31 Days of Hope, Africa

HOPE {Day 1} We NEED Hope

Where to begin?  This is day 1 of a month long journey of intentionally looking at hope and I discovered something today. When you set out to focus intentionally on one thing, suddenly your eyes are opened to it everywhere.  I feel like I could fill 31 days of blogging about hope just from the thoughts, ideas, Bible verses, stories and more that went through my head today alone.  I’m not sure where to start but I guess if you boil all of my pondering down from today, I land on this one thought:

 

We NEED hope.

 

I remember my Musana kids and my trip in Uganda where I saw people who had nothing but where still able to live a joyful life because they had… hope.  That’s kind of what “Musana” even means… sunshine or ray of hope.

 

I think about the upcoming trip to Haiti at First Trinity and continue to hear stories from the earthquake last year and even before the earthquake, the need is so great in that country.  People simply are holding on and are able to make it through each day because they have hope.

 

I ponder what it would have been like to be one of those miners stuck in the ground for 69 days.  I heard today that they were down there 17 days before they  had any communication with anyone above ground.  Hope for rescue, I’m sure, played a crucial role in their survival.  I loved hearing that the camp they set up for the families of the miners was called, Camp Hope. 

 

It would be easy to say “of course those people need hope; they’re from countries that are poor and they don’t have anything else.  But I’d even venture to say that we almost are worse off here in America when it comes to lacking hope.  We get caught so easily in Satan’s lies thinking that “things” and “stuff” and “power” and “control” and “relationships” and….. and…. and…. will give us what we need.  But when the things break, the stuff gets old, we lose power and control, and that significant other walks away, we get caught in despair. 

 

WE NEED HOPE.

 

And we need to find hope in something that will never move or break or leave.  One of my favorite passages is from Lamentations 3.  After 2.5 chapters of lamenting how horrible life is, the author suddenly switches his mindset and states: 

 

YET this I call to mind and therefore I have HOPE:

BECAUSE OF THE LORD’S GREAT LOVE WE ARE NOT CONSUMED!”

Consumed.  I feel that’s a good description of what it might be like to not have hope… consumed.  But praise be to God that in a world that seems to be losing hope faster than the speed of light, we do not have to be consumed.  For we can trust in the truth that God’s love for us is GREAT!  Even if you have nothing else to hold on to, hold on to this fact:

 

YOUR GOD LOVES YOU!

 

That fact doesn’t instantly make everything better, and there still may be challenges to face, but what great HOPE is found in knowing that there is a God who is greater than this mess of a world we lives in and HE LOVES US!

 

Rest in that hope!

Blessing

Joyfullyblessed … by the “Little” things

While I was in Africa, I was amazed over and over again at how God works even in the littlest things.  When I stopped to think about it, I realized that God wasn’t DOING more in Africa, but my eyes were just open to it because of the new situation.  Upon my arrival back to America (and for the 2 months since then), my prayer has remained that God would keep my eyes open to the amazing work he does each day that I would have passed by or counted as coincidence in the past.

 

I admit that sometimes it’s easy to dwell on what we DON’T see him at work in, but below are some of the “little things” that have blessed me recently.  I guess they’re not really “little”… they’re “God-sized”!  And I guess I shouldn’t be surprised by them… He’s “simply” answering prayers. 🙂

  • Homegrown fruit and vegetables from congregation members
  • Seeing the youth excited to share their experiences at NYG with the congregation 2 Sundays ago and the Women’s Bible Class this past Monday.
  • A package from my sister
  • Volleyball on Wednesday nights – an opportunity to meet new people and exercise all at the same time while having fun. 🙂
  • Getting to have lunch with my teammates each day
  • A congregation member commenting that they were praying for me the whole time I was presenting at the VBS reunion on Sunday
  • A classmate from school who has texted me every week for at least the past month asking how he can be praying for me and the things going on at my church
  • Numerous phone calls, texts, e-mails and notes from friends/family with encouraging words… often at the “perfect” time.
  • Moments of Laughter – like Addie imitating Sailor Jack saying “You’ve got to be kidding” or simply sharing joy with a friend
  • Just “happening” to read the PERFECT verse in the Bible at the PERFECT time

AND SO MUCH MORE!

 

God… open our eyes to see YOU… even in the “little” things. Amen!

 

And now I turn the question back to you, my beloved blog readers… what “little things” has God blessed YOU with/through recently?

First Trinity, NY Adventures

joyfullyblessed and made NEW!

There have been a lot of NEW things in my life lately.

 

The summer started by purchasing a NEW car (well actually it’s used, but new to me).

Then I headed off to many NEW experiences in a NEW country, Uganda, coming home with a completely NEW perspective on life. 

A week later I moved to a NEW city in NEW York into a NEW apartment in order to start a NEW job at a NEW church.

After about a week in this NEW place I headed off to NEW Orleans with the youth group for the National Youth Gathering building NEW relationships with the youth and adults (some of whom I hadn’t met before we even got to NEW Orleans). 

I’ve adapted to NEW schedules and NEW routines meeting more NEW people, daily it seems.  There are NEW grocery stores to get used to (or lost in) and while simple things like a NEW hair cut (which happened today) may not seem like a big deal, it’s still something NEW.

 

New isn’t necessarily good or bad… just new. And in the midst of the newness… it’s beautiful to see what has stayed the same.  Sure there are changes in relationships when moving across the country from my family and friends, but my new schedule has allowed me more time to keep in touch/reconnect with many of them.  The trip to New Orleans allowed me to see many family members and friends from all over the country, all over my past.  And most of all, God has remained the same!  Despite all the newness, the “old” doesn’t really go away… it seems just to be a part of an even bigger picture… a part of the process where God continues to make me new.  These “new” things combine with past things to make me who I am today.  

 

I can tell you all about the new experiences I’m having and post pictures of the new places I’ve been, but oh how I wish I could describe for you on here the way God is making ME new right now… from the inside, out. 

 

The whirlwind of all this newness has caused me to seek Jesus in beautiful NEW ways and it’s such a joy to be able to see him at work truly making my heart new… restoring me to Himself, again… and again…. and again.  I really do wish I could explain it to you, but it’s impossible.  Instead, I’ll just pray that you would experience the newness as well!  He proclaims in His World:

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation.  The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. (2 Cor 5:17) 

And check out his passage from Revelation 21

He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.  He who was seated on the throne said, "I am making everything new!" Then he said, "Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true."

Our God is making everything new and one day he will restore all of heaven and earth to it’s beautiful fullness, like he originally desired… no pain, no crying, no death… only JOY and abundant BLESSING!  Oh how I long for that day!

 

Whether everything seems NEW in your life right now or you feel like everything’s so old you need to get out the dust rags, I pray that you would be able to experience a newness found only in a Christ… a newness that one day, will NEVER fade!

Africa, Bekah's Heart

Joyfullyblessed… by Joyce

God tells us in Psalm 116:15  “Precious in the sight of the LORD is the death of his faithful ones.” 

Joyce truly was precious in the sight of many people here on earth, and today, heaven gained one of the most beautiful young woman I’ve ever met. She is no longer suffering from the many illnesses that attacked her body and for that I am truly JOYFULLYBLESSED.  I was blessed to have met you, Beautiful Joyce.  You will be missed.

JOYCE