Saturday, October 30, 2010

An Attitude of Prayer

walk in the park

How can I daily forget the most basic things? God continues impressed on my heart the obvious, yet needful quality of prayerfulness. I hear a sermon on prayer. The pastor reminds us that we need to shut up and pray. {Something I need to do more often} I see the way God answers a specific pray and I get all fired up. {YES! Prayer really changes things} I read a challenging blog post on the need for more prayer and less anxiety. {I could definitely cut down on anxiety in my life}

relections

How is it so easy for me to read, hear and feel these things yet in the moment of stress, my morale and courage melts? Worry creeps back too quickly. Doubt wraps its cold, curling fingers around my heart. The warming love and deep settled peace of Jesus ebbs away.

I am thankful that Jesus is ever patience with me. I am thankful for a man who reminds me to go to Him in prayer. I am thankful for verses that bring the peace washing back in. I am thankful that my future, my money, my plans, my life, my family, my work, my ministry, my friends, my fears, my failures, my accomplishments, my everything: is all in His hands. He is not confused. He is not perplexed. He is completely and forever in control.

And that is a deep quiet peace in my heart.


the falls

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I’m back on the road again… touring for Bring Me Hope. This time my travels brought me north to Ontario. {Side note: I LOVE TOURING. Sometimes when I think about the incredible blessing Jesus has given me, I shiver with thanks and excitement. Seriously. How many people get to travel and talk about the kids in China?!}

nic

There are so many things I love about Canada. Not the least of which is the plethora of their famous coffee joint ‘Tim Hortons’ where I could eat honey cruellers all day; the quaint brick home neighborhoods; my dear friends, the Andersons, who joined us the last three years at camp; the raw beauty of Niagara Falls.

Between our speaking engagements, TV interviews and lots of hanging out time with people; Lacey Scott {my amazing traveling girlfriend} and I have had so many good talks and have eaten incredible food. It's also been amazing being with my chum, Bethany. Her and I spent almost six months together in Kunming last year. We've spent the last several days laughing over our crazy adventures.

lacey bethany


jumping

On the subject of food. Seriously. I think on tour all we do is two things. Talk and eat. I should not complain because I seriously {L O V E} both those things. It’s amazing how much relationships revolve around food and talking. I’ve told Lacey I need to kick my exercise regiment up about 50 notches. It’s such a privilege to be a voice for the orphans. To speak on their behalf.

italian cafe

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frothy waterIt was fun visiting Niagara Falls for the second time. Ok. Not even lying. When I see the enormity of those falls. When I hear the roar of the crashing water. When I drink in the beauty of the double rainbow. I feel this surging love in my heart for God. For His greatness. For His incredible beauty. Have you ever thought that if God can create such powerful beauty, what must He be like? Someone who can create the beauty of Niagara’s crashing water. The irresistibility of babies’ soft cheeks. The alluring nature of blue eyes. The contrast of colors in nature. The humbling awe of a star-studded sky. Begs me believe that {H I S} beauty must be infinitely bigger. Better. More awe inspiring. More to make me fall in love with Him.

a promise


D A N G E R

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changing

It is simple: Pray. Give Thanks. Repeat.

It covers
all of life: Don’t be anxious about ANYTHING. Pray about EVERYTHING.

And it comes with a
promise: God’s peace will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.
- Nicole Whitacre


“Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”
(Philippians 4:6-7 ESV)

"...Thirsty souls yearn for His nearness. Nothing else satisfies. All else seems meaningless without the Lord’s presence with them. This is not a “let’s pretend” presence. It is real and living and comforting and invigorating. Lord, please give us foretastes of heaven now — on earth — and by this cause us to thirst more for You..." J. White


a view

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

My New Year's Resolutions... in October

The last week, I’ve had a million blog thoughts running through my mind. Verses I’ve read as I cuddle under my covers just before drifting off to sleep, songs on the radio that bring tears to my eyes and a prayer to my lips, crazy things I’ve done with my siblings, and memories with my Captain Awesome that make me smile and miss him even more. So bear with me as I spew these random ramblings at you all.

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I always have high hopes of making sweeping changes in my life every year when January rolls around. Never mind the fact that I rarely – ok, never – see those changes still intact by March.

In September, the most brilliant of ideas hit me. Why not start my resolutions in the fall?? If somehow they manage to stick, I will feel like I’ve conquered the world on January 1st, rather than just starting.

Remember the list from two years ago here? Well, I still have high hopes of someday accomplishing those things. I believe the list went something like this; Exercise a little more, Try to eat more healthy, study Chinese, make prayer and Bible reading a bigger part of my life, etc. Do you wonder what is on that list of changes I’ve been chipping away at now??

The first thing has been exercise. I know. Shocking. And completely unbelievable. Anyone who knows me, knows how much I {H A T E} exercising. And what I hate with an even more passionate passion is running. Uggh. Even the word makes my muscles burn.

But for some reason two weeks ago, I decided to tackle what I loathe more than anything. I started on such a small scale that it’s almost embarrassing to vocalize it here. I had a mile-plus section on our road that was my project to tackle several days a week. And in an effort to not come across better than I am, I should say that I couldn’t even run the whole mile straight.

Correction: when I say {run} it’s more like a jog, if I was really honest. Somehow calling it running makes me feel better about the whole charade.

I would start by power walking and then set off at a jogging pace. What seem like two thousand steps later, which was actually only about ten yards, I was huffing and puffing embarrassingly. I wanted to lie down on the concrete and kiss my beautiful life goodbye. Every muscle in my puny body was screaming in sheer terror.

Since then God has been impressing thoughts on my heart that is often slow to learn. The biggest is that of endurance. I’ve read this verse in Corinthians over and over in life, but it’s come alive for me since I’ve started ‘running’.

“Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but only one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may win. Everyone who competes in the games exercises self-control in all things. They then do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable. Therefore I run in such a way, as not without aim;”

- 1Cor 9:24-26

Running is hard work. Especially for me. Every night when I get dressed up in my cute black and purple shoes and head down the road, I growl and remind myself how much I {H A T E} running. But it makes me think of my life. It reminds me that character growth takes tons of painful, hard work. Loving people who are unlovely is not fun. Holding my tongue from nasty words hurts from all the biting. Serving in unrecognized ways cuts my pride down. It takes steady, consistent work. Over time, changes are slowly made. Results from the hard work finally pay off. And hopefully I reflect Jesus in a better way. All for the purpose that He may be honored through my broken lives.

Since I started running, I’ve missed days. I’ve not always completed a full mile. But somehow have begun to build up my ‘running’ tolerance. I even had one day where I survived running the whole mile! {Yes, you have permission to insert laughter here} It’s even beginning to feel like I could go a little further each day – by further I mean about 20 more steps. And I hope that eventually my weakling muscles will show off the miles run.

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On a completely different track, I just have to talk a little bit about my crazy fall. It started off with Bring Me Hope’s tour in Medford, Oregon. It was really awesome to travel to northwest America for the first time. The mountain/hills reminded me of North Carolina.

I stayed with the Scotts, a family who have traveled to China and been in incredible blessing at camp. The first day I arrived, it literally poured down rain ALL. DAY. LONG. But we still tromped around the quaint town of Grants Pass sipping coffee at the famous Dutch Brother’s Coffee, window shopping, and drinking 25 cent phosphates {aka. sodas} at the ‘ole fashion drug store while the rain poured down outside.

These are the things that I {L O V E} about touring. Meeting with friends. Seeing their corner of the world. And together sharing our heart to reach out to hurting children around the globe.

IMG_1319

We also had rousing games of round robin all weekend long. It was totally awesome because the Scott’s have an ongoing ‘family feud’ with another family in the area. It totally came out at the ping-pong table. Problem was this other family was sick-amazing at ping-pong. The Scotts could totally hold their own, but it was a battle. They were gracious enough to graft me into their family team for the games and my competitive side came out with a passion. We played game after game after game.

A note here on my ping-pong skills. They are zip, zero, nada. I struggled the whole time just to stay in the running for at least two rounds. Way too often I would end up on the wall of shame. {Somehow I can never pull off the dejected face when I need to.} In my defense though, I did make it into the finals {O N C E} and scored a big one for the Scott family!!

IMG_1332

Tomorrow I head north to Minnesota for another tour through the weekend. I’m super excited to see old friends and I’m hoping to sneak in a visit across the North Dakota border when I visit a family in Moorhead.

In other traveling news, God given me the {H U G E} blessing of being able to travel to Australia in November. I will go with my co-worker, Kristen {check out her awesome photog blog here!} and we will meet up with our Aussie friends who have come to China the last several years. Believe me, I’m freakishly excited to see the land down under. {A W E S O M E!!}

Sometimes I look at the blessings God has given me and feel completely unworthy. I feel like He continues to remind me of the lesson I learned while traveling to Oregon just two weeks ago. Whether He brings blessings or trials, I will still choose to bless Him. To serve Him. To love Him.

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One last random thought and then I’m gonna go to bed… the alarm always blares way to early and soon.

I was sitting in the bus this afternoon after driving the 8th grade football team to a game. I had my Bible and was trying to read in somewhat of a comfortable position – which is virtually impossible on vinyl bus seats. A verse in the first chapter of 2 Corinthians jumped off the page and made me smile, not only at the goodness of God, but the practical application in my life.

For we do not want you to be unaware, brethren, of our affliction which came to us in Asia, that we were burdened excessively, beyond our strength, so that we despaired even of life. Indeed we had the sentence of death within ourselves so that we would not trust in ourselves, but in God who raises the dead.

- 2 Corinthians 1

How true that was of my six months in China last year. I know that I have not shared much of my experiences, but those verses could have been right out of my own mouth.

the ride

Someday I hope to share more of the events that transpired, but until then, I have to publicly thank Jesus for bringing me through that dark valley. He was always beside me. Always faithful. Always loving. And as I look back, I don’t know how I would have survived without Him. Prayer works. His timing is good. He delights to give good gifts to His children. And He can see the bigger picture. I’m thankful that though I doubted and wrestled with my faith and questioned His sovereignty, He never left my side.

And I love Him for it.

He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will abide in the shadow of the Almighty… He will cover you with His pinions, and under His wings you may seek refuge. His faithfulness is a shield and bulwark. He will call upon Me and I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble; I will rescue him and honor him.

- Psalms 91

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As you think of it, please continue to lift up Spring. She is one of the girls who lived at the Ranch with us. She is in Beijing receiving counseling and help for her struggles with suicide. Jesus has saved a life again and I can’t thank Him enough.

Continue to lift up all the forgotten hearts in China and around the world. They need us to tell them of Hope.