Wednesday, January 25, 2012
I love my family! Quite the opening statement, huh? But its true. They are truly the best. And I need to start off this post with a shout out to the best family in the world. Seriously, I am SO blessed to have you guys in my life! I received my Christmas package from them yesterday, and it was EXACTLY what I needed. What a boost. Pieces of home are pieces of gold here. So thank you so much Grandma, Grandpa, Carol, Cana, Luke, Genessa, and Lincoln!! I miss you guys so much! You made me feel so special, and your support is honestly extraordinary. Not everyone is this lucky. You guys are amazing and I love you so much!
Switching gears a bit, here is a fun fact. I rescued a dog! You see, there are 2048957987513 dogs here that just run around on the streets. You can’t go anywhere without seeing a dog. And this one dog in particular, she is a poor little thing. Basically, the male perros (that’s dogs in Spanish….pulling out my skills :] ) love to give her a hard time. It’s terrible really. She has had a rough life. So, I gave her a little oatmeal and let her in our gate. She made herself right at home. Beth made her a little water dish out of a plastic bag, and I bought a little dog food for her and give her the scraps that we don’t eat. We even named her! We voted and Hope won. Not in Spanish unfortunately, since Esperanza would just be too hard to say very often. “Here, Espe- Espe- Ranza” doesn’t have a very good ring. But, “Here, Hopey-Hope-Hope” works a lot better :] But there is a little twist. After about two days of Hopey living with us in a cardboard box outside, our little neighbor girl told us repeatedly that that was her dog. Turns out….she kinda is. Oops. I think that they kind of did what we did….rescued her from the evil clutches of mean male dogs. But, she loves our house more. So now, we are kind of in a predicament. Also, Hopey has now brought a friend to our house. Before we knew she was also a girl, we named her Mcgee, so Mcgee she will be. Another little twist is that Mcgee also belongs to our little neighbor girl. Yes, we are the big bad gringo neighbors who steal small children’s pets. …..oops :]
Also, there has been a stomach virus going around, and this weekend it was my turn for the fun. This virus had Jeano passed out just last week. It doesn’t mess around. For a pretty solid 2 hours, I was in the bathroom, ridding my body of everything in it. It was one of the most miserable times I have ever been sick actually. But then, our coordinator E and his whole family and the whole team came over to pray for me. At the time, I was not that thrilled because having lots of people listen to me puke is not exactly ideal. But you know what? They came in and they prayed for me, and I have not had any problems since! Honestly, I felt great and just that morning I was MISERABLE. You can’t tell me that that is coincidence. I have no doubt that Jesus touched my body. We are here, serving in Chile where there is a big need for a revival of passion for Christ in the people, and He looked on me with compassion and took away my discomfort. He is awesome.
But now switching gears for the last time. Buckle up for Thoughts with Kristina (the name I was given when we first arrived here….I think I forgot to ever mention it. Turns out Kirsten is just too hard for people to say here, so I have become Kristina to most.) But really, this has just become a much more serious post…..starting…..now.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D3fr2Kl4Fcs If ever there was a song of the post that I wanted you to listen to, it would be this one. I’m Still Yours by Kutless. It’s a song for everyone. Guy/girl. Young/old. Really. Listen to the words. So challenging. So powerful. And after listening, read what the song had to say again. Let it sink in. And then, ask yourself, “Do I believe this??”
If You washed away my vanity, if You took away my words, if all my world was swept away, would You be enough for me?
Will my beating heart still sing?
When my life is not what I expected, the plans I made have failed, when there is nothing left to steal me away, will You be enough for me?
Will my broken heart still sing?
If I lost it all, would my hands stay lifted to the God who gives and takes away?
If You take it all, this life You’ve given, still my heart will sing to You. Even if you take it all away, You’ll never let me go. If you take it all away, I still know that I’M YOURS.
Pretty powerful lyrics, huh? Well these thoughts have been at the forefront of my mind for quite some time now. Actually, these thoughts are what pushed me to do REACH in the first place. You see, as I thought about my desires and what I wanted the future to look like for me, I realized I had absolutely no idea what God had purposed for my life. My life has been so blessed and things just seemed to fall into place in the past. I never really had a big decision to make like this one, and therefore I never thought to consult “God’s advice”. So when I came to the point of having to decide what to do with myself in the coming year, I realized I was in some trouble.
I began to think seriously about missions after coming back from a class trip to Costa Rica. God showed up and spoke loudly to me at that time. It was like things got put back into perspective. So much of my time had been wasted being comfortable in life, not really caring about growing. But after Costa Rica, I was reminded just how AWESOME God is. I realized that my faith was stale. Yes, I went to a Christian school, I had great friends, and I went to church every Sunday, but I wasn’t going anywhere. My faith really hadn’t grown much over the years. And as this realization dawned, I began to question how strong my faith in God even was. If I was taken out of my little Christian bubble, would I be able to stand strong? If I got cancer, how would I react? If my family was taken away from me, what would my reaction be? And these scenarios scared me, not only because they are devastating circumstances, but because I honestly didn’t know how I would respond.
So many thoughts. I didn’t really know where to start. All I really knew was that the foundation that my life was sitting on wasn’t nearly as strong as I thought it was. That is never a good feeling, and I wanted it to change. I realized I needed to get out of my comfort zone. This iffy faith of mine would not get me anywhere. So I began looking at my options.
Was college really for me right now? What else would I do? If I did choose to do missions for a year, should I go through an organization or volunteer alone? What organization? Can I volunteer alone? Where?
Basically, through the influence of someone I look up to a lot, I was persuaded to at least apply for REACH. What could it hurt to apply? And as I applied, I realized how much this program could really suit me and what I wanted to do. At this point, college was out of the question because I had decided to take a year off for missions, and when I found out that I had been accepted to REACH, I knew that it was what I was supposed to do. Thanks, Kevin, for nudging me to give it a shot :]
Honestly, this experience has just been incredible. Never in my life have I grown and learned so much….and in only 5.5 months so far! I was taken out of my comfort zone time and time again. I have been challenged, stretched, loved, blessed, pushed, and tested throughout this experience. It has been hard….really hard. A lot harder than I ever thought it would be actually. But these past few months have also been some of the greatest of my life. Throughout this journey, I have met some INCREDIBLE people that I will never forget. These friendships have taught me so much. So many good examples of what following Jesus is really about and how love is the greatest gift you can give anyone. I was shown true forgiveness, love, grace, and the redeeming power of Jesus Christ. And, I was able to see firsthand what true FAITH looks like.
Faith is trusting God in the uncertainties. I have learned that God is not going to always show us the path. In fact, I believe He rarely shows us 4 steps of the path at one time. It’s not that He can’t. But He chooses not to. Because if we knew what the future held, how many of us could truly trust in Him to be our Everything? No, I have come to realize that God does not normally operate like that. But if we are truly seeking His face and walking in His will, He is faithful to show us exactly where to take our next step. Of this I have no doubt. He is right there, illuminating the path just enough for us to see His hand, pointing. The question is, do we have enough faith to follow that finger? When the path is dark and we don’t know what lies ahead of us, do we trust Him enough to take that step of faith?
Faith is also trusting God when He takes away. This is so hard! And this is what I did not trust myself with. During DTS, a question that God kept asking me was, “If I took away the most important thing to you, your family, would I still be enough?” It was and still is such a challenging question! Do I really live my life in such a way that says He is enough for me…no matter what? Sure, He is enough for me when life is going great and everything is falling into place. But will He be enough for me when the bottom falls out? It’s so hard to know for sure how we would react to something that has not happened yet. And I don’t think we can really. But I don’t think that is the point. The point is, are we trusting in Him and DEPENDING on Him while we still have the bottom beneath us? Are we living in a constant state of reliance on Him for our everything? IS HE OUR EVERYTHING FOR EVERY SITUATION?! That is the challenge. That is true faith.
I have come to the point of thinking that if He were to take away everything from me, I would be ok. Like I said, I can’t know for sure because it hasn’t happened to me, but I tend to be a pretty stubborn person, so when I make my mind up on something, its usually pretty tough to get me to sway. And I have made up my mind to stick with Jesus through it all, no matter what life throws my way. In Him, I have EVERYTHING that I need. He is Comfort, Peace, Strength, Redeemer, Help, Father, Hero, Joy, Hope, Lover, Living Water, Bread of Life, Just, Good, and LOVE. Whatever situation comes my way, He will be whatever I need to get me through, you know? I finally believe that and stand on it. But now, here is an interesting thought. Abraham was a man of ENORMOUS faith. God took away lots of things from him, but he stayed true to Him and was blessed for it. But then, what did God ask him to do? Kill his son?! Not only was God taking away the very thing he had waited for for so long, but he was asking Abraham himself to do it! And Abraham was going to! Now that is just a whole new level of faith. I can tell you that my first reaction to having God tell me to kill my sister would be…..ARE YOU CRAZY!???! NO WAY. I mean, wouldn’t you think that God was bogus? Why would He ever ask me to sacrifice someone….especially the person I love the most? But you know what. That is faith. God’s plan is ALWAYS better than ours. If you don’t believe this, just read Abraham’s story.
It’s been awhile since I posted about what has been on my mind. I feel like I could keep writing on this subject for another couple of hours. I love discussing this topic as well. Really, I love discussing any thought-provoking topics like this. I love learning new truths and being stretched in this way. My mind is constantly trying to figure out how things fit and make sense. If there is no logic behind it, why do it? And so, when talking about matters of faith, I am challenged. Because, by definition, faith does not make sense. It’s believing in the unseen. It’s trusting in the invisible. It’s challenging. It’s scary. But it’s worth it. When faith is developed and you trust the One who CAN NOT FAIL and who WILL NEVER LEAVE YOU, this is what you can be assured of. The following lyrics are from the song Times by Tenth Avenue North. I guess it is the second song of the post. But this is what we are promised for our faith! Again, I highly encourage you to listen to this song. So true and powerful. The ending lyrics are below. Enjoy and God bless. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rRN0QPXrdR8
I hear You say, “My love is over. Its underneath. Its inside. Its in between. The times you doubt Me, when you cant feel. The times when you question, is this for real? The times you’re broken. The times that you mend. The times you hate Me and the times that you bend. Well My love is over, its underneath, its inside, its in between. These times that you’re healing, and when your heart breaks. The times when you feel like you’ve fallen from grace. The times you’re hurting. The times that you heal. The times you go hungry and are tempted to steal. In times of confusion, chaos, and pain. I’m there in your sorrow, under the weight of your shame. I’m there through your heartache. I’m there in the storm. My love, I will keep you by My power alone. I don’t care where you’ve fallen or where you have been. I’ll never forsake you. My love never ends.” …….pure beauty.
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