Tuesday, October 17, 2017

You're Exactly Where You're Supposed to Be.



    It was a simple text but it was a text that I needed to hear (er well, read) more than I am sure my friend’s friend knew. I had some friends visiting about a week ago. After they left, my one friend’s friend sent me a text saying it was good to see me again and that she would be praying for me when she thought of me. She added, “You’re exactly where you're supposed to be”.
   Sometimes life for me here looks like picturesque cliff walks, talking and laughing with people, attending conferences for ministry leaders, playing “Land, Sea, and Shore” during kids clubs, consuming more bread and ice cream than any human being should on a daily basis, sitting around with teenagers talking about prayer, and getting to know people better/building friendships through late night chats or while walking through cities and beach towns.
   Other times life for me here is not so picturesque. It’s bursting into tears when it hits me how much I miss my close friends from home. It’s questioning if I have what it takes to do full-time ministry. It’s wondering overall if spending this much time away from the town I grew up in will be worth it. Was it worth it to leave my job and the kids I loved working with?  Should I have stayed? Will I have close friends while I'm here? It's longing to just hop on a plane and just spend 15 mins with my entire family, including those cousins that feel more like siblings than cousins and visit one of my favorite parks back home. It’s aching to hop in my car, put on some music and just drive through country back roads or at least drive myself to the gym rather than take a dart then a bus just to get to my gym.
    I’ve had friends tell me that they are proud of me and praying for me. I’ve had friends tell me that I’m where God wants me. For whatever reason though, I actually heard my friend’s friend when she told me I was exactly where I was supposed to be. Maybe it was because I didn’t believe it was true those first few times. Maybe my heart was still hardened to the idea that God might have a purpose and reason for bringing me here when He did. Who knows?
   For all the times these past 4 months I’ve wanted to pack up and call it quits and go back to pursuing my own plans, I’m actually beginning to believe that God’s plan for me here will be worth it and better than what I had in mind. He has already and is going to continue to push me out of my comfort zone in ways that make my skin crawl. He is going to open my eyes to the world around me more and teach me more about putting others before myself. I’m still going to feel inadequate as a leader, it’s still going to hurt that my closest friends are in a completely different country thousands of miles away, I’m not always going to be understanding about why God brought me to Ireland when He did and I’m still going to miss my car and be frustrated that I can’t drive while I’m here. However God will give me strength, comfort and energy because I am exactly where I am supposed to be, exactly where He wants me to be.
     So today, if you are questioning why you are where you are or feeling underqualified to do the things that God is asking you to do today. Know that if He has paved the way for you to do what He is asking of you, He will give you all you need and He will strengthen you and comfort you. You are exactly where you are supposed to be.

And my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus. To our God and Father be glory for ever and ever. Amen"-Philippians 4:19-20

Hope you have a great week!

~Amy

Sunday, August 13, 2017

Idolizing Strangers and Finding Identity in the Wrong Places

 
   

I leaned back and pressed forward into the door again while turning the key. I turned it right. I turned it left then right then tried again. It still didn’t open. “Oh come on” I thought to myself. “I’m hungry and tired. I just want to get into this house.” I put my heavy bag of groceries on the ground, took a deep breath and tried the key again. Still no luck. The sun felt particularly heavy as it streamed through the glass door behind me.
     I tried the bottom lock. It didn’t work. Maybe I should call Carla?*she did say I could give her a ring if I needed anything. I spent about 3 minutes just starring at my phone. Not wanting to call her. I didn’t want to have a stupid question about the house after I just moved in. Yet, here I was locked out of my own house not because I did not have a key but because I could not figure out how to open the dang door. I told myself that I needed to just get used to looking dumb and asking questions then begrudgingly gave my housemate a ring. It went to her answering machine. I hung up and put my phone in back pocket. Okay, think really hard. She showed you how to unlock the door. Just try to remember.  She said something about the locks. What was it again? I thought to myself. I tried again. I put the key on the bottom lock and heard a series of clicks then tried the top lock and turned the key to the left. Still nothing. I’m ashamed to say that this went on for about 10 more minutes and then it hit me. Wait! The top lock is only locked, the bottom is always unlocked. You need to turn the key to the right to unlock it not to the left. I remembered. I put the lock in the bottom one and turned it so it was unlocked then I went to the top lock and turned it right. The door popped open. I breathed a sigh of relief, grabbed my groceries off the ground and headed inside. 

     This is just one of the many mistakes that I have made since I have moved here. I have said things I should not have said because over here they do not mean the same thing as they mean in America. (If you ever visit, let me know so I can give you heads up about what those things are and save you from the embarrassment :) ) I have forgotten to bring enough reusable bags to SuperValu and have found myself trying to stuff as many groceries as possible in one bag all the while trying to appear composed and calm as a box of cereal and bags of rocket/lettuce topple out over the top.
      I have never felt so self-conscious in my life. I am one that likes to blend in. I like to go unnoticed out in public and I like not feeling slightly embarrassed in grocery stores. I don’t like wondering if the people on the dart think I’m tourist and then feeling this need to prove otherwise.  I don’t like worrying constantly if I am going to say or do the right thing.  
      Someone told me once that the things that we let consume our thoughts the most are the things that we idolize the most. Within just one week of being more officially moved in, I found myself getting ready in the mornings thinking constantly about what I was wearing and if what I was wearing would help me blend in on my commute into town. I began comparing myself to some of the Irish girls in city centre. I would compare my appearance to theirs and think about how I would never measure up to them and I sure would never get any of the Irish guys to look twice at me if they are always surrounded by women that look like that. I know these things are awful and shallow but these are the thoughts that I found myself unexpectedly consumed by. Before I knew it I was idolizing what strangers thought of me. It’s one thing to worry if people you know will like you but here I was constantly worrying what complete strangers would think of me if they saw me or talked to me. I felt like I hit a whole new low.
      I have to remind myself that the reality is that I was not born here and I am going to make loads of mistakes because I don’t know what’s expected without observing and asking questions. I can wear whatever I think will make me blend in the most but I'm still an American. I’m going to stick out and I am going to be asked  time and time again if I am away on Holiday. I was reminded this past week that my identity is ultimately in Christ. My identity does not lie in whether or not I fit in or blend in the background. My identity does not lie in whether or not I have the approval of strangers. My identity does not lie in being an American either. My identity lies in being a daughter of God.
      You would think that after 9 years of being a Christian I would understand that what matters is not how others see me but how Christ sees me. Unfortunately though I’m a forgetful daughter and need to be reminded time and time again of the things that really matter. Fortunately though, God doesn’t give up on his forgetful children. Instead, he is patient and gracious with them even when they don’t let him consume their thoughts, the way they should. He is constant and still there when I get off track and begin to idolize things I shouldn’t idolize. He reminds me my identity is in Christ when I place my identity in the wrong places. It is only with Christ that I can I put all these self-focused thoughts aside and focus on loving the people around me. It is only with Christ that I can care about the strangers I see and focus on how I can show Christ to them in some small way rather than worry if they think I’m good enough, pretty enough, city enough or not a tourist.
     So if you find yourself consumed by selfish thoughts, idolizing approval or acceptance, remember whose you are and remember that you are made in the image of God. He has approved you. He has accepted you. Share with Him that you are wrestling with those things. He can help you focus outward instead of inward.

Have a great week!

~Amy 
"See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called the children of God and that is what we are!" -1 John 3:1

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Mourning over Chipotle and Rita's

   Normally when I think of missions, I think of sacrifice. I think of Jim Elliot who went to Ecuador to reach the Huaorani people. I think of Amy Carmichael who left everything familiar behind and went to India and opened up an orphanage. I think of Hudson Taylor who went to China to share the Gospel. All these people have had to sacrifice much more than I have had to. All these people had more reasons to be afraid of where they were headed.
 I have learned that no matter where you go and no matter how excited you are to experience the things the country you are going to has to offer there is a grieving process and a transition process that isn't always easy. I have learned that sometimes as petty as it sounds, laying down your life doesn't mean literally going somewhere you may lose your life but it means giving up summer shorts and tank tops, Rita's, Chipotle, Taco Bell and Chic-fil-A.  It's accepting the fact that you won't have the freedom to get in your car whenever you want and drive around your favorite park. It's accepting the fact that you cannot date for a whole year. You have been single for a year before but somehow knowing that you really can't date at all for a year makes that year of not dating seem worse than it probably will be. It's the realization that you won't experience 80-90 degree weather for 2 years. I could go on and list more but I won't.
 It's silly little things but the realization that you won't have them does makes a difference and you learn that no matter how safe a country is, you still go through loss and you still do sacrifice. I have realized that it is okay to grieve over those things no matter how silly they may be.

If you're reading this and have ever had to make some type of major transition or have been in a similar boat as I am, I hope that this could bring you comfort in someway just by seeing you're not alone in what your facing. If you're diving into a long-term overseas commitment, know that it's okay to grieve the silly things.

I am grateful to all my family, friends and supporters who have been with me through this process as my deployment date draws closer. I really mean it when I say I couldn't do this without you. Thank you!

Have a great week,

Amy



Saturday, January 7, 2017

What The Heck, Do I Even Know of Holy?

    

    Sometimes I worry when my pursuit of holiness feels like such a roller coaster that I’m not good enough to be a “real” Christian but that’s not how grace works. The Christian life is not perfect, it is meant to be filled with ups and downs, because well, just because you’re a Christian it does not mean that you are perfect. Nor does it mean that you have it altogether. The difference is that you have hope and you have a strength that is not of your own that can help you through the ups and downs. The truth is you are going to make choices that you know are unwise because you are human and you are going to have moments were you don’t want to do the “right” thing but you choose to do the “right” thing anyways. Paul explains this ongoing battle perfectly in Romans 7:15-25:
“I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do. 16 And if I do what I do not want to do, I agree that the law is good. 17 As it is, it is no longer I myself who do it, but it is sin living in me. 18 For I know that good itself does not dwell in me, that is, in my sinful nature.[a] For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. 19 For I do not do the good I want to do, but the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing. 20 Now if I do what I do not want to do, it is no longer I who do it, but it is sin living in me that does it.
21 So I find this law at work: Although I want to do good, evil is right there with me. 22 For in my inner being I delight in God’s law; 23 but I see another law at work in me, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within me. 24 What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body that is subject to death? 25 Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord!”

I think that when you are a Christian, it takes you your entire life to grow. It is as the Holy Spirit works in your heart, that you can begin to actually want to do the “right” thing. It is Christ who makes a Christian “holier”, it is him alone that makes a person pure. There is nothing in a single Christian in this entire planet that has anything in them without Christ to make them pure or holy. It is grace alone that saves and grace alone that sustains. I think that while grace can lead believers (myself included) to feel like they can do whatever they want because they are covered by grace, it can be easy for some people to diminish grace and not want to talk about it, in fears that the message will get lost and people will go jumping off the deep end left and right because grace has them covered. That’s not the right mindset either though. Grace is why Jesus came to save people. Grace is how people are saved and grace is what God offers us every single day.
So if you've ever felt in the same boat as me, give yourself grace and remind yourself where your strength comes from and where your hope is found. 

Saturday, December 24, 2016

Why There Is Hope When You're Not Feeling Too 'Merry or Bright'


Christmas is time when it feels like the whole world is full of joy. People seem a little bit more cheerful. Your neighborhood is filled with colorful, twinkly lights. People become more unified and choose set their differences aside. Everyone feels a little bit more in love with life and it seems like their heart is bursting with joy.
  But for you those feelings may not be there this Holiday season. Maybe there's an empty seat around your dinner table this year. Maybe everywhere you look in your life lately all you see is hard things and change. Maybe you are happy with your life but as you have gotten older, you have become more aware of the fact that the holidays are not a happy time for everyone so you feel happy and thankful but yet your heart still feels heavy.
 It's tempting to call yourself a "Scrooge" and  worry that you're not enjoying this season the way you are supposed to. I think that in the moments this season when we do feel a little more weary, have trouble being grateful for circumstances and feel a bit more pain, we have an opportunity to appreciate what Christmas is about. When we are hurting or become so deeply aware of the need in this world for healing and redemption, we can be reminded of the hope that was given to us. The hope that is found in Jesus Christ, the Savior sent to save the entire world. We can find hope in knowing that these days will come to an end and that one day there will be no more pain or suffering (Revelation 21:1-4) And that, I believe is a beautiful thing and a thing worth thinking on today. So maybe in the times when we are more frustrated or discouraged with the world and life here, we are able to appreciate more the life that is offered in Jesus and can rejoice in the hope that we have in him.

I hope you all have a wonderful Holiday and a Happy New Year!
-Amy

"Praise be to the Lord, the God of Israel, because he has come and has redeemed his people. He has raised up a horn of salvation for us in the house of his servant David"-Luke 1:68-69

Sunday, December 4, 2016

Whole World Outside Yourself

Every day another addict dies
Another victim has their life ripped away
Another loved one is lost,
by a neighborhood gun
by a fight at the park

It's so much; it burdens my heart
so many people, deeply hurting
walking around with no idea why they're breathing
so they take and they take
they do as they please

And I sit on the sofa
count all the casualties
I go about my day
I do as I please

Something tells me
This shouldn't be
I know I don't have all the connections
I don't have enough money
To rescue all the innocent lives taken in lands far away

But there's got to be something
Something I can do through Jesus
To help the numbers decrease
or at least share with them about him,
so they know why they breathe

I will not sit back and twiddle my thumbs
as another heroin addict in my town passes away
I will not read that article on Relevant
Say, "that's so awful" then move on to see if I have any notifications

I don't know what I'll do
I don't have all the answers
But I know I'm done sitting back,
keeping to myself,
as these numbers increase

So I'll pray for a way
I can do something more
And I'll ask the Lord to show me, where I should go from here

So use me Lord
I am Yours,
Use me how You want to
On my own, I will break
On my own, I will give up
But help me to dwell on you
Cling to You,
Love people each day
Remind me that there's a whole world outside myself.

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

My God




My is the God of merices that are new every morning
My God is a God whose in the business of
healing
offering hope
fighting for justice

My God is the God whose perfect word endures forever
His promises are true
His love is everlasting and runs deep
His glory is indescribable

My God is the God of conquering mountains
Yes, even the mountains quake at the sound of His name
The oceans part
The storms are calmed

My God is the God of creation
He has crafted together every human, plant and animal life
Arranged the stars in the sky
Painted the skies with vibrant colors
Separated the sky from the sea
Wove together every part of me

My God is a God of beautiful architecture
Every mountain carefully sculpted by Him with His bare hands
My God is a God who takes my messes and uses even them for His glory
He takes my brokenness and makes me whole
He hears my cries and comforts me
He gives me rest when I am restless
He gives me joy and brings my anxious heart to peace

My God is a God who gives strength to the weary
He helps them walk so they will not grow faint
My God is a God who refines me with fire
Through troubles and hardships He refines me
He uses them to deepen my faith
To make me holier, to make me look like Christ

My God is the God of new beginnings
of love that endures forever
He is wiser than any man
He reigns over all kings and kingdoms
His righteousness is higher than any other
His holiness is uncomprehendable

My God is a God who lets sunbeams shine on my face
Who gives me gentle breezes on warm summer days
Who gives me windows down, music blaring, hair blowing in the breeze carefree days
He's a giver of uncontrollable laughter
kind words and motivation
tall, yellow sunflowers
people to love on and recieve love from
sweet songs, sad songs and songs that make me feel whole as they remind me to rest in Him

He is a Father who knows what's best for his child
Even though sometimes she would beg to differ
He is still patient, loving and full of wisdom
Even when I stray
He does not run away
No, instead He's still there with His arms wide open, waiting for me

He is a God that teaches me to walk by faith and not by sight
To not be afraid
He is the God of angel Armies
always by my side

His ways are good, true and pure
Though that is not always easy to see
He's a God that's in the business of restoration and redemption
of 2nd and 15th chances and forgiveness

He reminds me that I do not have to be ashamed or afraid
for man cannot define me
man cannot own me
man cannot destroy me

No, He will not leave
He is always with me
He rebukes me
He tests me
and He loves me