Sunday, November 21, 2010

Ultimate Calling

"Calling is the truth that God calls us to Himself so decisively that everything we are, everything we do, and everything we have is invested with a special devotion and dynamism lived out as a response to his summons and service. Calling is the most comprehensive reorientation and the most profound motivation in human experience-the ultimate why for living in all history. Calling begins and ends such ages, and lives of faith by pacing the final aim of life beyond the world where it was meant to be. Answering the call is the way to find and fulfill the central purpose of your life..." (Os Guiness' The Call, p. 4, 6-7)
I've been thinking a lot lately about calling and what my life will look like after Nikki's death. My sister made me look at my relationship with the Creator, made me take a deeper glance at the most important part of my life, and is pushing me forward towards the Father. I'm afraid. I'm nervous at what this life is made up of. Last week was a series of major highs and today was a reminder of the more difficult parts of this walk... through suffering. I am returning to Ethiopia as a medical provider after a really miraculous change of plans, authored by the Lord. After a lot of thought, I'm going to let Him lead... and right now, that looks like long term missionary service overseas. I'm waiting for further confirmation but I recognize time plays a major role in all of this. At the moment, God is employing one of His greatest teachers- time- in order to enlarge my heart and expand my vision. This is the hard work of Isaiah 26:3, the submissive discipline of keeping my mind "stayed" on the Lord, trusting Him in ways I cannot see or understand, in places where I must learn to be content with mystery. All I want is for Christ to receive the glory, whatever that looks like. I praise Him in this storm... today is 5 months since her death... and I weep and call out to Him, for He delivers me into His precious and glorious light. I was called to praise my Maker, to share it with those that desire to listen, and step closer to Him as I encounter this pain. Thanks for reading...

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

The Tapestries of Our Lives

I have recently read a book by Paula Rinehart titled "Strong Women, Soft Hearts." This book really helped me identify what was happening in my heart and encouraged me to stay open, to stay vulnerable...
She writes, "You know you're an adult when you start to realize that some sorrows in life will never go away. You learn to carry them with you in ways that enrich rather than debilitate your life, in ways that make you wise. But the dark and knubbly places in the fabric, the tapestry of your life, remain. It matters where you go from here. It matters to you and to everyone you love. It matters to God. For the secret you stumble on is that if, once hurt, you open your heart and let God take you by the hand, he will lead you to a better place than you have known. Not necessarily easier, but a place of freedom and even joy. Pain is a special province of the heart. And in the providence of a merciful God, he is able to convert it to something golden. Something good. There are inevitable losses in life. But there is one thing you do not have to lose- your heart. Some tragedies, [like the death of Nikki], cannot be prevented. but the tragedy of losing heart can."
Friends, I urge you to keep your hearts open, letting the Lord do the work that He needs in order to bring restoration to your life. We live in a world that is terribly broken, yet there is light. When God seems silent and distant, we take comfort that He is near us. "The scandal of God's silence in the most heartbreaking hours of our journey is perceived in retrospect as veiled tender Presence and a passage into pure trust that is not at the mercy of the response it receives."- Brennan Manning
Since Nikki's death, I'm feeling the desire to serve back in Africa. After Ethiopia and Egypt, I am even more drawn to that continent. I will be graduating in May and then... who knows. Please keep me in your prayers as I look into a few possibilities- in the near future as well as long term.
Lord, I pray for these fellow readers tonight, that whatever is going on in their lives, they listen to Your voice, resisting the temptation to close off their hearts out of fear. Thank you for being near to us when hope sometimes seems lost. We rejoice in our coming Savior. Heal our wounded hearts and bring us closer to You. Amen.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Give Him time...

I have been so encouraged by Amy Carmichael's wisdom throughout these last few years. She writes, "We say, then, to anyone who is under trial, give Him time to steep the soul in His eternal Truth. Go into the open air, look up into the depths of the sky, or out upon the wideness of the sea, or on the strength of the hills that is His also; or, if bound in the body, go forth in the spirit; spirit is not bound. Give him time and, as surely as dawn follows night, there will break upon the heart a sense of certainty that cannot be shaken." Reading many of your stories these past few days have brought me to tears on multiple occasions. Thanks so much for sharing your hearts with me, what an incredible honor! We take comfort in a God that knows our stories so intimately. He challenges us with a gentleness that only the Spirit of God can provide. He can tear us from Satan's grasp with such force and with such incredible passion- praise God that He has conquered death with His life! Jesus is taking our hands and teaching us His incredible love through our suffering. I do not doubt it! From the garden to the empty tomb, He is forever changing our hearts- he has rewritten death!
"Lead me in your truth and teach me, for you are the God of my salvation; for you I wait all the day long." -Psalm 25:5

Monday, November 1, 2010

I began this blog in an attempt to engage my heart with the suffering that the Lord has brought me through these past few months. My beloved sister, Nikki went to be with our Lord on June 21, 2010. Since then, I have been learning about grief and how my life is changing because of it. The loss of my sister has altered the course of my life, forever changing the dreams I had before the accident. It happened. She died when I thought life was just getting started. Death interrupted and changed everything. Yet, somehow, there is light- and it is shining in the depths of the darkness. Somehow, Christ has taken my hand, letting me curl up on His lap, and is whispering to me how He will never leave me. Never. He gives me the power to grow up- to continue sharing about His love with other sinners. He is dearly loving me and it is amazing.
I do not believe I lost my sister in order that I might change for the better. I still want her back. I still want to laugh and cry with her like before. I do believe, however, that Christ is taking this part of my story to show me what grace is all about and it is changing my heart, transforming me into the woman He created me to be. He has taken death and is giving it life.
I have never felt so much pain as I have in the last several months. Never have I been so aware of my weakness and vulnerability; yet never have I felt so secure and protected. My soul is stretching. It is being kneaded and molded into something beautiful. I am becoming aware of the power of God’s grace and my absolute need and dependence upon it. Praise God, for it is giving me the courage to share the gospel with my family with a boldness that I never knew I had in me, and it is allowing me to cry out with tears of joy of the glory that is coming... AND IT IS COMING- with a fire and passion that will forever change everything! God will continue to extend His presence that I feel now into all of eternity. He is growing my soul and filling it with Himself. Jerry Sittser, another fellow believer that has suffered catastrophic loss writes, “Loss can diminish us, but it can also expand us. It depends, once again, on the choices we make and the grace we receive. Loss can function as a catalyst to transform us. It can lead us to God, the only One who has the desire and power to give us life.” Grace is blowing my world wide open- what a gift to have all of you, sweet community of believers banding together in one of my darkest moments.
Thank you to all of you who continue to lift me up in prayer. Thank you for your kindness, your tender hugs, and your willingness to step into this mess with me. It is going to be a long road ahead, but I am less afraid knowing you are all on this road with me, letting Christ be our guide. I pray that God uses my story to help shape His work in your stories. Praise God, for He is alive. Believe it, for He is working! For those of you that are also experiencing deep pain and loss, hold tight to the Lover of your Heart. He is there with you.