Saturday, February 16, 2013

Obedience


How can one word cause such and upheaval… because being obedient to the Lord can and does turn your life upside down.   I can look back at points in my life and see things that I did that some people did not understand and that the world called foolish.  But I can say that those moments of following as the Lord is prompting/calling/directing and leading have been some of the sweetest moments with Him.

I had a student minister say once, if you have an obedience problem, you have a love problem, I cannot tell you how many times that statement has come to my mind and heart as I pray through things… because if I choose to be willingly disobedient I obviously love myself more than I love the Lord.  I know this isn’t just a battle that I face.  We are wired to worship something, and I think most of us far too often decide to worship ourselves or something we can control. We want to know that our worship, love and obedience will benefit us.  We wrongly want to share in God’s glory. We reach out and try to take His glory and heap it onto ourselves.  We take things that are good and make them evil by failing to submit them to the Lord.  I believe the only way to avoid this from happening is to daily surrender to Christ.  To lay ourselves down on the altar of sacrifice and let Him lead in every aspect of our lives.

It is with all of that said, that I have some news to share.  I am headed back home.  The Lord has made it very clear to me that I am to return home.  I wish I could tell you all why, or what exactly the future holds, but all I can say is that I know God is Faithful.  I know that He has a path for me to walk on and ministry to do at home.   I also know that as I walk in obedience God will be right there with me. 

The past six months have been incredible.  They have been hard and the Lord has pulled and stretched me in ways that I did not know where possible.  I have learned things about myself and more importantly I believe I have learned more about Him.  So even though there have been some excruciating moments… I would not trade them for anything.  I have seen the Lord and He is good.

I plan to share more of what God has been teaching me, but I know that I needed to share my update first.  I want to take a second to thank everyone that has prayed and supported me… I know that this would not have been possible without your intercession. 

I look forward to seeing you and sharing in person what our GREAT God is doing,

By Grace
sarah

Friday, November 16, 2012

Border Run


A few weeks ago I had to take a small trip to Thailand.  I had to leave the country in order to begin the process of securing an NGO Visa.   It was a quick trip… only 3 days, but it was a great little break.  We (Vicki went with me) left early on Monday morning via bus, traveled the first day, crossed the border, stayed night in Thailand, and crossed the border in the morning, stayed the night at a nearby town and traveled back on Wednesday…. Here are a few things I learned/observed:

1.       Five hour bus ride and this sign made it totally worth it.  Elephant Crossing!!!!!  Unfortunately did not see any elephants, but the sign definitely reminded me that I am a long way from home.

 

2.       After 8 years of working with students and my personality type, when I get on a charter bus, I have this urge to count heads and take role.  I had to laugh at myself that I even thought about counting heads as we left rest stops during our journey. 

3.       I LOVE MOUNTAINS! They always stir my affection for Jesus.  My heart is also humbled that the God that created all of the mountains in the universe also knitted me together in my mother’s womb.  Its nuts.

4.       Jurassic Park has nothing on SE Asia.  I kid you not; there were several times that I was waiting for a T-Rex or some other Jurassic reptile to charge out of the trees.

5.       HOT WATER!!!!  I do not have hot water at my house and needless to say, the hot water and water pressure in Thailand were a great blessing.  I seriously took two 40 minute showers.  One of the biggest lessons that I have learned through this whole thing is that it is the simple things…. And hot showers are a simple thing that I absolutely love!

6.       I am slowly but surely mastering the fine art of climbing in and out of a tuk-tuk.


There are so many more things that I could list, but I think I will finish with this.   God is continually pulling and stretching me.  I have to surrender my controlling type A personality daily and pray for a heart that can be flexible.  It is hard, but for the moments that it all works like it is suppose to, it is so very worth it.

by grace and with much love
sarah

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Everyday Life


 Time for an update on my everyday life….

I have been in country for two months, and in some aspects I feel like I landed yesterday and in others, I feel completely at home. 

I have a great little apartment in the Village.  When I say little, it isn’t that little, it is actually bigger then my old house in OKC.  It is the upstairs of a house right down the street from work and directly across the road from my little coffee shop.  It has one living space, my bedroom and bathroom on the lower level and up three little steps is where I spend most of my time.  I have started calling it the loft, but in all actuality it is a giant multipurpose room. The kitchen is in one corner, lounge space in the middle and my washer and clothes line in another corner. I have spent the past weeks, buying things and making it my space.  When I moved in, there was really no kitchen.   I had a sink, shelf and a large dorm style fridge.  After a few weeks of sandwiches and stuff that did not have to be cooked to be eaten, I did some appliance shopping.  I bought a cook top, fridge, microwave and a toaster oven.  I have really been enjoyed being able to cook some simple things for myself and feel a little more normal.   The best thing about my house… the view --- 
I have affectionately begun calling it my backyard, and it is absolutely breath taking.  I also have a great little balcony on the front of the house, that on days when I lose power, I drag a chair out there and read.  It is nice, I can watch what is going on in the village and I am sure it amuses some of the people around me.

Daily life is pretty simple, and very similar to the states.  Wake up in the morning, far to earlier for my taste… the village seems to start waking up around and since I sleep with windows open, I usually wake up around 4:30, don’t worry, I do not get out of bed at that time, but do the toss and turn and light sleep for another hour or so.  Then I finally give up and get up.  Start the day, surprisingly I have no coffee pot in my house, so I get up, get ready and then spend some time with the Lord.  If I have a skype date with someone at home, those usually happen in the morning. So maybe I skype maybe I don’t.  I usually head to the coffee shop for breakfast around 7:30, walk across the road and settle in.  Sometimes I eat alone, and sometimes friends are there.  I am making friends with the little kids that are there.  It is amazing how a smart phone can make them all like you.  Order breakfast in the open air coffee shop, I usually have fried egg and an iced coffee with sweetened condensed milk.   Every now and then I will get egg noodles with pork, just depends.   I spend breakfast laughing with friends and listening to the language around me, trying desperately to pick out words or phrases that I may know and of course a good portion of this time is spent giving Da a hard time.  At 8:30 I walk down the street to work.  I usually have language in the morning and then spend the rest of my time reviewing, working on media, newsletters, and giving Da a hard time.  I have had the chance to go to a few meetings, and let me just say… I really have to fight my adult A.D.D. and pay attention, because of the ever present language barrier.   It is getting better though; I am getting better at hearing the sounds and am picking up on the missing ending consonants.   I usually eat lunch at home or sometimes I do lunch at the dining hall at work.    I am building relationships with my office mates and I am loving it.  Getting to the point that I can joke around and get them to laugh, they all speak English to some level.  They all want to help me with my Khmer and my heart is happy when I can grasp enough words, or better yet, can participate in conversations.  Still have a very long way to go, but am feeling a lot better about the language.

Evenings are usually pretty quiet.  Sometimes I visit friends, but most often I am at home, just relaxing and studying.   Go to bed around 9, but that is a victory, since usually when the sun sets, it feels like it is midnight, and it is usually only 6:30!!!


Weekends, are usually about the same, minus work.  I tend to head into the city on Saturday with some friends.  Do any errand running that needs to be done and hit up Lucky.  Lucky is the grocery store and Iet me just say, grocery shopping in Asia, is a task.  I usually try to make a list… but there is no consistency to what is at the store.  Just because I was able to buy something last week, that does not mean I will be able to get it this week.   It is always an adventure, and just like home, I have found my favorite Lucky, and if it all possible, I try to go to that store.


I have had the chance to attend a church, in town, one time.  It was good to have the corporate worship time, but unfortunately the message was not all that theological sound.  I plan to visit a few other churches and see if I can find a place that I can attend semi-regularly.

Hope that you have enjoyed getting to read a little about my everyday life.  I still wake up in the morning and kind of shake my head that this is my new normal.   It is very easy to get distracted and homesick and wonder if I can really do this… so for now… I am trying to embrace the new normal and the Goodness of the Lord.

by grace and with much love,                                                                                                                        sarah

Friday, October 5, 2012

I Have Short Arms

In one of the more ironic moments of my life, I once dressed as a T-Rex.  It was several years ago in high school for senior incognito day, my group of friends decided that we were going to dress up as characters from the movie Toy Story, and I was Rex.  It was a lot of fun, I remember staying up way to late making a paper mache dinosaur head, dying clothing green, painting clothing, dying shoes, and even constructing a tail that as the day progressed  I would grow to hate.  You try to navigate your way through a mass of 2500 people with a giant dino head and a 5 foot long tail… needless to say it was a learning adventure and we did win, so that was a plus and it is a great memory.



It was so ironic to me because I have always thought my arms weren’t quite in proportion with the rest of my body.  I feel like they need to just be a few inches longer.   Remember in Toy story 2 Rex  is trying to beat a video game and he cries out in defeat “I have little short arms, I can’t hit both buttons at the same time!!!” I have felt his pain, well maybe not with buttons, but man I have thought so many times, if my arms were just a bit longer. 

As my life has changed so much as of late and really over the past year, I have several times wished “I had longer arms,” I have longed for abilities and things that I thought if I just had that, this would be so easy. Or thought man, if God would allow me this, just think how he could use it.  Usually it is fleeting and nothing that significant, but this week, He opened my eyes to a moment of me desiring longer arms and it blew my mind.

It is currently the festival of the dead in my new homeland.  What that means is that people have to go to the wats (temples) to leave food for their ancestors or their ancestors will curse them.  It is very dark thing, and it is always right in your face, especially when the monks are chanting or calling the towns people over the loud speaker system.  It is a pretty constant drone… and it is disheartening. To see people headed to the wat, and not really be able to do anything.  To see the ever present fear and lack of hope manifested on people’s faces, is heart breaking.  I was making dinner one night this week and talking to the Father, while my iTunes was shuffling in the background, I was begging God for longer arms, I am struggling with the communication barrier. I am taking language classes, but it is one of those things that you cannot rush. But I want to be fluent today. Not tomorrow, today.  I want to be able to share the Love and the Hope that can only be found in Jesus.  I want to tell my sweet landlord and her family, that God loves them and that fear doesn’t have to be a part of daily life. I was pouring out my heart to God, saying Lord this is for you name and your glory, just let me wake up knowing what to say and how to say it…. Then my iTunes changed, I am pretty sure that it had been playing the theme from “A Goofy Movie” then it started to play “My Deliverer”  by Rich Mullins. I was speechless. God is the deliverer of me and HE is the deliverer of these people.  

God doesn’t have T-Rex arms…..

I know that may sound silly and a little elementary, but think about it for a second.  God doesn’t need longer arms.  He is coming for His people.  He is accomplishing His purposes throughout the world right now.  And part of that is using a blond haired, short-armed, English speaking girl from OKC in SE Asia.  I don’t know yet what that exactly looks like and that is OK, because God has got this, like He always has. My heart is still broken for the lost people of the world, the monks chanting is still driving me to my knees to beg that God would pierce the darkness of this place with His Light, and I am still frustrated by language.

But to this I cling:

“The LORD your God is in your midst, a mighty one who will save; he will rejoice over you with gladness; he will quiet you by his love; he will exult over you with loud singing.”  Zephaniah 3:17

God doesn’t have T-Rex arms.

by grace and with much love,
sarah

ps: I know these past two post have been similar and a little heavy.  I promise I will post a “what my life is like here post” soon.    

 

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Longing for my Hobbit Hole


Well, it is a rainy afternoon in my part of the world, and I must say it is quite fitting.  This past week or so has been very interesting, and in all honesty very hard.  I have gone back and forth on how much I should share with the unknown few of you that are actually reading this… and after a lot of thought and even more prayer; I have decided that I am going to be very transparent.  I feel that that is the only way to ensure that none of the praise and or glory goes to anyone besides the One that is truly worthy of it.  If I put on a brave face and pretend that I am doing great, I feel like it could become very easy to claim victories that are not mine to claim.  I am a weak, broken mess of a human but God is big, glorious, creator of all things, mighty to save, loving, patient, faithful, ever present, strong, victorious, all-knowing, completely sovereign and so many more things. He alone is worthy of praise and glory, any meager victory I have is because Christ died so that I may live and the Holy Spirit is abiding in me.  It is Him who works through my weakness and brokenness to make beautiful things. 

                As I mentioned, this past week has been rough, more so the weekend.  I went to bed Friday with a heart that was full of praise and gratitude for God providing just what I needed.  Saturday morning was good… then I ran out of water….and spent the day alone.  Sunday… no electricity for most of the day, and again I was alone… (Please know that the great people that I am here with did try to include me in their lives, but my stupid pride got in the way).  Needless to say, I do not do alone very well. I mean I enjoy an hour or two or maybe even a quiet weekend every once and awhile, but for the most part… I am a social butterfly.  I come from a large family and have been blessed with a large group of friends that over the past few years I have grown to see as a second family, and I am realizing just how much I took for granted that I could send out a text and few hours later 6 of us would be together playing games, doing dinner or just hanging out. I miss some people so much it hurts…which is a complete new feeling for me.

My heart was tormented…how am I going to do this? What was I thinking moving somewhere where I don’t have a little group?  Am I going to be alone all the time?  Lord, how am I going to do this???? Two years!! I can’t make it two years. If I go home will everyone view me as a failure?

I have to admit, that there were several tears shed.  I spent time talking to the Father and telling him that I was lonely, homesick and scared.  And I felt like my words and pleas were simply bouncing off of the ceiling. 

Monday morning came, and I just knew that it would be better…. And it wasn’t.  I tried to put on the brave face at work and around others, the team still doesn’t know that I was having a hard time – I plan on telling them on Thursday.  As the week progressed, I thought ok… I’m getting a handle on this, and then Thursday happened.

Thursday afternoons we have a team meeting… we get updates on what is going on, spend time in worship, bible study and prayer… basically its community.  We are working through James and spent this last week talking about suffering and how it produces perseverance. “Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance.” James 1:2-3.  Needless to say, my heat was pummeled by God, in the good way.  Because no matter how lonely I am, I have Jesus.  My joy is found in Him. Period.  Not in my family, friends, or the familiar. Just in Jesus.  I went home on Thursday night and spent some time repenting of my doubts.  God has not brought me halfway around the world to abandon me.  I am never going to get a handle on my deceitful heart… only God can do that, and has.  I just have to continually fall before His feet and beg Him to provide for me, just like He always has.  One of my favorite preachers says this:

“There is nothing, nothing, nothing that is currently on or in your life that God has not in His infinite, all-knowing wisdom decided not to stop, and so therefore its part of the purposes of God for His Glory and your eventual joy.”

So even in the dark night of the soul, I know God is there, and He is victorious.  Even though, I know this… I am still repenting daily for my wicked heart and clinging to the promise of Joy, which makes the homesick a little easier to wade through. 

If you have a few moments would you stop and ask that God will continue to pull at my heart and keep me focused on Him.  Pray that I will not get caught up in missing friends and family and miss what is going on right here. Pray for my language lessons, I have a giant pile of flash cards and feel just a tad bit overwhelmed.  Most of all, please pray that God will reveal himself to the Khmer people… pray that His light will shine brightly in this land.

I finished reading “The Hobbit” yesterday, and I had to laugh when I finished it… I had never noticed how much time Bilbo spends wishing he was home in his nice hobbit hole.  Or how many different comforts he longs for instead of the incredible journey he is on.  From his house, chair, pantry to his bed… he longs for the comforts of home… but had that crazy Hobbit never left those things, then the King would not have been able to return in the Lord of the Rings.   It just goes to show that we have no idea of how our journeys will affect the journeys of others.  I pray that my journey will be obedient God and used to accomplish His purpose.

By grace and with much love

sarah

Friday, September 7, 2012

Hello There!!


Greetings!

I know it has been awhile since my last post, please forgive me.  I am going to try and post at least once a week. 

I am not really sure were to begin…

It is Saturday morning here, I have a guy working on my roof and I am enjoying a brown sugar cinnamon poptart, thanks Aunt Linda!! 

My dear friends that came with me went home yesterday… I don’t think they really know how much they mean to me.  I will be eternally grateful for the help they have offered over the past 10 days, from shopping, phase 10; unpacking and making sure I was ok during a freak out.   I am not sure how I would have done this without them.

Yesterday was suppose to be a hard day… Vicki and I took Bekah and Sarah to the airport.  It was suppose to  be sad, I was prepared to fall apart, but God stood in the gap and gave me  peace and understanding that I am doing exactly what I am suppose to be doing.  

Spent the day with Vicki in town buying groceries and a few last things for my new place.  I am so thankful for that lady.  We went to two different grocery stores and the central market.  It was a good day.  That evening I had the great opportunity to do dinner with Marc and Ann and their kids.  Again, so thankful for them.  Had a great evening talking about my story and what God has been doing in my life, and how I got here.  It was just such an encouragement to hear what is happening here and I am so blessed to be a part of it.   Got home around 7 and was just spending some time decompressing, and I again was just amazed at how crazy good God is.  Not only did He grant me peace at the airport, He has surrounded me with people that genuinely care about me and my well being.

So, yesterday wasn’t hard… it was good.  And all I keep thinking is…

“And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good for those who are called according to his purpose.” Romans 8:28

Planning resting in that reality this weekend.

by grace and with love

sarah 

Monday, August 27, 2012

Away We Go

Today is the day.  I wish I had some deep thought to share on this crazy experience, But all I have is a heart full of thanksgiving.

The past few weeks have been an incredible time to spend with family and friends.  God has richly blessed me, and I am so amazed at His goodness and his provision.  I think all that I have to say is this, God is good and Jesus is enough.  Love to you all and will post when I get there!

by grace
sarah