Wednesday, 26 August 2009

A Stretch of Road and A Limitless God

I always find driving to be one of my best times to connect with God. A long stretch of road under a dark night sky, driving barefoot (love the feeling of freedom in being barefoot), the radio playing (loudly, if I have it my way!), and every thought, feeling, despair, and hope coming out to my Father who carries them all when I let them slide off my shoulders to His.

I've been carrying far too much for me lately-- far more than He intends me to carry myself. I wonder when I'll ever learn to live in His power and stop trying it on my own? The weeks at home have gone by so very quickly and as my return to Sweden date looms near-- this time with a residency permit and only a one-way ticket-- I find myself so often overwhelmed with too many emotions to calculate. Of course there's excitement and enthusiasm and anticipation. I miss my friends who are like family there, I miss my lovely city of Gothenburg, I miss the connection I feel with Europe, and the passion He infuses my heart with there which I haven't felt anywhere else in all the world...

But I dread leaving my family again-- my little brother who resents the time I spend with anyone else but him during my stays at home since moving to Europe in 2005; my precious nieces who dote on me as much as I dote on them and grow and change with every blink of my eyes; and now my new baby nephew who has stolen my heart and become another treasure to miss whenever I go... I dread leaving the familiarity of home. The beauty of my family ranch wraps me up like the sweetest of embraces. I dread missing out on the important moments-- my sister is due to have her baby boy in January, my youngest brother is graduating from High School this May, Thanksgiving, Christmas, Easter, and all the get-togethers in between. But mostly just the ordinary everyday moments. The freedom to call my sister any time of the day and just hang-out over the phone. The freedom to just hop on my bike and take the 5 mile route through the countryside to enjoy the evening light, or pop over to my big brother's house and chat with my sister-in-law and love on my Tucker. Sitting on the patio talking with my Mom, or laughing over one antic or another of Jonah. Staying over with my Grandparents like a kid again. Any time stolen with cousins and Aunts and Uncles. All the little pleasures of home.

Leaving never gets easier.

But particularly this time. I always expect ministry to be a challenge-- my education at Redcliffe didn't allow for rose-coloured glasses about the world of Missions & Ministry. I heard too many firsthand experiences to expect nothing but rainbows and roses-- but the situation our loving King has led me into at Rescue Mission this time sometimes feels bigger than I can handle these days. First it was just working out my own theology on all the situations which somehow swirl together in a small community like ours, now it's the communication of it that I'm struggling with because who am I to speak into ANYTHING, and especially if the parties involved don't want to hear it? Coming home just now was such a reprieve. A reprieve which is nearly over now...

I cried out to God about it all as I drove under the starlit sky. Lord, what is my place in it? What would You have me do to help? How would You have me go about it? And then just alot of tears from a heart heavy for this little church I so love and the mess satan does his best to work into all of our lives. It's no surprise that we've come under such fire and lost such unity as a church. we are sinners and all at different points in our walks with God and different understandings of His Word-- not to mention in Rescue Mission's situation, we're all from different cultural perspectives!-- but what's difficult for me is how things are or are not handled. Is there a right way and a wrong way to go about it, God? And am I now included in the ones who are meant to handle things? Am I worked up over nothing? Or have you given me this heart, this education, and this passion for this particular ministry and then made me a part of it all for just such a time as this?

My heart's just been so burdened.
And again and again He inspires me just to desire Him above all else, and let Him use that to inspire the ones I'm ministering to in Sweden right now. It's all on Him, not on me.

And as I cried and talked to Him and went over everything in my mind for the billionth time, two songs played on the radio which spoke to me straight from His heart to mine and refreshed me on this journey...

If You Want Me To
(Check it out on youtube:
Stunning lyrics:
The pathway is broken
And The signs are unclear
And I don't know the reason why You brought me here
But just because You love me the way that You do
I'm gonna walk through the valley If You want me to

Cause I'm not who I was
When I took my first step
And I'm clinging to the promise
You're not through with me yet
So if all of these trials
Bring me closer to you
Then I will walk through the fire
If You want me to

It may not be the way
I would have chosen
When you lead me through a world that's not my home
But You never said it would be easy
You only said I'd never go alone

So When the whole world turns against me
And I'm all by myself
And I can't hear You answer my cries for help
I'll remember the suffering
Your love put You through
And I will go through the valley
If You want me to

And with my heart absolutely in the right place after that, He reminded me of Who He is. In this difficult ministry situation on my first assignment as a missionary and beyond, He is mighty to save. Whatever grieves my heart for His kingdom, grieves His all the more. Whatever concerns I have, He has had all along, and He has His plans. He started fixing this thousands of years ago when He sent His Son to abolish the power of sin, and His redemption is at work even today. His final victory is near. He IS mighty to save. This is His situation, not mine. This life of ministry, wherever it takes me, is His, not mine. And I will watch Him work in His might and His love now and always...

Mighty To Save
(Check it out on YouTube:

Everyone needs compassion
Love that's never failing
Let mercy fall on me
Everyone needs forgiveness
The kindness of a Saviour
The Hope of nations

He can move the mountains
My God is Mighty to save
He is Mighty to save
Author of salvation
He rose and conquered the grave
Jesus conquered the grave

So take me as You find me
All my fears and failures
Fill my life again
I give my life to follow
Everything I believe in
Now I surrender

My Saviour
You can move the mountains
You are mighty to save
You are mighty to save
Author of Salvation
You rose and conquered the grave
Yes, You conquered the grave

Thank you for long night drives, good good mighty God.

(p.s. Can anyone tell me how to embed YouTube videos right into the post?)

Monday, 24 August 2009

Hands Built for Mercy

I would like to take a moment to introduce you to my friend Gabs.

Gabi is a friend from England with a big heart and an even bigger God. From a young age He's been nurturing within her a heart for serving Him in Africa and just recently He's been opening the doors for her to do so. She's only just back to the UK following her first trip to Uganda to work with the Hope Children's Home where she has absolutely fallen head over heels in love... with the children! She calls them her chocolate treasures :)

He is now opening the doors for her to return to Uganda for a longer term of service, from 3 to 6 months, and she is so ready to go! The only issue, as is always the issue for Christian mission work, is finances. She has alot to raise and is doing everything within her power to do it. She trusts that God provides for everything He asks of us.

I'm wondering if perhaps He might provide a bit of it through you?

Drawn to different parts of the world and so equipped for different types of His work, Gabi and my hearts meet at the point of passion to see God's indescribable love known throughout the world. If yours shares the burden, I'd love to see you join us and people like us whom He's called to full-time cross-cultural Christian work in whatever way you can! You'll never regret building into His kingdom.



Thursday, 20 August 2009

I Love Being Auntie

I am Auntie to the 3 most beautiful & lovely children the world has ever seen-- and I love it! I can't express how God has used these 3 little ones in my life over the years to speak to me of Him, and His unfailing love; of faith like a child, of His perfect will, and of His Father heart.

(My newest little one to love-- 3 month old Tucker James! Whom I just met upon coming home at the end of July and have already fallen hopelessly in love with...)

(My beauties, Abby & Emily, who have held my heart for 4 & 2 years now, respectively)

(And the first photo of Nephew #2 due to Hannah and Joel & Abby and Emmy in January!)

They make even thinking of leaving for Europe again such a difficult, difficult thing to do...

But they also give me something real and infinitely valuable to hand over to my God, like He handed His Son over for me...

"Whatever I do with the time I have left, I only want to do what I cannot do unless He does it."
-- Ben Patterson

Calling all... Garbage?

Many of you will remember a letter I wrote for family & friends before I left for Sweden in April all about ways that you could get involved in ministry in Europe without ever leaving your home. I sent out a special letter about ways to contribute without being a financial or a prayer supporter.

A few of those suggestions were:

* Clip the stamps off your envelopes you receive in the mail and save them for me. Both of my grandmas had big bags of stamps for me when I got back to the states in July :) Thank you, Grandmas!

* Collect old cell phones and used Ink Jet printer cartridges for me. My sister-in-law just brought me a bag full of old ink jet cartridges from her office! Thank you, Paula!! So, I'm hoping to send these in to the fundraiser company before I go back to Sweden next month. If anyone has some old cell phones or used ink jet printer cartridges to contribute, please pass them along to me (apparently they are only acceptable if they fit in the palm of your hand, because anything bigger isn't Ink Jet)! My stash so far is very small, but every little bit counts :)
Thanks, lovelies!
p.s. The new laptop has arrived! It's pretty :) It's at the shop now to have the files from my broken laptop moved on to it. Thank you for your prayers and support!! Once again, Jahovah Jirah provides :)

Tuesday, 18 August 2009

Congratulations Mr. & Mrs. Bekius

My cousin's wedding this weekend was perfectly beautiful and it was SUCH an honour to be part of it.

Congratulations, Mr. & Mrs. Bekius!!
May you seek our God with your marriage and know His love and joy!

Thursday, 13 August 2009

Another Wedding Weekend!

It's nearly the weekend of my second bridesmaid gig (:)) this summer and I've come down to stay with the bride (my cousin Jackee) a few days early. Today we packed up and moved out the last of her stuff from her childhood room and last night we stayed up late talking & talking, aware of a huge life shift on the horizon. Tomorrow the bridesmaids all get together to have our nails done and then it's off to the church for another bridesmaid and I to practice the song we're singing during the lighting of the unity candle before we have rehearsal and groom's dinner and all that jazz. Then Saturday is the big day! I feel really blessed to be able to be a part of it all...

Thanking God for family and friends to share life with!


$150 (for babysitting for my darling nephew whenever possible :))
+$50 (from a lovely, concerned sister in Christ who was herself a missionary in Europe!)

That's nearly half-way to the full cost of $455!

Thank You, Lord!

Tuesday, 11 August 2009

Quick Note to the Interested...

I've FINALLY booked my return ticket to Sweden. I fly the evening of the 9th of September which is a bit later than I had at first thought, but it was cheapest. Plus, as usual, I'm dreading the leaving AGAIN, so I guess it gives me a few more days with my family this side of the ocean :)

I'm so glad our God knows what He's doing, because I'm never sure enough!
"My times are in Your hands..."
--Psalm 31:15

Provision :)

Our God is good. Vast & beautiful, yet so near & concerned with every little detail of our lives.

It seems too good to be true to belong to One such as He-- that He wants me...

Tonight I was handed a check for $150 for looking after my adorable nephew these months at home. This is something I do without a thought for any sort of reimbursement because I LOVE him and want to spend as much time with him as possible. He's a small baby and babies reflect to me my God's heart like nothing else does... Plus, he's my nephew, so we have a built-in bond that I can't explain.

I instantly turned to my brother and sister-in-law and was like, "Are you sure about this?" And they were, so I exclaimed, "You guys! I have been praying about how God will provide for my broken computer and this has come out of no where!" I know they didn't realize when they decided to write the check that it was God who planted the thought :)

And I am doubly blessed because not only do I get to cuddle one of the most gorgeous babies in the world, but I get unexpectedly paid for it!

So... $150 of the new laptop is officially covered :)

And it shouldn't be surprising to me when God provides in unexpected ways. He's just like that. But it is-- and I think that's part of His beauty :)

Sunday, 9 August 2009

Thinking about Practical Faith...

It finally crashed.

My laptop has become a rather vital possession in this crazy international life. A pivotal communication tool with family & friends regardless of what side of the ocean I'm on and my ears on the world in a country where I can't yet understand the language, it's also where I do all my writing, and store all my writing, and hold all my files of any description (photos, music, addresses, recipes, my writing projects, my correspondence with editors, mission agencies, and all of you!) since living across two continents doesn't make for storing hard copies of anything.

And it's finally crashed. You'll remember I was having technical difficulties for a while but stubbornly holding on as long as it would last because financially I haven't any leeway to replace a laptop...

To give you a very un-technical description, the jack where I can connect it to the charger has stopped taking charge-- something's come lose from the mother-board. Apparently this is a common problem for Dells, I'm now told. I can have it torn apart, re-sautered, and rebuilt for about $130 but I bought the bottom-of-the-line, cheapest Dell model I could back in 2005 and it would hardly be worth the cost for another year or maybe two of use, the computer guy said.

So... I've ordered a new laptop in faith. Another bottom-of-the-line, cheap-as-I-could-find, though this time a Hewlett-packard Compaq Presario for $405. And I can have my hard-drive extracted and my files transferred to this new one for around $50...

But on a missionary "salary", even this is... a leap of faith for me. More than a month's salary.

I keep mulling over the verses about how Christ desires for us to have faith like a child, even though everything with in me shouts out from a very human perspective of "how can I expect God to help me on such a miniscule thing as a material possession?" But I have to believe that if God is who He says He is (and He is), then He does what He says He does, and He says to cast ALL my cares on Him. He says to trust Him with ALL my heart. He says to present before Him my EVERY need.

I have this tendacy of using "selective trust" like selective hearing. "I'll trust you with the issue of a life-mate, God, or with which ministry I'll work with or what country I'll do it in, but not with how I'll pay this bill, meet this deadline, be in this wedding, go to that birthday party, or write this article. Those are MY worries."

Perhaps in some ways I worry MORE when I'm back home like this, because I see again how "normal" peope live-- my own "normal people", my family-- and am reminded of all that I came from and how differently I live now, just praying for God to supply the funds to meet rent, let alone provide "extras" like insurance, dental, retirement fund??, or even short term things like that trip back to England I've been promising for months, the contact lenses I've been wishing to have for years (please, Lord, may I not lose or break my glasses!), or even the right kind of underwear for the dresses I'm wearing in these weddings this summer (Yes, I had my prayer team praying for God to provide the right bra! Haha :)) I worry because I truly do not know where simple things like this will come from. Like, the other day I asked my mom if I could just go in and use some of her body spray because I had run out of mine and knew I didn't really have the money for a "luxury" like that. So then when my laptop breaks down.... It's a rather more grand thing than is a bra or some body spray...

But you know what? The DAY after I borrowed my mom's body spray, I was given a whole bottle from Bath and Body Works as a gift for being a bridesmaid. It smells LOVELY and it's something I would never buy for myself right now because it is a luxury compared to paying rent and buying plane tickets.

And that is just our God for you. I hadn't even prayed about that, but He knew and He saw and He did it, as if to say, "Leah, I was not joking when I promised you that if you trust and obey me, no matter what I'm asking of you, I will carry you through it and beyond." He knows my needs. Whether it's underwear (which, of course, He also provided :)), body spray, or... now... a laptop computer.

And I'm convicted. I had this lofty idea when I first started with Rescue Mission this time and began this journey of "living by faith" financially as well that I would sit down weekly and make out a little list of "needs" for that week to bring before Him. I mean, not that He doesn't already know our needs before we ask (Matt. 6:8 is very plain about that!), but I think He wants to hear it from us. Why else would He tell us to pray if He already knows it all unless He wanted to teach us to come to Him, to put our hearts in the right posture before Him, and to spend time with Him?

It's strange how it seems somehow harder to put into His hands the worries about material needs than it is to go to Him for immaterial needs-- like loneliness, sadness, fear, and discouragement, isn't it?

I want to commit my WHOLE WHOLE life to Him again with renewed vigor. Today, it's this laptop of faith... Tomorrow, who knows. I long for bigger unshakable faith, deeper daily trust, and unflagging hope. He is GOD after all, and I am His. What sort of silly girl would fear He would turn a cold shoulder on her over something so small to Him as a laptop if He didn't put Himself above providing a bottle of body spray?

Or His Son, for that matter?

I think the problem with this "living by faith" thing is that it's been so abused. People have taken such truths of Who God is and what He wants for His children and twisted them into prosperity gospels that glint such tantalizing half-truths of what we're entitled to as Children of God. But to me, that seems as if one is seeking Him for what He can give, not just seeking Him because He is the be-all and end-all, because He Himself is the fulfilment of our every desire. That is not what faith is meant to be about. Faith is about believing in the power of Christ's blood in what He has done for us at the cross, because of Who He is, and the transforming work of the Holy Spirit in conforming us into children like our Father once we've believed. And He takes us each down very different roads in that conforming process.

This is just mine.

Lord, may I learn the lessons well-- all the while caught up in gazing at Your beautiful face....

Tuesday, 4 August 2009

Wedding Bells

We had a wedding in our family on Saturday!

My soldier brother Caleb came back from Korea to marry his bride.

It was picture-perfect and all my siblings and I were part of the wedding party.

Check out all the breath-taking photos:
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