It’s too much work for me to try to keep up two blogs. You can see it’s been quite a while since I posted here.
That said, if you’re interested, you can check out my personal blog, justlifealongtheway.blogspot.com. (Sorry, adding a link directly isn’t working at the moment.) I usually write at least once a week.
Happy New Year, all!
For we walk by faith, not by sight. – 2 Corinthians 5:7
We know following the Lord involves faith. And faith, by definition, cannot be based on what we see or feel. It’s based on what we know.
So how do we walk by faith? How do I walk by faith?
There are times His leading doesn’t make sense to me; I don’t “see” why. Sometimes I see my circumstances, and I would choose to handle them differently. You know what I mean?
There are also times when my feelings don’t line up nicely with what He’s leading me to do. At the risk of sounding like a bad missionary, I confess: There was a time (not so long ago) when I quite honestly just didn’t feel like going to West Africa.
I don’t always feel excited and totally passionate or even ready for this next step. (Wait, aren’t missionaries supposed to be that way? Excited to follow God to the ends of the earth and totally passionate about what He is doing?) I don’t feel like leaving my home, my family, my friends, my church. I don’t feel like learning another language, living in a hot, humid climate, or being surrounded by poverty and dirt and bugs.
No, I don’t always feel excited about leaving and all that it entails. God doesn’t necessarily command me not to feel those things, but He calls me to walk by faith and not by my feelings. At some point I must choose to trust Him and obey.
You see, walking by faith isn’t the absence of human emotion or reason; it is obeying God even when what He asks us to do goes contrary to those things. Faith is in what we know, not in what we see or feel.
So if you ask me if I’m excited to leave in less than two months? I may or may not be, depending on the day. But I’m going. As God continues to lead, I’m going. And He’ll be with me.
Faith is in what we know – God’s character.
This past week I went to the travel clinic. Four shots down and two more to go!
I found out I will need to apply for a visa. That process is now in motion.
I’ve been brainstorming a “things to bring” list and emailing various people on the field for their advice.
Thankfully, I’ve also had some welcome breaks…
Well, that’s all for now. Much more in the weeks to come!
I’m rapidly approaching the two-month countdown. It’s hard to wrap my mind around the fact that, in just a little over two months, I will be living an ocean away. Such a big change obviously creates a lot of work and busyness…
This past week, I got back from a visit to the Missionary Training Center. That was a really special time. Each friend I was able to see was an encouragement. Yes, it was hard to say goodbye when I know I won’t see most of these people for another four years (at least), but I’m thankful for the time I did have there.
Since getting back, I’ve played a little bit of catch-up: correspondence, papers to sort and file, laundry, etc. You know the drill.
Now that I’m not working, my main focus will be on preparing to leave (to move!). What does that look like? Well, here’s a sample of next week’s goals:
- go to travel clinic for more shots
- get together with a couple friends
- research things to bring (clothing, household items, tech stuff, etc.)
- buy plane ticket (hopefully!)
Each little step brings me closer to West Africa!
Okay, so we typically think of an era as a longer period of time, but I’m going to pretend it can work equally work to describe three months.
This Friday, after three months of working as a cashier, I turned in my orange apron. It feels a weird to be planning for a week without work. Now I have even more time to cram to the full! (Oh, dear…)
So, you may be wondering, “If you’re not leaving for Senegal until August, why are you quitting your job now?” Good question! I asked myself that, too. But after thinking and praying about it, I know that now was the right time to quit. There’s a long list of what needs to be done before I’m ready to leave, and I believe God wants me to focus on that.
This job was an answer to prayer. I’m thankful for His perfect timing, for great supervisors and a cool bunch of coworkers - and for also for His leading in when to quit. His hand has been obvious in each step so far, and I know it will be in this next step, too.
“So…what will you be doing with all your free time?” Another good question. To give you an idea of what is on the afore-mentioned list, here’s a snapshot:
- Get vaccinations. (I still have several more to go.)
- Compile a packing list.
- Find/purchase items on packing list.
- Buy a new laptop and any other necessary tech-y stuff.
- Find tickets.
- Visit with friends and family…who I won’t get to see for several years.
- Paperwork (shot records, a will, etc.).
- And more!
Please pray that I won’t get so caught up in doing and checking things off my cool list that I forget to walk with God.
A job, that’s what’s new!
I had an interview at a local home improvement store last week, and they offered me a part-time position. I haven’t started yet, and I don’t know the details of my schedule, but it’s exciting to see my prayers finally answered.
The Lord’s hand in this is really clear to me, for several reasons. First – it’s not the kind of job that would have first entered my mind to try for, but they were hiring, so I applied. They called me back and I stumbled through the preliminary questionaire. (On-the-spot questions? over the phone? with a complete stranger? Not my forte!) “Well, it sure wouldn’t be a surprise if they don’t call me back!” But they did. And they asked me to come in for an interview. When I did go for the interview, they offered me a position on the spot – which I certainly hadn’t expected.
‘Tis the season for a little year-in-review!
I spent three weeks in Missouri packing, cleaning my apartment, and saying good-bye to my friends at the Missionary Training Center and church. This wasn’t how I pictured spending those weeks. I’d planned to join my class in Oklahoma for the final part of our linguistics training. But linguistics is not my gift; that had become pretty clear. So, after praying about it, I decided not to continue with the course. Those weeks in Missouri gave me the chance to meet with some folks from West Africa, including one of the field leaders. That was a big encouragement and a confirmation that the Lord was leading me in that direction!
February – May –
It was a blur of job-hunting and settling into a new normal. But it was also a time of seeing God answer prayers: I had my interview with the West Africa leadership in April, and got my official invitation to the field. Around the same time, I found a job for the Summer…after over a year of praying for work! Neither waiting for a field nor a job was easy, but God’s answers and timing are always perfect.
Being a part of Sunday School again was also great! I love the kids. They’re like sponges, soaking everything up.
June and July –
I lost track of how many batches of cookies I made, how many stacks of plates I saw (and washed), or how many times we had barbecued hamburgers. But I do remember how my boss liked to sneak up behind us and scare us. I remember joking with the other kitchen staff and taking hikes with my roommate and sharing our life stories.
The whole camp experience was a new one for me, but it was a snake-free Summer, so all was well.
August and September –
Hurray for Summer-y things like a church picnic and an outdoor craft sale with a friend! Other happenings: settling in at home again, starting Firm Foundations in Sunday school, visits with friends, and wedding preparations.
…In which I traveled the farthest East I’d ever been. Three states in 10 days! Well, six states if you count my layovers. I had a few days to visit my Mom’s side of the family in Maryland: her very fun aunt and uncle; several cousins and their families; and my 94-year-old great grandma (whom I’d never met before). Aunt Linda even drove me up to West Virginia to see my grandpa.
Then I flew to Florida for a week-long workshop called “Sharpening Your Interpersonal Skills.” Wow, was that a worthwhile week! It was refreshing, encouraging, challenging, and fun at the same time. While I was there, I got to visit a classmate from the MTC. I hadn’t seen her in over a year, and it was so fun to catch up. (Made me wish she lived closer!)
My youngest sister, Sarah, got married. It was a lovely day, thanks to many friends and family members who helped and/or joined us to celebrate!
Our Thanksgiving was a relatively quiet one, which was nice after all the busyness and excitement of the wedding.
More job hunting (no interviews…yet), more visiting, and a quiet Christmas.
* * *
It’s hard to believe 2012 is almost history…
I wish the Lord’s blessings on each of you in 2013!
The song Labor of Love has been a favorite of mine this Christmas season.
It was not a silent night…
The town was full with those who had come to be registered for Caesar’s census. The crowded inn left them with no other choice than a stable. No soft bed. No room to call their own.
And gentle lullabies from cattle lowing in the stalls? – Hardly.
No midwife…no mother’s hand to hold…
Perhaps it all seemed wrong. This was no place, no way to give birth to a baby. Especially not this One.
…The baby in her womb, He was the maker of the moon
He was the Author of the Faith that could make the mountains move…
Could they understand the full impact of the miracle they were a part of?
…And the stable was not clean…
I think of the farm I used to work at. I picture the barn, with its hay, its layers of dust, and its musty smells. This is no place for a woman to give birth. My mind’s eye goes to the trough where we’d put hay for the goats. That is no place for a newborn. But it was in a manger – a feeding trough – that she put her baby, our King.
Sometimes I can hardly wrap my mind around the fact that God, the Maker of heaven and earth and us, chose to be born in such humble circumstances.
But I love that He did.