t protect my heart from hurt and pain and disappointment.

There are going to disappointments and hurt in this life, and I know that. But that’s life. And feeling that hurt? It just means you’re alive and human.

 

“Never be ashamed of the scars that life left you. A scar means the hurt’s over, the wound’s closed, you endured the pain and God healed you.” – @prvrbs31_woman

Philippians 4: 8-13