Wednesday, 30 September 2009
One where for no single reason but for great cuminations of little reasons, having a good old, snotty-nosed, mascara-running cry would feel like the very best course of action.
Sometimes the soul just grows so tired...
But I am encouraged at how I see Him at work. Around me, and within me.
He is so good. He mercy and righteousness and love and faithfulness-- it's grace, all grace, to us who cannot deserve any of it. To me, who doesn't deserve any of it.
And I am thankful.
Sometimes I get swamped by the drudgery of the days-- always so much work to be done. When one project finishes, 1o others are there waiting to be given some attention. Sometimes I forget that running the Secondhand isn't just about running a charity shop to help support "Barn i Nod" (a charity organisation which runs children's homes for orphans across the globe), but first and foremost it's a point of contact for the world so desperately longing after the hope that is Jesus to come to those of us who hold these treasures in jars of clay. I feel like a very cracked jar. But I suppose His living water can gush out all the more freely from the cracks to whoever comes in off these streets of Gothenburg and stands before me in that shop.
Mike talks about how he sees Rescue Mission as a training ground for ministry. I understand that well. But sometimes I get so weary of training and I wonder what this sort of training is for. And I miss the comforts of home and "normal living".
But then I look up. And there He is, gazing at me with that curious look of adoration and pride. You are Mine, He says, as if when He looks at me He sees a prize.
And I realize again that if I am here in this country serving in this place for no other reason than for sheer love of Him, that it's enough. His love has reached into my broken places and redeemed my sick soul. And it continues to heal wounds in me every day. My love for Him is such a meager reflection back of that saving love. My love for Him couldn't endure the cross as His love for me did...
But it can serve. It can greet each new day with a "How can I best serve You today, Abba?" It can smile into the face of the grumpy customers and draw them into conversation-- even if at first it is only "Var du kommer fran?" I believe in building relationships that reflect His love as much as speaking of it literally. It can sort endless bags of secondhand clothes, wash sinkloads of dishes, dust shelf after shelf of wine glasses, and tidy messy counters umpteen times a day, always building relationships to the people sent to us by the social system for a foot back up to society, with the people from Rescue Mission Church who come in to help and work alongside, and the customers who are lonely for a chat. It can "look at them and love them" with the tender love of a compassionate Jesus aching to point the way to The Father. And where I am tired, He is mighty. Where my enthusiasm wans, His passion stays strong. Where I am uncertain, He stands firm. Where I run out of resources, He offers all of His. I am so thankful for His Spirit...
"I'm after Your heart, I'm after Your heart, I'm after You..." -- lyrics from Misty Edwards' 'Favorite One'
I've noticed Wednesdays are a tiring day for me. A long day-- starting at Rescue Mission in the morning and going straight into Bible Study in the evening with no time to myself in between. I find myself fading by the time we sit down for Bible Study, and think it a rather interesting tactic of the enemy. Tonight as I sat there attempting to pull myself together for another 2 hours that I might be there to minister to the people around me and the needs of their spirits and to be attentive to the struggles of their day, I felt Him explaining to me my tired heart in a little picture in my head of a child and a papa walking side by side pulling a wagon. Both held onto the handle but the father's strong arm bore the weight of the load, the child's small hand fitting neatly within his and no real strain on the child's arm. Leah, let Me do the pulling. Just place your hand in mine and walk the path with Me...
His yoke is easy and His burden is light. No matter the circumstances whirling about unspoken. No matter the storms threatening to toss. He is sovereign. He is big enough. He cares more than my little heart could muster. And I'm only asked to act justly, to love tenderly, and to walk humbly along with Him, my hand engulfed in His.
As always, it's a journey of learning to trust-- to crawl so deeply into His wrecklessly loving heart that the soundtrack of my life is His strong, passionate, purposeful heartbeat.
How could I live for anything less than His Kingdom? How could I strive for anything other than bringing Him glory?
I find I am lovesick.
And, almost unbelievably, that He is lovesick for me.
And so, it's worth it all.
Tuesday, 29 September 2009
I am returning to England in November for her dedication and my first cuddle, and I can't wait!
Sunday, 27 September 2009
In other news:
*2 packages of glorious Christian books and classic novels arrived this week from a lovely supporter in Minnesota!! Thank you!! Immense blessings...
*We did some more work and brain-storming on our upcoming Women's Ministry, "In His Light". We're printing and hanging flyers across the city now! October 31st is coming up quickly...
*I've been working on revamping the Sunday School system at our Rescue Mission Church-- laying our curriculum up til January. We hope to mobilize people in our church to take turns in leading the class, knowing that we are ALL called to play a part in ministering in our churches and that kids may be the least intimidating of people to serve. It's a good place to make a start! You might pray that teachers rise up from the congregation and He motivates their hearts with His love.
*I've FINALLY set my trip to England!!!! I have been praying and hoping to return for a visit since this past Spring. RyanAir had an fare sale in the wee hours of Friday night! So, November 10th through the 26th I'm off to reconnect with all my friends (family!) there, travelling across the country to see as many as I possibly can.
*My new baby goddaughter is being born!! She is why I finally get to go back to England in November as we hope to have her dedication service while I'm there. I cannot wait to meet her!!!
*I FINALLY have internet at my flat! So far, it's been a bit tricky and on-again, off-again, but it's better than nothing!
*For those of you praying for Jonas-- he's been transferred to a sort of rehabilitation centre and is supposed to be back in his own flat this coming week! Praise the Lord for skilled doctors and efficient healing!
*For those of you praying for Claus and his wife-- I haven't heard anything new or seen him at Rescue Mission this week. Keep praying!
So, that's a quick update on a few details of life this week.
Hopefully I will find the time to write far more interestingly soon :)
Sunday, 20 September 2009
Wednesday, 16 September 2009
Then around lunchtime Mike and Brona were suddenly off on an errand, and when they returned they explained how they'd delivered a hot meal to Claus and his wife. Brona, in the boldness of the Spirit (because her own boldness fails her) asked them if they might pray with them then and to her absolute surprise, they said YES! She held the frail old lady's hand and Mike prayed in Swedish so they'd better understand. Afterward, Claus said, "You're lucky you believe." And God is moving there... Please pray for Claus and his wife to find they choose themselves to be "lucky to believe"!!
Being apart from God would be to me like being without my spouse after 61 years of life together. I so pray they find Him revealing Himself to them with His comfort in their desperate sadness, fright, and grief...
Knowing Him and that my eternity is in heaven with Him and no sorrow or heaviness or catastrophe here on earth can change that, I do feel pretty lucky...
So on Sunday when I lead the service at our church (Oh Lord, protect me from nerves!), I'm going to talk about that unshakable hope we have here on earth as citizens of Heaven. Please will you pray for the hearts in my church to be lifted to desire Him above all else, at the risk of all else? I am so desperate for us to desire Him with a desperation that we are aware nothing else will satisfy.
Come quickly, Lord...
Monday, 14 September 2009
Sunday was my first day back in the little church I'm working with and it was so lovely to see everyone and slide right back in to my place, but my heart is a bit of a jumble that God is tenderly untangling. Afterwards, T-A and the kids and I visited our friend Jonas, who I LOVE to lead worship with at church, at the hospital where he's in waiting for a surgery. He has something like MS and fell recently and fractured his knee cap :(
"Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus."
-- Philippians 4:6-7
Thursday, 10 September 2009
Arriving in Sweden I was struck by how fresh the air was to breathe in :) And it felt like a bit of well-needed reassurance from our God-- I find it so emotionally difficult to leave home each time. Then I was met at the airport by lovely friends, and the two little children whose house I lived in previously ran to jump into my arms :-) This is good, as after leaving my darling baby nieces at the airport, they were feeling very conspicuously empty.
On the flight over from Chicago to Copenhagen I was sat next to a lovely middle-aged Norwegian lady and had some very pleasant chats, which broke up a bit of the loneliness of travel. We even got on the subject of Jesus as she is a Humanist who doesn't do church but a Social Worker so we found we had much in common, but I was able to share with her that I do the "social work" that I do because of the love of Christ. I think God set her beside me just to be a loving, friendly presence as I felt so very sad and lonely after all my goodbyes, and once again facing an uncertain future alone. ("Ha! That's what you think, Leah!" He says :))
Now my eyelids are so heavy I can barely hold them open to see the screen. I will be doing alot to get settled in the next few days-- moving into my flat with my roommate & registering for my Swedish SSN are on the agenda for tomorrow.
But before I can sleep I just have to give a major shout-out to my sister and brother-in-law. They are such a blessing to me. Every time I'm home they take me into their home as often as I can visit, lend me their cars, feed me many a meal. They are often the ones driving to the airport to pick me up or drop me off, even though it throws their girls into distress for ages after I leave. You guys are so special to me and I am so thankful for your willingness in my life. Thank you for seeing me off at the airport yesterday. Unwrapping those little niecey arms from around my neck is always the hardest... I miss you all. Love you!! And praying for you... ("He who refreshes others will himself be refreshed" -- Proverbs 11:25)
Resting in Him,
Monday, 7 September 2009
Auntie's precious treasures: Emily (2), Tucker (4 months), & Abby(4)
I'm headed down to the Cities today-- seeing some family and going to a dr's appt-- then flying out from MSP on Wednesday evening. I have a few stopovers this time, unfortunately. One in Chicago and one in Copenhagen, and then will arrive in Gothenburg again about 8am Thursday morning MN time/ 3pm Swedish time.
I am so thankful that I got to come home for these weddings just before moving to work with Rescue Mission for the next year. It was such a beautiful time of catching up with people --and I'm thankful for each of you that I've been able to see! And sad for each one I wasn't able to meet up with this time :( I'm especially so thankful for everyone on my support team that I was able to meet up with. You have no idea how He uses you to encourage me on this journey. No idea!! I COULD NOT follow Him in this if not for you.
So, I will be in touch again from Sweden as soon as I can! Know that I am holding you in my thoughts and talking to the Father about you :)