Thoughts on Singleness: Response to a Friend’s Blog

My friend, and it seems friends, have been posting lately about singleness and what that looks like, not just on a macro-level, but more on the day-to-day moments of how to live with unfulfilled desires.

I have been having writer’s block when it comes to the blog, but when I read Annie’s blog yesterday, she posed a great question that I would like to take a moment and reply from my experience. Again, please note that what I would like to share is my journey, with its ups and downs, about being single and some of the circumstances surrounding my decisions. So here is Annie’s question:

How can I trust God and hope again in the midst of my heart being shattered by unfulfilled dreams and life plans?

Hi, my name is Shelly…actually Michelle, but Shelly is short for Michelle and practically no one knows me by Michelle any more except my dad and brother. Oh and yes, I’m 30 and single. When I say single, I mean that I can count on one hand how many dates I have been on in my entire life and can count on 1 finger any relationships I have had in that span of time. Yes, that is what I mean by single…in 30 years. So, I hope that whatever I share may carry some weight with it because I have always felt like “the friend” of the girls who always date and get married and I have cycled through many seasons of “what’s wrong with me” moments. There’s a great song on the Broadway musical sound track of Wicked that I (embarrassed to admit) have cried over because I have deeply resonated with the words. It’s called, “I’m Not that Girl”, where Elphaba, the green witch, has always been the odd and ridiculed girl that obviously no guy would want. Obviously, there is a “type”, we believe, as women and even as Christian women, that Christian men desire and we cannot and are not that girl. And so the cycles of confusion, heartache, defeat, hardness of heart, depression and even pride can set upon us.

I have definitely been there. And on my journey with the Lord, I am learning much. There is not enough space for me to write out my journey but I hope to shed some light on what I am doing and have learned to do, because truth be told, it is not easy.

So, how have I learned to trust God and hope again in the midst of my heart being shattered by unfulfilled dreams and life plans?

First lesson I have learned along the way is that I must always be open with God. Notice I did not say, pick-up the phone and ask your friends to tell you why you are deserving of a relationship and how men are just dumb. No. Notice I did not even say, pick-up your Bible (albeit, it is very important to do so) so you can read a passage about barren wilderness and “he who finds a wife finds a good thing”, and thus drown yourself in your woes. No. I have learned I am in relationship with Him and what He desires in our relationship is authenticity of my heart. As soon as my willingness to be open and vulnerable starts shutting down, my walls start going up. Is it any wonder then why it is harder to hear the Lord? Well, more often than not, I have shut Him out because of my hurts and I can easily believe the line of reasoning, since He is in control of my days, He is willingly inflicting singleness on me.

Instead, since Jesus already knows our thoughts before we speak them (Psalm 139), and it is what makes Him so wonderful, I start sharing, “Lord, you already know what is on my heart. You care about even this, even when I feel like we’ve talked, prayed, cried over this for the last 10 years…so I come, yet again…”

In my honesty, I let Him know just how I feel. I let Him know how a certain situation made me feel, what someone’s comment made me think, etc. I remind Him (often), “Lord, remember that I am dust!” Sometimes I am mad as a hornet and I just want to rant; other times I am a little girl crawling into His lap because it all just hurts; and still other times, there are not words and I tell Him that – but yet, I make it a point to still come and open up.

Second lesson I’m learning is to keep proper perspective, despite how I feel. Remember ladies, I am not saying this as a gal who got married at twenty and is telling you, “have proper perspective!” I would LOVE to sit down with that youngin’ and…well…give her a big ol’ hug : ) Perspective is very important, especially when well-meaning people say things that hurt rather than help. So, because I have heard quite a few of these, I would like to add proper perspective to a couple frequent sayings we hear:

  • The grass is always greener on the other side – married people love being married!. Truth be told, as singles, it is easy to think it is. I believe partially what God is working out in us in as we battle with the reality and feelings that arise in singleness, is a greater contentment and peace as Jesus satisfies very real desires. As a single woman, I have to remember it is not always easier being married! My friend (who was single at the time and 39, mind you) said it to me this way and I LOVE IT: The grass may be greener on the other side, but ya gotta cut that grass too! Oh how true it is! Just like Paul says, marriage will come with its own responsibilities and cares that could easily make the married woman look back to the greener grass of being single. Some single’s may say, “well I would love to cut that grass any day over my own!” And to them I would say, “yeah, from here you would!” TRUST me, I have a lot of married friends who remind me what a gift I have to be completely focused on the Lord and have more “freedom” with my time. They too can look at my yard, longingly, and forget this yard needs constant tending just as I look over the fence at theirs longingly as well.
  • When you work on (fill in the blank with whatever you’ve been told), then you are ready for marriage. Ok, this one gets my goat. I’m just being honest. And I wish I could sit down with every single woman and hold her precious face and say this, “God is no respecter of persons”. The lie that women easily believe is a lie of legalism. If I learn to cook, then I can get married. If I learn to keep a reign on my tongue, then I’m ready for marriage. If I lose weight, then my prince will see me! If I start a ministry or if I become more godly or sing like Brooke Fraser or dress like so and so….then I will be ready for marriage!! Aha! So we work so hard at fixing ourselves and when we’ve “been perfected” and have a pretty bow around our size 4 waist, singing with our best Brooke Fraser voice, “Love is Waiting! Now COME!”, and it doesn’t, we are left shattered by the broken formula, trying to figure out why A + B didn’t equal C and then trying to find the perfect “B” for the equation, or A or maybe it was a C that we never thought about… This inevitably leaves us feeling even more at loss and more of a hot-mess then when we began!!! Can I just say something really true…and I think my married friends would willingly AMEN me…

Hot-messes get married ALL THE TIME. Just because your friend gets married or starts dating, does not necessarily mean they have “arrived” to some secret place and until we as a single woman find that secret place, then we’re ready for marriage. How do I know this? My dating/engaged/married friends still struggle with everything that I as a single woman struggle with. The fact of the matter, we are still on a journey of sanctification until we are with the Lord and your dating status DOES not say “I’ve arrived!”.

Please hear me here too, I am not saying not to allow God to work on you, your heart, your character, etc. If you are staying near the Lord, this should be happening as He exposes areas of your life that need realigning, pruning, and cleansing. But it is for more than just meeting “the one”; it is so much more about being more like the Holy One.

Third lesson I am (continually) learning is the true character and nature of God. If being single has taught me one thing, it is that I do not see and believe God for who He really is. In the midst of my heartache, fears, insecurities and doubts I am more likely to believe in a heartless, selfish, vindictive and a masochistic god. Yes. Don’t believe me? Next time those feelings rise up, take inventory of how you see God and what is gushing out of your heart. We may think we believe/see God a certain way, but out of the overflow of our hearts we convey what we actually believe. That is why we put up walls between our hearts and His Words. He has not changed, but our hearts have.

How do I combat this? As I stay open to Him and share what is really on my heart, keep proper perspective of what is really true (more than just the 2 perspective statements I made), then lesson 3 is really the gem in it all. I begin to see God for who He is – the same God who did not spare His own Son but gave Him up for me; the same God who pursued me in the bondages of sin with a steadfast love and wonderfully to this day has not relented His passionate pursuit; the same God who has been so involved in every detail of my life as it is woven into the tapestry of redemptive History; the same God who still “comforts all who mourn and provides for those who grieve”, bestowing beauty for ashes, praise for our heaviness; who rises up off His throne and comes down to us…holds our tears in a bowl…pulls us out of the pit…bestows new mercies and grace for this day…and His track record of having not failed me is still flawless.

No, I may not be dating or have even a prospect on the horizon. But the hope I have in the midst of hopes deferred and every vile lie that Satan loves to capitalize on is that, in turn, I am falling more in love with the realness of Jesus and a greater realization of how He longs for me to see Him is taking place. When something is not met in us or when something is taken from us, we – just like children – can take it very personally. Whether single or married, widowed or not able to have kids, our faith – which is more precious than gold – is being refined in these very moments. And what makes our faith more precious than gold? That very word ‘faith’ means, “firm persuasion regarding the trustworthiness of one’s character”. I believe God, in His goodness allows these seemingly unanswered prayers to get to the root of and lovingly expose what in our hearts we say/believe God to be. When I am confronted with His faithful character towards me this far in my life, my heart is filled with HOPE and peace to confidently hold onto the promises as I journey another day with Him~

Joe’s First Sermon

I have been waiting to be able to share the incredible words shared by Joe Ringle from his wife, Christen Ringle’s, memorial service. No, I don’t like per-se the circumstances surrounding this message but to know that we as Christians “do not grieve as one without hope“, makes a funeral service into a Celebration Service. It does not mean there are no tears, are no difficulties and pain. Far from the Truth. That’s what is incredible about salvation through Jesus Christ alone; Jesus was fully God and fully man, yet Jesus Christ alone was without sin. He understands our weak nature as humans and that is why the sufficiency of His grace is all the more incredible. His grace is not of this earth, if I can try to describe it this way, so as to show that not one person can in effect “keep it together” when tragedies and suffering in this life come. And come they will. It also proves that we are not meant to do this life alone and that was NEVER the original design.

So, how can a man preach a message at his own wife’s funeral? It is only by the grace of Jesus. I hope you can take the time to listen and share with others the all surpassing power of a real and ever-present God, in the midst of devastating loss.

Joe’s First Sermon

Francis Chan Message

I don’t even know where to begin, so I won’t just yet and instead will post the link to Chan’s message last night at Founder’s Week. I will say this though, the message was incredibly timely, as God has been stirring these very things in my heart for some time. I thank God for his boldness to preach and admonish the Church. May we actually look and act like it.

Please listen. Right now ūüôā

Francis Chan/Founder’s Week¬† ¬†<—– click on link

Mama Gump Was Right…

“My momma always said you can tell a lot about a person by their shoes, where they go, where they’ve been. I’ve worn lots of shoes, I bet if I think about it real hard I can remember my first pair of shoes.” – Forrest Gump

I was cleaning up my room and hanging my shoes on the shoe rack that hangs on the back of my bedroom door. I wanted them off the floor because they seemed to be scattered all about and I was tired of coming up one shoe short! Once I finally looked at the array of shoes hanging, I had to laugh. Based on what I saw before me on my shoe rack, not only did it make me laugh, but it also made me realize how true Mama Gump’s words were – that you can tell a lot about a person by their shoes! Where they go…where they been…

Here is my shoe rack!

My shoes range from heels (that I pretty much only wear for church), to flats (what I wear to church, before I change into heels), to running, cycling and rock climbing shoes (yes, I hang these with the other “important shoes”). And in between all of these are the comfy-casual-everyday shoes and of course, my beloved Chaco sandals!!

Most of these shoes have stories behind them, from how they were purchased and how long I looked for the best sale online. Some of them have ventured to different states, different countries and climbed various mountains. Some I’ve purchased from the thrift store (please don’t be grossed-out…sometimes you gotta make do with what you have!) and some were even given to me from friends as hand-me-downs (I love when friends clean out their closets and you get to inherit their stuff). It’s crazy to me to think YES, our shoes can say a lot about us!

I chose 2 of my faves and decided to write a blurp about them, in hopes, if ANY willing soul is as cheesey as me, to write about a pair of their own (or 2 or 3). Take a picture if you can or just describe what kind of shoe, what history with them and any other information you’d like to share : ) I think this could be fun, and maybe we’ll find out what our shoes may say about us or the places we’ve been…

Pair #1

Chaco Z2 sandal

This is what I love about these sandals – bought them when I lived in Wyoming back in 2003 (and still wear ’em), wore them a ton while I worked on a ranch out there and did a hike up the Teton trail that led to a beautiful hidden lake, just shy of the summit. Can’t remember the name of the trail though…but it was beautiful! Wyoming holds a special place in my heart for MANY reasons and it was a wonderful season before I moved to Chicago, so these sandals make me think on that time. These sandals have traveled with me out west, back to the east, and are in the Midwest now. I’ve been through Guatemala, Honduras and played with the precious children in Malawi, Africa. Oh the places these sandals have been. My only warning regarding these: ¬†be careful wearing them too much in the sun or you’ll get a tan line in the shape of a Z on the top of your foot! (wouldn’t recommend wearing these before standing in a wedding…learned that the hard way)

Pair #2

Beloved cowboy boots

These shoes take me to a happy place…mmmm. Yes, I live in Chicago and yes, I bought them while living in Chicago but I’ve always loved cowboy boots. When I was a little girl, my mom would put my hair in pig-tails, with a denim skirt and whatever shirt I could find. I would then ROCK the cowboy boots, which were usually on the wrong feet and the toes pointed out to alert my mother and she’d have to fix them, every time. Thankfully, I have figured out all that by now : ) and can freely adore these shoes. I think they can spruce up any casual outfit and I absolutely love wearing them with dark flare jeans. I also enjoy wearing them when playing guitar for Children’s Church, so I can stay away from high-heels since there’s just enough of a heel to feel “dressy”. Plus, ¬†when you’re jumping around like crazy, it’s important to stay as close to the ground as possible : ) and a cowboy boot heel isn’t too much! Who knows, maybe one day I can sneak them under a fancy white dress as I walk down an aisle…that would be bliss!

So if your shoes could say something about you, I wonder what they’d say?

New Year, New Beginnings, New Perspective

I know it’s been so long since my last post and I must admit, it’s not that I have writer’s block but the problem is that I have so much in my heart and I’m finding it quite difficult to know where to start.

But I will try…

The last 7 months, God has been doing a “new thing” in me. It’s been a series of internal battles – the ones of the mind/heart – and they’ve kept me clueless at times but most assuredly, kept me near Him. Try as I may, I have earnestly tried putting all the pieces of the “why’s” and “how’s” and the “what the??!!” together and have only landed in the same place, over and over and over again….

In His grace and His presence. 

I have far more questions than answers, far more moments of silence than clarity and far more greater depths of peace and joy in the moments of each day. I cannot get into all that’s been going on, but I know I’m not the only one who feels the strain and beauty of this life. Gathered into this season more recently, is the passing of one of my best friends, Christen Ringle. My eyes well with tears typing that, because never would I have thought those words would be on this blog. Yet even in the midst of ¬†all this, there again is that indescribable peace.¬†

It’s a new season – I Am doing a new thing ~

This is what God spoke to my heart just before the new year and I believe He’s awakening my soul to greater places of grace and peace.

With this new year and the new thing being done on the inside, there’s been a change in my perspective and hence, the change in title of my blog: Pieces of the ¬†Mosaic. See, I have the greatest propensity to always dream big, look down the road of all the could-be’s and what-if’s and on and on I go into la-la-land. That’s not a terrible characteristic, I’m learning! But what’s problematic for me, and I’m sure for many others out there like me, is that I miss the beauty of the small things in life. I’m so busy looking down the road, that I forget what’s under my feet today. And the only way to enjoy what’s down that road, one needs to take time to savor what’s going on today. I’m a tele-porter at heart…”Beam me forward, Scottie!” I’m learning, it’s not just savoring the steps of each day, but the strength to enable that step, the will to move about and the trust to plant firmly one sole after another in this soil of life. I know this must sound really ridiculous but seeing life this way is doing a couple things: 1- it’s making me slow down, be still when necessary, not rush the process and SAVOR the moments within a moment of time; 2 – developing a deeper place of gratitude in my heart for each small grace given.

And so, Mosaic is a beautiful theme to not just a new year, but hopefully, a new outlook on life in general. I believe God takes the small and sometimes fractured pieces of life and is in the process of wonderfully, carefully, perfectly and beautifully creating something that truly cannot be captured in one still frame.

He’s doing it in my life. He’s doing it in yours. And if that doesn’t make one’s head spin a bit, He’s been doing it since the foundation of the earth.

  • The smallest pieces of our lives matter
  • You matter
  • I matter
  • Each breath, tear, joy, desire, longing, stillness matter
  • Each piece fills one moment and develops into a season and continues this Mosaic…the question is, will we savor the work of His hands? Will we let God have complete control of our life, even when we cannot see all that’s at work?

My desire is to savor the small and to enjoy the journey, for it is all leading to a greater crescendo…and I want to take in every moment…piece by piece…grace by grace, for today may be all I have to relish~

It’s About Dog-gone Time!!

I KNOW!!! Sheesh!

Please ¬†click on the link ¬†and enjoy these WAY over-due photos AND videos from my trip to Tanzania/Malawi Africa! I hope they tell somewhat of the story…but, to hear them all, we seriously need a coffee date : )

If you would like any information on how to support an orphan from Project 1:27 orphanage, let me know and I can send you a brochure ASAP! 

(click this link below…)

More than a Mountain

This is How it Feels to Be DEBT FREE!

I NEVER thought this day would come, and OH how I want to run through the streets of Chicago, declaring the goodness, faithfulness and timeliness of TODAY. 

Today, by God’s provision and goodness, I PAID OFF THE LAST OF MY DEBT!!!

HALLELUJAH!!!

Anyone who knows me, knows what a dog-gone burden these last four and a half years have been with debt. I have shed SO many tears over the penny-pinching and weight of it all. I even remember last summer, balling with my roommate in her car because the weight of debt just hung over me like a cloud. According to my calculations then, it should have taken me ANOTHER 3 years to get out…

“With my God I can scale a wall” … “Those who go out weeping, will reap with songs of JOY”

What’s more important is what I learned in the process. These are just some of the things I learned and for them all (and even what I don’t even realize that I’ve quite learned) I am SO thankful!

* My money is not mine to do whatever I please. It comes from God and essentially all belongs to Him. I learned to ask Him about purchases and how I should spend the money He’s given.

* It is WAY better to give than to receive! When I am actually not spending more on me, there is more to give away or, crazy thought, put towards debt! Imagine that…

* Watching how I spend the money that I’ve been entrusted with helps me to distinguish between needs and wants, what can wait and what I can get over and live without.

* God showed me in this process how I would put a lot of security in how I dressed and what people thought of me. Please don’t think I’m saying God wants us to wear paper bags and be dirty, but I learned that He wants us to be less “me focused” and more secure in who He says we are. That’s being clothed with beauty that this world does not have a clue about!

* One of the greatest things I’ve learned – GOD GIVES US INCREDIBLE GIFTS!! Wow, does He ever! I have testimony after testimony of when I had nothing, He lavished me with things above and beyond what I could have ever purchased or saved for (a FREE trip to Colorado, in the mountains, stayed at a Beautiful ranch…need I say more??!)

* Another lesson I so cherish from this time is how to deeply trust and abide in Christ. Money is a real root of worry and anxiety in us all – that’s why we worry when the savings account is low, or 401K’s seem insufficient for retirement or what we will wear and eat. Rarely is it really, “In God we trust” (funny how that’s written on our bills…) but at the root of it if we’re honest it goes more like, “In the money I see or can budget or save, I can then trust in God”. Man, God showed me how ALL of that is just false security and can be taken away in an instant (which it was!) AND I’m grateful. It created a greater leaning, trust and surrender of what I put my hope in.

* A little sure can go a lot farther than we think, and when coupled with prayer to a gracious God, it can go a hundred times farther!

* I want gratification NOW and I DON’T LIKE TO WAIT. Yeah, this reaaallllyy surfaced in my heart and funny thing is, God has allll the time in the world to help us get beyond ourselves : D, so better to learn sooner than drag it out!

Thank you Lord…may I never forget these truths and help me to continue in them! Honestly, one of my biggest fears is that I’ll go buck-wild on a shopping spree or something — haha! Hey, just being honest ūüôā

To all those who are chipping away at their debt with what seems to be the smallest hammer, I just want to encourage y’all to KEEP CHIPPING AWAY. God will bring the increase and teach you valuable and priceless lessons along the way. And when you get discouraged because you see others doing what you wish you could do, I KNOW it totally stinks in the moment, but press into believing that as you wait on God, something greater is at work then giving in to the temporary lures. He truly rewards those who diligently seek Him with greater treasures that cannot be bought.

My heart rejoices in the LORD; in the LORD my horn is lifted high. My mouth boasts over my enemies, for I delight in your deliverance. There is no one holy like the LORD; there is no one besides you; there is no Rock like our God!! ~ 1 Samuel 2:1, 2

Hannah’s praise is mine today!!! THANK YOU LORD!

I Can’t Wait Any Longer…MALAWI

Sorry…it just can’t wait. I JUST can’t wait. This post may seem all over the place, but there is so much stirring in my heart as of late…

I have to jump to the tug of my heart for my trip. I know I am supposed have my summit story here in this very blog entry – but really and truly what I have woken up to, practically every day since I’ve been back is just this…

Beautiful Lucy

And this…

Dafter with a sweet headband I got him

And most certainly, this…

Esnat and I, the beautiful young lady I sponsor

It’s the faces of these incredible and beautiful children from Malawi, Africa that I cannot get out of my mind and my heart. I wake up with them running through my head – the songs we’d sing, the dances we’d dance and just remembering how much joy they brought to my heart.

Please permit me to tell you about the growing passion of my heart: the Orphans.

We finally landed in Malawi, Africa, after flying from ¬†Dar Salam to Nairobi, then Nairobi to Lilongwe airport. Even after such an exhausting schedule having come right off the mountain, we were not quite at the orphanage in Malawi. To get to Far and Wide Children’s Home, we still had a 5 hour car ride ahead of us. And of course, when you’re ever overseas, what is supposed to be an hour is more so equivocal to 2, thus our car ride actually ended up being about 11 hours long! And what is driving around overseas without the experience of sheer terror as well? Let’s just say, we PRAYED our way to the orphanage and by God’s grace, made it alive!

But this wasn’t your ordinary trip to the orphanage. We were driving down a paved, although un-lit, road for about 6 hours in a crazy rain storm. Finally, and most abrubtly, we took a sharp left turn onto a dirt road. We all finally sighed¬†sensing some relief, thinking we must be nearing the orphanage. But once the truck gained a bit more speed on the dirt road, we soon began to realize there was still¬†a ways to go. Sure enough, we arrived at Far & Wide around 1am – never having met up again with a paved road until we were to leave for the U.S.

I think that was one of the most astounding things from my time in Malawi — sensing all the more God’s incredible LOVE for the children and orphans of this world. I’m pretty sure we were close to “No-where” Africa, but yet God raised up a man from a local village there (near Magowi), trained him in His Word, put it on Pastor Duncan’s heart to start an orphanage, church plant 4 other churches AND start a women’s shelter. Did I mention, he’s 35 years old? YEP! (And yes ladies, he is married…I totally know what y’all were thinking!). And this village I speak of — ENTRENCHED in witch-craft and dark magics. As if that’s not incredible enough, Pastor Duncan began raising up other young men from his village and discipled them. Now these men are not only pouring into this land and are MIGHTY men of God, but they are evangelizing in that remote area and pouring into the children at Far & Wide. Truly, they are raising up an army of Christ followers!

GOD DOES NOT FORGET THE ORPHANS — this was so very clear to me. He will raise people up locally and from around the world to fulfill His mandate to feed and clothe them.

And I’ll tell you what…I cannot forget them either. It’s like they are stamped on my heart, their faces engraved in my mind and their names just bring me to tears. Their stories will cut you to the heart and make you SO thankful for every meal, every shopping spree, every fight you ever had with your mom or dad, brother or sister. Their smiles are like the sun that cuts through the darkest rain clouds. Their laughter reminds you there is always hope…

There’s a song called, “He Knows My Name”, by Tommy Walker¬†¬†and he wrote it because of an orphaned boy he met on a missions trip. Tommy met the boy one day and a few days later, he ran into the young boy again. The little boy asked, “Do you remember my name?” and Tommy replied by saying “Yes Jerry, I remember your name”. Tommy said that the little boys face lit-up and was filled with such joy that this man remembered his name ,¬†for he had no father or mother who ever called him by it. Tommy was broken by this encounter and from it came not only ministry to orphans, but a song that I believe was being sung over every child while we were in Malawi.

My time with the kids was not enough. Even though we had such a wonderful time singing with them, teaching stories out of the Bible and re-enacting them, but you just want more. The most precious time spent with them was just holding them. Every night, I would hear my name whispered through the door. I would go out and find Esnat with a few other of the older girls sitting and chatting and desiring to spend time with me.¬†¬†Esnat would sit so close to me, trying to hold my hand, always looking into my eyes because I don’t think she was quite used to seeing blue eyes staring back at her. ¬†She let me love on her as though I were her mom and I could feel such desires in my heart welling up in me. We all laughed into the night as we tried learning the language of the other. I sounded absolutely ridiculous trying to mimic their words! But they didn’t seem to care. We also sang our favorite songs and took photos with my cell phone. I showed them pictures of my family from a photo album I brought with me. They asked, “Where is your mudder” (that’s how they pronounced mother). I shared with them how my mom died when I was 21 because she was sick. All the girls sitting there were shocked and couldn’t believe what I just told them. Then they all began to share, one after the other about how their mothers, fathers and grandparents had all died. It was interesting too, that once I shared my mom’s story and how I don’t live with my family, the girls drew even closer to me. It’s like they trusted me all the more because in some small measure, I knew the pain of losing a parent and not having family nearby. I knew it was very different but I was so thankful that the Lord bridged a gaping hole for us all. Hearing their stories just tore me to pieces! I didn’t want to go to bed that night, but they had school and I had to make sure (how motherly of me!) that they were rested and ready.

There are SO many stories of God’s faithfulness to all these children I had a chance to spend time with. I was so grateful but I’ll be honest, I’m still so very burdened for them. In my heart, I’m encouraged that they do have a Father in heaven who is seeking them and pursuing them, but I know there’s more I can do…and as the Body of Christ, more we can do.

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No One Else For Me…

Blanket, tumbler of coffee, guitar, Bible, journal and another sunrise. Another wonderful anniversary to spend with You and delight in all your goodness and faithfulness. There is no where else I’d rather be and no one else I’d rather share this morning with, than You. I love You more than my words can express – you fill my heart with a greater joy…thank you. Thank you for saving me and walking with me all these years – as you held me and molded me, loved me and showed me with greater clarity how deep your love runs. I am forever ruined and ravished, counting all things as loss knowing that I’ve gained everything back in You. Your resurrection changed my life. I love you more than mere words can convey – thank you for another anniversary in You. I look forward to many many more, and rejoicing even more so than the previous year – until I see you face to face and no more tears will be shed. Joy unspeakable and full of glory. How I love you so…thank you for your Best now and what’s to come~

~I am my Beloved’s and my Beloved is mine~

Miracle on the Mountain: Kili Day…I Lost Count!

“MIRACLE on the MOUNTAIN was the title of my journal entry that night when I arrived back into my tent – in awe and filled with joy in our LIVING and ACTIVE God.

KIBOZERS didn’t even begin to describe the wonder that flooded my heart. I couldn’t help but just beam – from ear to ear – declaring how awesome my God is. I could barely even fall asleep in my single-occupancy tent, so I journaled the miracle I just witnessed…

We arrived into our fourth camp-site, exhausted and tired. Our trekking that day had been the steepest grade yet and we were enshrouded by thick clouds of fog. We just had to keep our heads lowered, pushing through the sharp cold air and the tightening of our lung capacity, pushing up-ward “pole pole” (Swahili for slowly slowly) and until finally, we saw a faint break in the fog and saw our tents. Ahhhh, time to rest.¬†

Yusef, making the steep grade look EASY. Fog enshrouded us

So we thought. In no time the clouds became darker and it was inevitable that we were on the brink of a rain storm. And it was no surprise either, for we were in Tanzania during their rainy season. We had no sooner began eating lunch in our mess tent when the rain began. “Oh, it’ll be over in no time”, said Gary, who had been to Kili during the rainy season 3 times before. “That’s how it rains on Kilimanjaro – a little storm here, a little storm there but it’ll be over soon.” Well, the only thing that happened soon was that it got worse. Below our feet were little rivers of water trailing through our tent.

So, we decided to remain in the tent talking, laughing and sharing stories until it let-up. One hour passed. Two, three and four hours passed until it was again time for our next meal! All throughout our dinner it continued to rain – which heightened our nervousness. What on earth is happening to our tents? Are they leaking? Will they be washed away because the soil isn’t very solid?¬†And even pitifully I hoped that my tent and belongings weren’t being soiled by the rain. Every night so far had been extremely cold for me since I was camping solo in a tent. I never realized how much body-heat another person provides!! It’s not until you don’t have it that you wish you did. PLEASE LORD! Let the rain stop! I don’t want to be cold and wet tonight. Please keep the tents in place, both for our porters/guides and my team.

Dinner was done and it was STILL raining. We kept chatting away but the anxiety began to come out in our voices. Will this be indicative during the rest of our hiking? It’s cold enough, but the rain makes it THAT much colder.¬†Around 8pm, Gary began to share that the team in 2007 wasn’t able to summit because of the rain on the morning of their summit. He said it was SO cold, they literally had to turn around because of the freezing temps. No bueno.

Just then, Yusef stepped into our tent – soaked – and disclaiming, “OH MY GUSH! Dis is terry-ble. You need to pray to your Jesus for d’ rain to stop because dis is only de beginning! If he doesn’t do someting, it will be bad wedder (weather) all d’ way up and we may not summit.”

He was ABSOLUTELY right! We did need to pray to Jesus. What’s incredible too is that one of the ways God reaches out and opens the eyes of Muslims is that he displays His power through dreams and visions of Jesus Christ. Since they only believe Jesus to be another prophet, God desires to set apart Him apart as HIS SON, God-equal-status.

This morning in our devotional we read from Isaiah 65:24

Before they call I will answer; while they are still speaking I will hear.

Coincidence in a Sovereign God…I think not. So I rallied our team together, in that sopping wet tent, as we all shivered together and began to call upon the Name of Jesus. We remembered together how Joshua implored God to hold back the sun from rising, that the Lord granted his request so that they could continue fighting the battle; how Elijah – a human just like us – asked God to hold back to the rains and it didn’t rain for 3.5 years; ¬†and now, the scripture from this morning was on my tongue. Even before we would cry out, Jesus would hear and answer as we sought him….

As the words were leaving my mouth, the torrential downpour began to recede into a light mist before the heavens shut completely!! COMPLETELY. I started laughing and we all began rejoicing by thanking Jesus for answering immediately. We asked too that the weather from there on out would be favorable and that on summit day, it would not rain.

We left for our tents IN AWE of a God who hears and who LOVES to make much of His Son Jesus!! THAT’S why I was grinning and beaming in my tent! Jesus was exalted in that dark place! And I sure couldn’t wait to tell Yusef about it!!

The next morning when Yusef came into the tent, he was beaming, “Wow! the rain just stopped last night!” Before I could speak, Randy piped in, “YEAH YUSEF! We prayed to Jesus and asked Him to do it, and HE DID! It was Jesus!!” Yusef stood utterly bewildered but soaking in the reality….

So were we : ) 

I can testify too that on our summit day, it was the clearest sky we could have ever hoped for~ 

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