How beautiful on the mountains are the feet of those who bring good news, who proclaim peace, who bring good tidings, who proclaim salvation, who say to Zion, “Your God reigns!”
After a full week of exams and papers and then Hannah’s graduation today, we’re headed to Belize tomorrow. I feel so unprepared for this trip mentally, but so ready to spend some intentional time with Jesus and His people.
Pray this week for doors to open. For kids without parents to feel love. For police men and women to feel appreciated. For American eyes to be open. And for all of our focus to be on the only thing that matters: Jesus.
Also, I got to be a tiny part of another trip that’s going to be happening over break! Be praying for two Mississippi girls, Kristin and Leah, as they travel to Rafiki (my African home)!! They leave on the 15th (tomorrow!) and will be at the village for three weeks! Pray for safety in travel and health while they’re there. Pray that they get to love on those kiddos and the full-time staff at Rafiki well. Pray that God works in mighty ways in their hearts as He always does when we go outside of our comfort zone and into His awesome world! Pray that being away from home for Christmas will be a blessing and not a hindrance to experiencing all that God has for them.
Love first and always,
You have been a year. You have been a weird year.
You have entwined into my being a true understanding that if it’s not eternal, it’s not of much worth.
You have taught me the power of patience.
You have taught me to live and love life in situations that I don’t love.
You have taught me to be wrong, oh so wrong, and to admit it graciously and repetitively.
You have taught me to speak. Boldly.
You have taught me fearlessness in the midst of great fear.
You have taught me to get out of situations that aren’t right. To chase ones that are. To let go. To let God.
You have once again reminded me how powerful He is.
You have changed me in ways I didn’t want to be changed.
You have grown me beyond where I wanted to grow.
Made me accept and forgive beyond what I was willing.
You have shown me joy. Of children and adults.
You have shown me love. Beyond my wildest dreams.
You have loved me well. In conversations and in actions.
You have taught me to sit back. To let go. To give up.
You have reminded me of Mary. So many times.
Giving up all the craziness of life to do what was “better”. Even when that made no sense to anyone but me.
You have taught me how to fail.
I have lost a school-wide election, ended a relationship, and have no real plans after May.
You taught me to lose. That it isn’t about being the best. That it’s more about love than I’d like to imagine.
Plans are made perfect in the last moment so we can learn to depend on God in each one.
You have taught me that being like Christ is always better than being right.
You have taught me to cling to Jesus. With everything I am.
You have surprised me over and over again and reminded me just how much more I still have to learn.
You have been a year.
A year of growth and dealing with the pains of not yet being “there”, but being good with whatever “there” is today.
Thanks 2012. I owe you.
(a continuation [or update, really] from this post.)
2. Home this week has been my Smash journal with words and pictures and paper stuck together. A nice little compilation of my life lately.
It’s been a couple good conversations with a long lost friend.
It’s been being alone and realizing how good it is to sit at our savior’s feet.
It’s been slowing down.
Home has been work and running to the post office and writing papers and assignments an hour before they’re due.
Home is answered prayers and 10:30 p.m. phone calls.
It has been cute boys in class and Pinterest crafts on a Friday night.
It’s sleeping on the couch until noon and laundry and cleaning and still not being done.
Home has been a morning with 125+ special needs kids at a carnival and the incredible professor who made it happen.
Home was making cookies on Wednesday and praying for a hurting friend.
Home has been good and wild and calm. It’s been exciting and peaceful and consistent and erratic.
It’s been realizing that the world isn’t what I expect it to be, that it won’t ever be, and that’s perfectly alright.
Home is processing and two weeks away from social media and realizing an addiction to other people’s lives.
Home is the reminder of who God is and who I am. It’s loving the lost and losing the pride.
It’s imperfection that makes it perfect and love that makes it worthwhile.
I hope you have a home like mine.
So I changed the title of the blog. For now. At least.
I say for now because I’m still hoping that Africa is in the future and maybe this blog will be used eventually to capture more of that incredible world I had my toe in for way too short of a time.
And maybe then it’ll go back.
But maybe my place is here forever. Wherever here is. But specifically here in the US.
But no matter where I am, two things won’t change.
I’ll still be drinking sweet tea, and I’ll still be telling stories.
(Well, and I’ll still be worshipping Jesus, but I couldn’t find a creative way to fit that into the title.)
So, Sweet Tea Stories, that’s the blog name.
(The URL (www.dotheyhavesweetteainafrica.wordpress.com) is staying the same.)
It’s not even 9p.m. and already my head has found its not-so-familiar-lately place among feathers and dreams on the bed I’ve spent the past two weeks paying the minimum toll to. And my friends have begun again with the jokes about me always wanting sleep. And I feel not-so-much like myself and more like the girl I was back then.
Back when my world was out of order and Jesus was just another thing I scheduled in, like lunch dates on a busy Tuesday when I really didn’t have time for the surface conversation I knew was coming because my tongue wouldn’t let me go where my heart so desperately ached to be.
Back when stress was a constant because my joy was found in the things I did, the activities I loved (and often hated). Back before I ripped my heart in two, away from the good things I had with the small inclination somewhere deep inside that the life I was meant for wasn’t just “good“, hoping upon hope that the Lord would come through, not fully believing that He would. (And in case you’re new here, let me just tell you quick. God has come through. Big Time.)
Today is different. And I’m tired because for two weeks I’ve allowed myself to be pushed back into the busyness. A busyness that isn’t bad, but isn’t me… at least right now. And I reflect and see that the Lord is not only good, but He is faithful and just and merciful and so much more than I deserve. And I thank Him for reminding me of who I want to be today. Reminding me that tomorrow He might have other plans, but right now it’s learning to be still. To sit before Him and simply be.
And I’m so thankful for conversations with the woman who has given me life, and not just on that September afternoon 20 years ago, but again and again as I’ve cried my eyes out to her and she’s held me, sometimes only metaphorically as the distance has made it physically impossible, as my heart has felt broken over and over again.
I’m thankful for the percieved breaks because I’m realizing they aren’t breaks after all. That the tears in the muscle that provides life to my body have only lead one by one closer and closer to Jesus. That the line they know I hate so much and yet continue to say “Your eyes look beautiful when you cry” actually has some validity behind it. And maybe it’s metaphorical. Because I learned in Africa to look for spiritual lessons in every situation, even if it’s peeling potatoes.
He’s reminding me each day that He’s the only one that completely understands all of me. And there’s going to be criticism sometimes, because those people don’t see the big picture. And some days the criticism is the type that you take into your heart and allow to begin a direction change, and other days the words are ones that the Evil One knew were exactly what you didn’t need that hour, that day, or that week. And so it’s exactly what he gives.
And the incredible thing is we serve a God that is there in those moments. He takes every situation in which Satan seems to mess everything up, every situation in which the words of the boyfriend ring out true. “Well, do you believe that Satan attacks harder those who are growing closer to God?” A simple question he asked just when I needed it, as if God Himself was speaking through those lips because He knew that, at that moment, those were the ones my ears were most receptive to. And maybe God allows this to happen to give us a reminder of who He is. That He’s still so much better than anything we can have here in this world. And we need to do nothing more than be still and know that He is God.
That God really does have a purpose and a plan. And no matter if I’m dreaming of the future, He is faithful now. And He’s faithful to provide. To remind me in situations where my eyes have the chance of moving away from Him that He is the only thing keeping me going. And I’ve unplugged my IV drip to the world, and I just can’t take it back. Because I’ve chosen Jesus and He’s what I get. Thank the Lord for that.
I was reading through posts from Uganda the other day and thinking about how much God has done. I have loved being home in many ways, but it’s also difficult sometimes because I left a nice chunk of my heart across the ocean. But God is doing big things here too. And I’m focusing on that this week, this month, and this year. A few weeks ago in a bible study I’m in, we went around talking about places we had seen God work in the past week. I sat in complete awe of the Lord as each girl shared how God had answered her prayer requests from the previous week, and most of them were answered in ways we couldn’t have expected or didn’t ask for. Truly the affectual prayers of the righteous availeth much. How good is our God.
So here’s another thankfulness post. More for me than anything. Mostly as a reminder that God is sovereign and He is here. He is alive and active. And I am His.
I’m thankful for churches that are speaking the Word, and not settling for “good enough”. I’m thankful for revival in this country and in our hearts. I’m thankful the state of the world is not what it looks like on the news, (as well as being thankful that I don’t watch the news often. it’s a scary place.) I’m thankful that we serve a God who has already got it all figured out. I’m thankful for our bible study group. A little idea I had in Uganda has turned into a weekly meeting of a group of incredible girls. It’s a fun time of fellowship where we’re able to be real and we’re learning what it means to walk with the Lord each day.
I’m thankful for a college campus where faith is integrated into life and education. I’m thankful for professors who we can ask tough questions and get wise guidance.
I’m thankful for efforts of social justice. I’m thankful that people are doing God’s work, even when it’s not in His name. I’m thankful for the things I don’t understand. The things I can’t understand. I’m thankful that even when I disagree with leaders or movements within the church or Christian organizations, we can know ultimately that God’s name is being glorified.
I’m thankful that it’s not all about me. Because pride and self confidence is a lot of weight to wear on your shoulders. I’m thankful that God is working to show me where those areas in my life are. I’m thankful to be surrounded by people who love Him. I’m thankful to have opportunities to love on people. People who know Him and people who don’t.
I’m so very thankful for an incredible support system. For my family and friends. For my dad and mom and sister and brother. For my grandparents. Uncles, aunts, and cousins. I’m so incredibly thankful and undeserving of the incredible group of people that God has given me to love and be in relationship with. I’m thankful for my friends. For the best “best friends” I could possibly ask for. For the most wonderful boyfriend. For new friendships and rebuilding and renewing of long-lasting friendships.
I’m thankful for my bible study girls. For my time each week with incredible almost-adults that love Jesus. For little opportunities. For seeing God at work outside of my own contexts. For overcoming and removing obstacles that I thought I would just have to deal with. For passion to know you and make you known.
I’m thankful for Rafiki and for email and letters. Thankful that we can still communicate even far, far away (although I’ve been a terrible communicator lately!). Thankful that God is just as big in Uganda and the far corners of the world as He is here in Clinton, Mississippi.
I’m so very thankful for answered prayers. For an understanding that God really is working for the good of those who love Him. For requests that were only voiced within my head or heart being provided for in miraculous ways. For problems I thought were impossible or unanswerable being made into beautiful stories of redemption.
But most of all, I’m thankful for the cross. For the blood that was poured out. For the nails in His hands. Thankful that He died for me. And doesn’t just leave it at that, but pursues a relationship with me each and every day. Regardless of anything I do or don’t do.
What are you thankful for this week?