As far as updates, there is not much more to report on other than God doing so much in my heart. He never ever ceases to amaze me. I continue to fervently pray for a pure, undivided heart that is fully devoted to Him and His purposes for my life. I read a very true statement in my Beth Moore "Believing God" Bible study this week: "If Satan can't get to me with destruction, he will try to get to me with distraction." May I be completely focused on Him right now and not at all distracted with anything the enemy would try to throw my way.
I am praying for each of you right now and thanking Jesus for every one of you. Thank you for being a part of my life and for your prayers and support. Please keep me updated on how to pray for you, too!
- I bought my plane ticket!! It's quite a tricky feat to get to Botswana from here, but I have just about accomplished it. I bought the big ticket from Washington D.C. to Johannesburg and the small one from Jo-burg to Botswana. Now I only need to get the ticket from Midland to D.C. and I will be finished! I depart from D.C. on Friday, December 28th. I haven't heard back from the guest house in Jo-burg, so please pray that there is an opening on the 29th.
- I made reservations to attend a weekend-long conference called "The Journey Deepens", which is for those going to the mission field or wanting to find out how to. I am VERY excited about this weekend. It will be in Atlanta the last weekend of October. An added blessing is that I am redeeming a free airline ticket to go and on the way home I get to sit in a first class seat!!
- I have been busy substitute teaching recently and have really, really enjoyed it. It's great because I get to hang out with the kids and teach them without the added work of lesson plans, meetings, etc. If I ever doubted whether God called me to be a teacher, I have definitely been assured of it this past week. It brings more joy to my heart than I could express when I am in a classroom with the opportunity to teach children something new and build relationships with them. I have to admit that I am totally addicted to the smiles and hugs from kiddos. :)
- My car is sold and I am blessed to have another car to drive that is already paid off, so no car payments! It is a standard, but I'm getting better at maneuvering it each day. Also, there is no radio, so my iPod has become even more valuable. And there is no air conditioning, so I have learned to appreciate the feel of the cool breeze coming in from the windows. I actually love my times of driving at night with the windows down and light traffic. I've had some great moments with the Lord during those night-time drives.
- I continue to feel so blessed by the hospitality of those who've opened their homes to me. I don't feel like a visitor, but more like a part of a family. I've come to appreciate the gift of hospitality in a whole new way the past couple of months.
- I have been volunteering up at church a day or two each week and love it! It's been great to have my time be useful to others and I've gotten to know some amazing people in the office.
- I am doing a Bible study called "Believing God" with some other incredible girls and loving every minute of doing the study and getting to discuss it with them. God's doing some great things there!
- I have started the class I am taking this semester called "Encountering the World of Islam" and have already been educated and enlightened so much. It's great to be able to understand and pray more intelligently for Muslims.
- I begin working with two year olds at church this Sunday. I will be doing this twice a month....prayers would be appreciated for this, for sure. ;)
I am so blessed, my friends. The Lord never ceases to amaze me. He has so much more to do in me and teach me and I am really praying for a pure, teachable heart. Thank you so much for your support and prayers. Can you believe it....just a little over three months!
God has also taught me that times of change bring all kinds of different emotions, and that allowing myself to feel those emotions is ok. There is a grieving process when a chapter of life closes. However, where one door closes, another exciting one opens! Times of faith-stretching are painful and uncomfortable, but the end result is well worth it all. When the Lord shaves something out of our lives, He is making room for something else...maybe it looks nothing like the original, but God knows so much more about what we really need.
Jesus amazes me. He amazes me with His unexplainable, incomprehensible love for His children, even when their hearts are nowhere near completely devoted to Him. Why does He love us so much? Why does He pursue us and long for us to know Him more? What have we done or what could we ever do to deserve His precious, incredible love? I find myself more astounded each day that He could love us so completely and elaborately and desire our hearts above all other things. I pray that each of us would take time out to re-evaluate life's priorities and allow Him to show us in new ways the extravagant life of love and purpose He has for each one of us. Is there really any better way to live?
We were created to live in fellowship with each other. God said in Genesis that "it is not good that man should be alone." We truly can only grow in our relationship with the Lord so far without the encouragement, challenging, and accountability of other believers. In America we are very individualistic and often miss out on this important truth. One beautiful thing I saw in Botswana is that people really value community and being in relationship with each other. "Doing" comes second to "being"...there is far more value placed on being with others than in doing things.
I have to admit that this is a lifestyle I can relate to well. You see, God created me to be a relational person. Friendship and fellowship are vital in my life. When I was in Botswana in March, I had to take a spiritual gift test and a personality test. I learned a lot about myself by reading the results from these tests. How could that computerized summary pinpoint me so well?? One of the truths found in those results was that I am a relational person by nature, and being with others is very important to me. I've seen this to be especially true in my spiritual life, where I have more of an excitement and passion in my walk with the Lord when I am walking it out with others, with us challenging and encouraging each other along the way.
What I am realizing is that during the last few months, I have been very busy "doing", especially with packing and moving, working, and being focused on getting my daily to-do list completed. In doing that, I have not taken the needed time to really enjoy just fellowshipping with others, praying with them, reading the Word with them, etc. I believe I am seeing the results of this now as I walk through this current season feeling somewhat spiritually dry and alone. God has shown me the importance of running to Him and finding my strength and joy in Him first, but He has also been showing me the importance of living in community with the brothers and sisters of Christ He has surrounded me with.
I am so thankful that the Lord is opening my eyes so clearly to His truths. I cherish the times He has given me to fellowship with others recently and am truly seeing the value in making those times a priority. Thank you for your prayers and encouragement. This season in my life is full of a roller-coaster of emotions, but walking it out is so much more enjoyable as I do so among each of you.