"I have loved you with an everlasting love; I have drawn you in with loving-kindness. I will build you up again and you will be rebuilt...and go out to dance with the joyful." - Jeremiah 31: 3-4

Monday, August 31, 2009

Kenya tomorrow!

Well, the time has come. After a month of anticipation and preparation, I'm going back to Kenya for a three month internship with Transformed International. My plane takes off tomorrow at 6:15pm for London where I'll meet up with most of the other interns and people on the fall team for TI. We'll arrive in Nairobi, Kenya on Wednesday night. Then comes an eight hour bus ride from Nairobi to Kitale. After all the travel, I'll finally be back in the place that I found myself... where I discovered who I really am, what I love to do and who I desire to be.

I'll be honest and say that I am a little nervous. It's not something you do every day... live in a third world country in Africa for three months. I know it's what I'm meant to be doing and it's what I want to be doing, but is it ever what I thought I'd be doing? Not at all.

Six months ago, if you asked me what I'd be doing right now, on this day, I'd say that I would be freshly moved into an apartment on top of a sandwhich shop on Main Street in Kutztown. I would be starting classes tomorrow and most likely be... tired... from the night before. Six months ago, if you told me I would be spending an entire semesters worth of time in Kenya, I would have told you that I wish that could be true but that I already signed a lease for my apartment and already planned out my classes for the semester so there's no way I'll be going to Africa. The truth is though that I never saw myself living in that apartment. I couldn't imagine it in the way that my roommates were imaging it. I wasn't excited about it. A part of me that I never talked about was dreading it, fearing it, and wishing I could avoid it all together. I knew I would never be happy at Kutztown, living the way I was living.

The best thing that ever happened to me was also the worst.

It provided me with a way out. It provided me with a way back to God and ultimately back to happiness. It destroyed me. It broke me. It SAVED me.

Now here I am, six months later, packed and ready to go to Kenya for three months. Packed and ready for my life to change even more. Packed and ready for an experience of a lifetime!

The things that got me to this place were not pretty. I wandered a long time in the darkness before I could get here and it took the biggest regret of my life to launch me back into the arms of Jesus. I'm not proud of who I was or how I acted, but I am proud of who I am and what I'm now doing. I'm not the same person I was six months ago. I know that's hard for some people to understand or believe and I hope that the people I hurt can forgive me for what I did to them. I was wrong. I was foolish. I was selfish. And I'm so glad to be as far away from my old life as possible.

So... now it's time to stop procrastinating and get some last minute things done!

I'll be keeping up with my blog while I'm in Kenya so keep checking back for updates!! :)

Sunday, August 23, 2009

I wouldn't have it any other way.

There's one thing that God has been pounding into my heart the past few weeks... and that's to love Him with EVERYTHING! Wholeheartedly, fully, completely, with my whole life. I knew He was trying to get me to understand what that meant but I just wasn't really grasping the concept. It was being thrown at me in books, music, teachings... but still, I couldn't understand what it meant to live your life 100% for Jesus.

Today, I was reading a book called "Crazy Love" by Francis Chan about being overwhelmed by a relentless God who loves us SO much. In a chapter titled 'profile of the lukewarm' he explains how to not be a "lukewarm Christian" and how to do just what God has been trying to get me to do... love Him fully. It was starting to sink in finally and then I read something that really made it click. The author says that when he was in high school he seriously considered joining the Marines after seeing all of those "the few, the proud, the Marines" commercials. He goes on to say that what turned him off to this idea was that in those advertisements, everyone was always running and he hates to run. So obviously, his plan of possibly joining the Marines ended. He didn't bother to enlist, get to boot camp and ask if they could please alter the rules for him so he could do fewer push-ups and be allowed to run less than everyone else. He knew that it would have been stupid and pointless because when you join the Marines, you do what they say and if you don't like it then you shouldn't have joined in the first place because you obviously weren't ready to make that commitment. He explains that this concept should cross over into our thinking about Christian life. Jesus didn't say to us, "Become a Christian and I'll let you do whatever you'd like. I won't push you to do anything outside of your comfort zone. It'll be smooth sailing and you'll get awesome rewards just for saying you believe in me." NO! He said, "Take up your cross and follow me." We can't join the Marines, or make a whole-hearted decision to follow Jesus without having to do any work. Neither of those things are promised to be easy. I know a Marine who would call me at night, totally exhausted after a long day of seriously tough training. He'd say how much it sucked and would throw in a few choice words to describe the details of his day. But whenever I would ask him if he was happy about his decision to join the Marines, I ALWAYS got a response like this.. "Oh yeah, I love it! I wouldn't want to be doing anything else."

The same should be said about Christian living... "I love it! I wouldn't want to be doing anything else! No matter how hard it gets, no matter how discouraging it can be at times, no matter how tiring some days can be.. I wouldn't want to be living any other way!" I just love that! I love that Jesus didn't promise us butterflies and rainbows when we choose to believe and trust in him. That would be a pretty boring life, wouldn't it? Everything perfect all the time... no thanks. I like a little adventure. I enjoy disappointments because that forces me to seek out God even more. He wants us to experience His glory and awesome power. If our lives were perfect, how would we ever know the glory of God? So bring on the three mile runs and ten mile marches to test my endurance, bring on the sit-ups and pull-ups to test my strength, bring on the drill instructors yelling in my face telling me what I'm doing wrong... because I love this life and I wouldn't have it any other way!

Sunday, August 16, 2009

I'm missing the kids a lot today. I don't think I've ever felt joy in such abundance in any place other than when surrounded by the children of Kenya.
I'm feeling incredibly full today though and I think that God's really doing something amazing. One of my major flaws in my walk with Christ is my need to plan and understand what's going on... but lately I'm starting to enjoy letting go of all that and giving it to God. I have no idea what's going to happen when I go back to Kenya and that's strangely comforting. Just knowing that right now, in this moment, I'm doing what I'm meant to do is awesome and it's something that I haven't felt in a very long time.
I think that so many people are afraid to take that extra step in faith and fully commit yourself to God's will because they think that they'll have to give up so much of what they think makes them happy in life. What they don't realize is that - yes, things will be taken out of your life but SO MUCH MORE will be put in and it will all be GOOD things and things that will make you happy in ways you couldn't have even imagined before. Whatever is taken out of your life by Jesus is not something that you will miss. It's things that kept you away from Him and it's things that were put in your life by the enemy to lead you astray in one way or another. I hit rock bottom in my life not too long ago and was as far from God as I had ever been and in one week my life changed. One weekend I was living my way and the next weekend I was sitting in a room with a group of people who shared my dream in going to Kenya and finally, after three years of my way, I felt myself living in God's way and it was the best feeling I've ever felt.
I can't wait to get back to Kenya and live my life the way God planned.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

For I know the plans I have for you...

Have you ever heard news that just about shattered your world? All the sudden everything you had planned, everything you had hoped for is destroyed in a matter of minutes? The life you thought you would live, the life you thought God wanted you to live is no more? It could be anything... a death, losing a job, a pregnancy, a betrayal, an act of sin... but whatever it is, it turns your life upside down and you feel like nothing you could have done would have prepared you for this. I think that it's in those times, through those things, that God truly wants us to hear Him say "your plans are not my plans and my plans are so much better! Trust me!" Jeremiah 29:11 says that He knows the plans for us, plans to prosper us and keep us safe and give us HOPE and a FUTURE. So many times, I try to convince myself that my plans are totally God's plans and when they don't work out, I'm confused because I can't understand how I could have been so wrong. Then I hear Him say "they weren't ever my plans, they were all yours," and I'm struck with conviction as I realize that OF COURSE they were my plans all along, it was all what I wanted and I didn't even stop to think that it might not be what God had planned.
I think that a lot of us get into the habit of assuming that every "good" plan we make for our lives is a part of God's plan. We think that just because no harm could come from this thing that we want that God must want it for us too. We couldn't be more wrong! Recently, some news put a little kink into my plans. Although I know that the ultimate plan is God's because it's been revealed to me in many ways after years and years of prayer, some of the details of this plan have been greatly and extremely altered in ways that I didn't even think to consider. My life is no longer looking the way I thought it would and although I can't help but be slightly dissapointed and a bit upset, I know that everything will work out perfectly and my life will be more properous than I could have ever dreamed. I'm excited for what I don't even know yet! I'm excited to see how God will turn this into His perfect will for me! It's only by His grace and power that I am where I am today and I would be foolish to ever doubt that His hand is in my life and that He is protecting and guiding me every day. So if ever you find yourself wondering how God could have let something happen to you... remember, His plans are ALWAYS good and He is ALWAYS with you.

22(ish) days until Kenya!

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Home is where the heart is... but where is home?

Okay, it's gone from missing Kenya.. to needing Kenya in a matter of days. I love The United States, I really do but there's just something about it that doesn't sit right with me since I've been back. There's something missing from this country that doesn't make it feel like home anymore. It's like I left a piece of myself in Kenya and I won't feel whole again until I'm back there. Maybe all this is just coming from the weird few days I've been having and the serious tests of faith I'm being put through but maybe I really just need to be in Kenya at this point in my life. I felt so at peace while I was there and I crave that here at home, but I can't seem to find it anywhere.

On September 1st, I leave for Kenya. On November 30th, I leave for The United States. I pray that at some time between those two dates, I figure out which place really has my heart.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Adjusting to life at home in America

I've been home for almost a week now and it's getting harder every day. I miss Kenya. I miss the kids. I miss the friends I made there. I miss the landscapes and the sunrises. I miss the fellowship I had every morning. I miss the smells (surprisingly). And I miss Daniel's coffee making skills.

I'll be going back on September 1st and spending the following three months as an intern for Transformed International... growing in faith, loving the people and being a light in the darkness. I'll be with a whole new group of people and although I'll miss my original "Kenya team," I know that this new team will be awesome and I can't wait to get to know them all. I learned a lot during my two weeks in Africa but I think that the thing I will hold on to most and carry with me in life is the importance of fellowship and friendships in Christ. I look forward to becoming even closer with my original Kenya team from Providence and also the new friendships that I'll develop with the other interns and team members in the fall.

I'd love to write more but I'm running a little empty on thoughts at the moment. I'll write more about the last few days of our trip and about adjusting to life back at home in the next couple weeks.

God Bless <3