Leaving in less than 24 hours

20 12 2009

I absolutely love how the Lord provides. This time, I was crunched for time. I had no idea how I was going to get everything finished to come home, yet I got everything on my to-do list done and then some.

Which is AMAZING! Because I leave my town in less than 24 hours to take the train to Sapporo, stay the night and then fly out for PORTLAND on Tuesday! I can’t wait for Christmas. So much so that I was going to burst if I didn’t watch A Christmas Story (which isn’t quite the same without Mandie sitting next to me).

So in honor of my favorite Christmas movie:

“I can’t put my arms down!”

“Oh Fudge!!!”

“You’ll shoot your eye out”

“He looks like a deranged Easter bunny . . . like a pink nightmare.”

“You used up all the glue ON PURPOSE!”

“Fra-gi-lee . . . must be Italian”

If anyone wants to join Mandie and I on our Christmas eve tradition of watching it, one of the cable channels always has it on for 24 (or maybe 12) hours straight before Christmas.

Merry Christmas!!!

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Childlike faith

29 11 2009

Today I attended my amazing Japan church. We were in Isaiah 7. The king is shaken as he hears that other kingdoms are coming to take them down (that’s me simplifying most of the chapter into one sentence). They were focusing on the things around them rather than focusing on the Lord and knowing that they are ok, because he will take care of them.

As I re-read this in an attempt to begin to work on tonight’s blog, it occurred to me that this is what children do. Something happens and when they aren’t sure how to react, they look to mom or dad. If mom or dad freak out, then they start crying or screaming. If mom or dad are calm, they remain calm.

We’re called to have a childlike faith. So, if we’re supposed to be focusing on the Lord, how should we be reacting to our surroundings? Should we be freaking out? Does the Lord freak out when he hears that someone is coming to “take his chosen down”? No. He knows what’s going to happen. Just as a parent knows whether a kid really needs to cry over the small thing, the Lord knows whether we need to freak out over the things in our life.

We are called to give these things to him and have his peace. He says it over and over and over again in the Word (believe me, I’ve been finding a lot of these references lately – think He’s trying to say something?). But when I actually do what I’m told and look to him, I have more peace than I’ve had in a long time.

He also said (as translated): “Look at God and go to God’s word. Put your heart there. Don’t put your heart where the problem is. That will always bring anxiety. Who can fix a problem by dwelling on it?” It’s time to let go of these things and keep my focus on the Lord. He will provide the answers I need.

One of my favorite worship songs: “Your love is amazing, steady and unchanging, your love is a mountain firm beneath my feet.” I love that. He is unchanging and steady. I just need to hold on to him and he will give me the peace that surpasses all understanding.





Blessings

27 11 2009

Today is the day after Thanksgiving here, but I didn’t really celebrate until today when I got to talk to my extended family on Skype.

So today’s blog is about all the ways the Lord has blessed me, because while it’s hard to be so far away, the Lord has also blessed me in a ton of ways.

In a country where less than 1% of the people are believers, I have a JTE who is not only a believer, but also is willing to bring me along with her to church any Sunday that I’m in town.

Church. Through my JTE I have found an amazing church that has a heart to see people grow in the Lord. Both their own members and to reach out to others in Japan. They also have an American missionary who can translate for me. So I actually understand the message!

Work. I have a job. So many people in the world are struggling to find a job so they can pay bills and support a family. I am able to not only pay my bills, but save and pay down my school debt.

Japanese. I am understanding more and more everyday. With that understanding also comes more ability to communicate with people, which is so exciting.

Friendships here. I have been able to connect with a few of the other teachers in my schools pretty well. They still don’t have the western culture of “hey, want to do something tonight?” but I have been able to have them over and they’ve had me over.

My town. The people here care about me. If I were to voice a problem, they would help me find a solution. They also pay half my ticket home once a year. Which is HUGE.

My supervisor. Her family has adopted me a bit. I get to have dinner with her family tomorrow and she’s taken me with them to Furano several times to shop and go to her son’s baseball games.

Other JETs. I have made some good friendships here and have been able to travel some to see these friends. I haven’t left Hokkaido yet, but there is a whole lot to see even here.

Bible Study. Because of the Christian Jet Fellowship, I was able to get connected with 3 other believers and we have Bible Study every Thursday night. It has been an amazing time to grow in the Lord and build one another up.

My family. I have an incredible family who cares about me a lot.

My home church. Where many of the people not only care enough to pray, but many care enough keep in contact through letters and email.

Friends. I have amazing friends at home who haven’t let the distance get in the way of our friendships.

Skype. I have been able to talk to my family and SEE them despite the fact that I am so far away. It’s hard not to be able to give hugs, but it’s also been wonderful to be able to not only talk to them for free but see them too.

Many of my blogs may be about tough things the Lord has brought me through, but he has also put so many blessings in my life.





Never Look Away

24 11 2009

Yet again, I find myself floored at how a song speaks to me. This song, another by KJ-52, is called Never Look Away. KJ-52 is not an artist I would normally listen to, yet the Lord used it.

“I once was lost but then You found me and loved me
And I’m never gonna look away
No I’m never gonna look away
You paid the cost You showed me how You bought me
And I’m never gonna look away
No I’m never gonna look away”
–Never Look Away (KJ-52 featuring Brynn Sanchez)

There are times when life is difficult and it’s hard to be so far away from all the people that I love. But every time this starts to feel overwhelming, the Lord reminds me that I need to keep looking at him and he will provide for me. Whatever it is I think I need, he will provide what I need. And usually that looks like peace. Peace amidst troubles. Peace amidst worry. Peace against all odds.

“I’m never gonna look away.” So easy to say and intend to mean. But most of the time when the distance feels overwhelming it’s because I’ve not realized I’ve looked away. I start to focus on the worries of this world instead of the things the Lord has promised.

I can do all things in Christ – Philippians 4:13
He has good plans for me with a hope and a future. – Jeremiah 29:11
If I trust in Him with all that I am and don’t lean on my own understanding, he will guide my steps. – Proverbs 3:5-6
Cast all my cares on him, he will take care of them because he cares about me – 1 Peter 5:7
Seek him first and he will supply for my needs – Matthew 6:33
His power works best in my weakness – 2 Corinthians 12:9

These are paraphrased by me. They seem that much more real to me when I repeat things that the Lord has spoken to me in the past and recently.

His provision? It’s here. From making some closer friends here, to finding a JTE who goes to an amazing church. It’s not hard to see. I just have to remember to focus on the things the Lord has done in my life and not let go of those things when the storms of life hit.

Links:
Lyrics
Video





Home

23 11 2009

Today I messaged some friends on the insanely long train on the way back to my apartment. I called it “home.” Does that mean I am becoming more at home here? It took me a while to call college home after moving there for the school year, that town definitely became my home over time. It was hard to leave that “home” for Japan.

“If home is where the heart is
Then my home is where you are” – Relient K

Has the Lord put my heart here? What does he desire me to do while I’m here in this tiny town? In what ways will he use me?





English Class

19 11 2009

Wow. So today’s English class was amazing.

The students had looked at the article “A village of 100 people.” They had talked about what it meant in their previous class. I was amazed.

Today in class, the students sang the song “Where Have All the Flowers Gone?” Definitely a song from the 60’s or 70’s, it fits with the types of songs my parents listen to from that era. After the song, they were given some photojournalism magazines. These photos showed real people in real hurt.

What a powerful message. What is the Lord trying to speak to me?

Jesus called us to be the light into the dark places, to let his love shine into the places where people are hurting, in pain and can see their need for him. How am I doing that? He called us to the world. Am I living that out or am I hiding in a safe bubble of light not sharing it with those around me? It’s so easy to make excuses. Maybe I can’t physically go right now, but can I support those that are? In what ways can I be the light into the dark places where I am? I can’t go to all the dark places nor can I fix every problem. But what can I do? I feel more and more the Lord is calling me to action. How does that look? I’m not sure.

A part of me wants to live the safe life (American Dream) with the 2.5 kids and a dog (or cat). But is that really something worth working toward? Is it just an illusion? Is that life really so easy or safe or perfect? What happens when something happens to one of the kids, the dog dies, or the perfect spouse loses their job? Is that really something we can hang onto? Is it really the life the Lord has called me to live?

Where does that life make room for the Lord to move? For me to be moved by him? If that’s what my life is supposed to be about, why does the “American Dream” not fit so well with it?

I feel like the Lord has been bringing messages like this into my life a lot lately. How do I help? How do I make a difference? What can I do to bring light into those dark places, into the places of hurt and oppression?

What is the Lord calling me to? What is the calling he has placed on my life? Does he want me to live overseas forever and be a missionary? Does he just want me to live a missional life wherever he’s placed me?

I think what I really want is to live my life passionately following the Lord. Where will he lead? Where will I go next? I don’t know. I want to follow the passions he’s put in me. I want to be where he’s moving. I don’t want to live a passive life, hoping to see him move. I want to live an life actively acting as his hands and feet.





“Someone needs to do something about that”

17 11 2009

Yesterday, I found a link back to this blog I had read a while ago. It’s called Stuff Christians Like. Kind of an odd title and I probably wouldn’t have read it before, except a friend had posted it on facebook and it a funny title, “Thinking you’re naked.” What??? I had to read it. It was an incredible article.

I found myself there again, this time through a completely different website. I remembered the previous article and decided to look at the more recent articles. I wanted to see if this was a rare good article, or one of many (it’s definitely one of many). This time, I found myself on this one: “What if?

The author, Jon, was inspired by his 6-year-old daughter to fundraise for a school in Vietnam. They were reading a book and she saw a photo of a young child somewhere else in the world living in poverty and asked, “That’s not real though. That’s pretend right?” He realized that her question went deeper. People don’t really live like that? Kids my own age? Why isn’t anyone doing something? Why aren’t we doing something? He decided to act on it.

I’m amazed. How many times does the Lord speak things into my life in equally small ways, which I can brush off and I do? Why do I not see something that needs done and do it?

Why don’t I notice the “someone needs to do something about that” moments and realize that they may be the Lord saying, “You need to do something about that”?

Why do I let fear and complacency get in the way of living my live completely for the Lord, especially in the small ways that no one else will know about?