Friday, 24 December 2010

Merry Christmas Eve



Oh. My.

It has been WEEKS since I've even looked at this blog. Mostly because the lead-up to leaving Sweden was a crazy time. Now I am nestled down so very happily at my friends' beautiful home in The Cotswolds-- my favourite region of England-- and every day I am resting in His grace like I haven't done in ages. The grace of this incredible God whom we are celebrating coming to us as a baby and living to die so He could rescue us from our fates and adopt us as His own...

I can't contain all of this thankfulness!

"The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth." -- John 1:14

Saturday, 4 December 2010

The Song Holding me Tonight


"And He lets me know my barrenness so I will learn to lean...
Beautiful mercy-- do what you have to do.
You know the best way-- do what you have to do.
Jealous lover-- do what you have to do.
...You're so kind.
Beautiful Mercy."
(-- lyrics from Beautiful Mercy by Laura Hackett)

Tuesday, 23 November 2010

Outlive Your Life by Max Lucado

I have been reading Max Lucado since I was a little girl, so the decision to review one of his newest books was a no-brainer. And just like his children's book, "Just In Case You Ever Wonder" used to hold my attention as a 7-year-old, "Outlive Your Life" held my attention now. A quick and breezy read-- even while being stacked out with convicting and powerful truths-- Max delighted me with how he breathed new life into familiar bible stories and bible characters, expounding on their principles to apply to our modern-day lives as followers of Christ. 

I was especially moved by a chapter he wrote on prayer-- as one of the most powerful ways we are called to outlive our lives. I happened to read it on an evening in which I was fasting and praying over the ministry situation I'm very quickly entering into (www.rachamministries.org) and the Lord convicted me afresh of a truth He's made clear to me again and again and again-- ALL of the work done for His Kingdom, in His way, begins in prayer. Jesus was the master example, of course. As Lucado points out:
And Jesus. Our prayerful Jesus.
Awakening early to pray (Mark 1:35)
Dismissing people to pray (Matt 14:23)
Ascending a mountain to pray (Luke 9:28)

Crafting a model prayer to teach us to pray (Matt 6:9-13)
Cleansing the temple so others could pray (Matt 21:12-13)
Stepping into a garden to pray (Luke 22:39-46)
Jesus immersed His words and work in prayer. Powerful things happen when we do the same.
(pg 160)
He goes on to tell stories of amazing things God accomplished through ordinary people like you and me who made an earnest effort to take the set aside time to call on an extraordinary God about the things going on around us.

The final chapter in the book was the best-- Lucado's grand finale. It was expounding on Jesus' parable of the sheep and the goats, how He would recount for us all the loving things we did in our lives to improve the lot of another, and tell us that it was Him we were touching then. And so all the times we didn't do what we could to reach out to the people around us, we didn't reach out to Him... This challenge envelopes my entire life. We are called, most importantly, to love. But for a very specific reason-- because of love of Him. The two go hand-in-hand. Jesus says we cannot love Him without loving 'the least of these' (which, less face it, we all are at one time or another, in one way or another), and when we love others, we're loving Him.

So, I finished this book one evening fasting and praying for the next ministry stint He has me in, helping to start up a children's home in Uganda with Racham Ministries (arriving January 5th). It's all completely beyond me and I still don't know how He's going to get it all together, but I know I can trust Him. And I know that whatever way He shows me to serve any of His little ones (and that's all of us, not just the children) is an opportunity to pour out my love on Him through pouring it out on them. So, may the little bit of Himself in me outlive the me in me as He teaches me to love on, love on, love on.

And may you outlive your life through Him too.
There's just no other thing that matters when all is said and done...


*I received this book free from Thomas Nelson Publishers as part of their BookSneeze.com book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255

Saturday, 20 November 2010

Ah-maz-ing Blog Post...

I would love for everyone to read
this fantastic blog post
called Adjective: Recklessly Wasteful

Mmmmm. So beautifully challenging!

Tuesday, 9 November 2010

Chance Encounters

Have I mentioned how deeply I love my little international church group here called The Well? Building relationships there, sharing with one another, the teaching from various people and the Word, the worship, He just uses all of it, every week, to refresh my heart somehow. And heal bits of it which have been battered and bruised in other church situations.

Last Sunday a lovely middle-aged Iranian lady pastor came to share her testimony with us. And I listened awestruck. She grew up in a Muslim home in Iran, and started having visions of Jesus before she was even 5 years old. He came to her when she was deathly ill and His presence calmed her. Then He came to her in dreams all throughout her childhood. She spent her life seeking to discover who this man was in her dreams, and the amount of times "Christians" turned her away and sent her home empty is shocking. But He continued to woo her, and she continued to seek after Him, actually aching with a curiosity that wouldn't go away, until she FINALLY, in her 30's, met someone who could tell her who this man was. And she gave her life to Him on the spot, soon became the leader of an underground house church, and then was evacuated from Iran to Sweden in the revolution when her fellow Christians leaders were being martyred.

Afterwards, various people spoke up and shared the different ways God had revealed Himself to them. The experiences were as varied as the people in The Well-- from every continent, so many countries, ages, life experiences.

The kind Iranian lady pastor and I took the same bus home in the crystal clear Swedish night. I thanked her for sharing, told her how encouraged I was. She wrapped her arms around me with a warm smile, then brushed her fingers across my face like a mother and told me in somewhat broken English how happy she was to meet me. And I was struck by the feeling of being mothered, at a bus stop in the cold of a dark Scandinavian city, by a woman whose years have seen a life so very different from the one my fewer ones have seen. I thought about all the people those hands have reached out and touched across the world, in a life so foreign from my own. And marveled at His ways, which miraculously drew this woman from the time she was a little girl in a part of the world hostile to Him, and how He's drawn me, born into a family where His Name is praised, and which set us before one another on this cold winter's night, so many stories of His faithfulness to us living behind each of our pairs of eyes. United by Him, two strangers who could hardly have had more different lives.

When I got home that night I spoke to my sister on Skype and missed my family. When I recalled her tender touch, reaching out to brush her fingers across my face like a loving mother, I was just reminded of His excellent plan to adopt ALL of us as His children, to give us ALL a role in His kingdom, a part in His body. I cannot possibly express how much it comforts me to be a part of this worldwide family, united with burning hearts so full of His love and His purposes and so alive in this cosmic battle.

And I think remembering all of that is exactly what's got her through all the devastating things her life has passed through, and keeps her going, serving Him, lit up with the love of Christ and aching to pour Him out into the emptiness all around her. She works in outreach to Muslims here. She gave me her card and asked if I would come along and help her some time.

...And all this reassurance just from a kind-hearted reaching out and brushing one's motherly fingers across one's chilly face.

Thursday, 28 October 2010

Dearly-loved Children


I've been writing devotionals on 1 John 2 for the international student ministry I'm involved in here called The Well. I love how all throughout this chapter, John refers to his readers as dear children. The Greek used is “τεκνίον” which can even be translated as, “darlings” (Strong’s Greek Dictionary). Paul used the same Greek word when he wrote in Ephesians 5:1, “Be imitators of God, as dear children.” 

It struck me anew the miracle of grace to think that when God looks at me-- knowing me completely, knowing all I have done or haven’t done and am yet to do in this life, all my secret thoughts, all my deepest selfishness, and how very far I fall from the mark-- He still sees his very own dearly-loved child...

My amazing friend Abbie once drew this for me
during a time of prayer for me. It's me and Him...
The Greek for “dear” in Eph. 5:1 means, “beloved, esteemed, worthy of love, favourite.” Did you know that when He looks at you, He sees His favourite little darling child? Strong’s Greek Dictionary explains that Paul’s use of “children” in Eph 5:1 is “an affection address for those led by the Spirit of God, therefore closely related to God.” When you really stop to think about what it means to be His child, doesn’t it just blow you away?

Suddenly things which I've been stewing over, details of this crazy lifestyle, the travels, the costs, the matters of safety, being on my own, the wondering how it's all going to work, the trying to be strong enough, smart enough, whatever enough-- suddenly they fade into the background when I let myself stop and realize what it means to be His. And it's not just that He's my Father by chance; He's my Father by adoption (Eph 1:4-5). He wants me. I find that stunning...

And, dear children, "darlings", He wants you too.

 I am writing to you who are God’s children
      because your sins have been forgiven through Jesus.
I am writing to you who are mature in the faith
      because you know Christ, who existed from the beginning.
 I am writing to you who are young in the faith
      because you have won your battle with the evil one.
 I have written to you who are God’s children
      because you know the Father.
 I have written to you who are mature in the faith
      because you know Christ, who existed from the beginning.
 I have written to you who are young in the faith

      because you are strong.
 God’s word lives in your hearts,
      and you have won your battle with the evil one.

-- 1 John 2: 12-14

Saturday, 16 October 2010

News! News! News!

Hello praying friends!

I've been meaning to update you on the trip to England to meet with Pioneers for ages now. Oh, busyness!

I really want to thank those of you who were praying for holding me up before the Father regarding this meeting and the whole trip! There were a few near-misses with train/bus travel due to a strike on  the Underground in London and a late arrival to a train station (thankfully, wouldn't you know it, the train was delayed JUST long enough for me to run across the station to the platform and hop on it!). I was surprised at how small my anxiousness was regarding all the train travel (which I'm not a pro at) and I knew then that it was only His grace answering your prayers to give me peace.

My meeting with Pioneers went so smoothly! I was quite nervous leading up to it, mostly about how my own nerves might get in the way, what a fool I might make of myself :) But as I spent the afternoon up in Bawtry with the directors of Pioneers-UK, I truly felt so at peace, and was able to talk naturally and communicate what He's placed on my heart and ask questions about what they're envisioning of our partnership in mission, etc etc. All in all, it was just as I asked you to pray-- a clarifying day.

The Pioneers-UK headquarters are located in a beautiful old
estate called Bawtry Hall, near Doncaster, England.
I need to go back to meet with them for a formal interview and to meet with the team they'd like to see me join in Birmingham doing international (Yep! Perfect :)) student ministry, alongside doing mission mobilisation for that region for the head office in Bawtry. We will plan for this meeting to take place straightaway after I return from Uganda in April. The ideal would be to then apply for the visa and move to Birmingham in late summer/early autumn 2011!

But this will require a great deal of prayer!! I will need to see Him increase my support team 2/3rds of what it is already at. This is what deters me the most, this feeling of, "But God, the finances are impossible!" He is challenging me daily to trust that NOTHING is impossible with Him. Please pray with me as He works to  raise up new members of my support team to work with me to see this ministry fulfilled! The directors of Pioneers broke it down to needing 30 people to partner with me by sponsoring my ministry $1 a day-- $30 a month (or 20 Pounds). If some can give more and some can give less, it will then even out. And somehow, that makes it seem less daunting! Would any of you reading be interested in partnering with me to share the love of God in the UK this way? Or know anyone who might be interested? PLEASE do not hesitate to get in touch...

And we will need Him to supply the visa in a country where visas are harder and harder to come by as the gov't puts more and more restrictions on them. Of course, this is nothing to  Him. But Leah worries. hehe. Prayers, please!

I'm so very thankful for how smoothly my journey with Pioneers has been thus far. I'm so thankful for the way the Lord is leading one little step by one little step, guiding me onward in this life of serving Him. It is one wild ride. But He can be trusted! And if in the end that's the only thing He used my life for, to get that message across, it's enough :)

So... onward we go, learning to live in love and trust of Him!

Tuesday, 28 September 2010

Walk in the World in Merciful Ways...



"Go into the world showing how much He loves you.
Walk in the world in merciful ways; He loves you."

--Jars of Clay, 'Benediction'

Thursday, 23 September 2010

Every day Grace to Keep us Walking on

“Is this what brokenness really is? A state of wonder? When we are broken, we take nothing for granted and we are astonished by breath and being and the most simple extraordinary grace. When we are broken, being at all is the wonder, everyday grace is the miracle, and we see that this is what is real: everything is a staggering gift.”Ann Voskamp
I've been thinking about everyday grace.

I've been pondering this journey of serving Him. I've been pondering this 'living by faith' lifestyle. I've been pondering the way the work has taught me new aches I've never been touched by before, and I've been pondering how overwhelming it feels, and how to hand it all over to Him, to slip out of the way it coats me like a used garment at the end of the day. I find it doesn't slip off so easily, and soon there are so many layers of old dresses piled over my skin, one after the other, that I can hardly move, and I become encumbered by the thing which was once for my good, and for the good of those around me.

And I've been pondering His grace and care which always always always has held me back from being swallowed up. I've been pondering the gentle way He leads me, the gentle way He corrects me, His every movement toward me is grace. And every time I stop to see it, I am floored by His mercy to me. I read a Beth Moore quote recently that brought a knowing smile to my face: "One of the things I love best about God is His unexplainable choice of servants. Frankly, God either has a lot of grace or poor taste." I do wonder if I'll ever be the kind of confident person who doesn't question herself and her place in the world, but for now... I look at Him most every day, and definitely as He takes me into each new stage of this journey of ministry and ask, "Are You sure about this?" Unexplainable choice of servants indeed!

Last night I met with a Swedish lady I've come to kind of disciple over the years. We were very Swedish and went out for 'fika' and then tramped home after the sun, fleeting quickly these days, went down over this gorgeous city.  We went over a bible study together looking at making room in our lives to lean on His strength.Those of you who know me have read my countless lines about feeling entirely too weak and having no recourse to anything BUT Him. So, needless to say, the study struck a chord of encouragement for me. I find, again, that I am in a position where He HAS TO come through, or else. With the impossibility of Uganda on the horizon, but also in my current interim period between working with RM and working in Uganda. I am just so aware how deeply I need Him for every moment, for every necessity, for every conversation presented to me, for every ministry opp, and every choice. And I can either stress about the unknown/inconvenience/insecurity of that, or realize that that state of desperation is the perfect alert telling me that I am exactly where I should be...

"I discovered an astonishing truth: God's attracted to weakness. He can't resist those who humbly and honestly admit how desperately they need Him. Our weakness, in fact, makes room for His power" -- J. Cymbala

But His beautiful grace doesn't just leave us hanging there, holding on for dear life. It bathes our eyes with the perspective of wonderment. When we are broken, we take nothing for granted and we are astonished by breath and being and the most simple extraordinary grace. Last weekend He gave me one of those moments of sheer wonder at Him and His ways. One of these moments of wonder which I might not have if I wasn't acutely acquainted with my own brokenness and weakness and emptiness. I was bridesmaid in a wedding for my new boss who has become a fast friend. Our difference in beliefs has given rise to so many interesting conversations and challenging thoughts to work through with Him. It's stunning to me how we live side by side in two completely different realities, mine with the God of Love at the centre of my entire world, and hers a world without God at all (still trying to work out how one survives such a world...).

After days of intense preparation, while both Jo and I were battling sickness and fatigue, the party came together, and dressed to the nines, I joined this group of Chilean/European strangers and wandered around this beautiful city I so love relishing the moments. And I was so caught up in the sheer beauty of His grace in giving me, little old me, such moments. At the end of the day, after a ceremony at the stunning old city hall, and being followed around by a photographer for hours doing a photo shoot for the wedding invitation business I'm working for, I found myself sitting in an atmospheric European wine cellar surrounded by the sounds of laughter and music and His diversity of world cultures colliding all around me and within me, partaking in a beautiful, sophisticated, 4-course meal complete with champagne in the romantic candle-light. And my soul just fell silent in awe at the way it all felt like a tailor-made gift from His heart to my delighted little one. How does such an event fit into MY little life? Whenever did it become just another day on the job being called to Europe to be given such, to me, extraordinary experiences?


And I see the moments like that one which come along as some kind of healing balm covering over some of the harder sides of this 'job' of serving Him which have rubbed me raw and pummeled me black & blue.


And I love His love. I love His strength soaring through my weakness. I love His plan so much bigger than my mind can see and comprehend. And I choose to trust Him. Beyond the circumstances I can see. Because I know His heart is like a warm wine-cellar bathed in candlelight and drenched in laughter, not like the spiritual battle raging over this serving Him business, which wounds so deeply and leaves such scars.


Every day grace IS the miracle. And EVERYTHING in it is a staggering gift.

Seek out that everyday grace, friends. Seek out that grace-filled heart which hands it to you, in all your brokenness, in all your weakness. His heart throbs with love for His little ones as we walk on in this confusing, challenging, painful world waiting for its redemption and the reconciliation which is coming. Walk on in that glorious hope, in this glorious grace.

"Therefore I ... beg you to lead a life worthy of your calling, for you have been called by God. Always be humble and gentle. Be patient with each other, making allowance for each other’s faults because of your love. Make every effort to keep yourselves united in the Spirit, binding yourselves together with peace. For there is one body and one Spirit, just as you have been called to one glorious hope for the future. There is one Lord, one faith, one baptism, and one God and Father, who is over all and in all and living through all." -- Ephesians 4:1-6

Thursday, 9 September 2010

An inspiring blog to check out...

Mmmmm. Yes. 
Be it Guatemala, Uganda, Sweden, or wherever... It's His love which changes the world. Nothing less.
May we strive to be world-changers; may we live to be lovers.

Saturday, 4 September 2010

Have you ever been hungry?

Have you ever gone hungry?
I mean really hungry, not eating supper an hour later than usual kind of hungry.

Today I've been taking part in a sponsored fast to raise money for Racham Ministries (website coming soon!). Racham is the brand new ministry heading out to south-eastern Uganda in January which I'm going out with to help start up the Children's Home. Today has been all about crying out for the children of Uganda which Racham will exist for who faint with hunger in the streets (Lam 2:19). I am hungry, but I have no idea what that kind of hunger is. I am needy, but I have no idea what that kind of need is. I may feel alone, but I have no idea what that kind of loneliness is. And I've been before the Lord all day crying out for those little ones who do know, who know nothing else...

Just like when I was facing it in Romania, my heart which knows this God of love, this massive, powerful, gracious, good, compassionate God, is perplexed when faced with these issues so incompatible with Who He is. He could snap His fingers and fill the bellies of every child on earth with good food, fill the love tank of every child on earth with affection and honest care. I know life doesn't work that way. I know. But if my little heart aches this deeply for them, how must His feel?? And how does He stand it?

I went to the Word and looked up "hunger," "hungry," and "orphan" in my concordance and found, "He has filled the hungry with good things and sent the rich away with empty hands." --Luke 1:53 And it made me long to remain in a place of need and hunger rather than being rich and full and think I have it all sorted, only to find my hands are empty of what matters... Him.

And He answered my cries of, "Lord, where is Your mercy for ones such as these?" with the reminder that... Christ left His Spirit in us and gave us the command to go into all the world and bring the Kingdom of God to those trapped in the world's darkness. Mother Theresa once said, "If we have no peace, it's because we have forgotten that we belong to one another."


"Give justice to the poor and the orphan; uphold the rights of the oppressed and the destitute. Rescue the poor and helpless; deliver them from the grasp of evil people." -- Psalm 82:3-4

"Pure and genuine religion in the sight of God the Father means caring for orphans and widows in their distress and refusing to let the world corrupt you." -- James 1:27

If we belong to Christ, their hunger is our responsibility to feed, their cries are ours to hear, their tears are ours to wipe, they are ours to love. We are the hands and feet of Christ, we are the bearers of His Kingdom light.

So... where are we?

Saturday, 28 August 2010

"And He determined... the exact places where they should live." -- Acts 17:26

"I can't believe [Y]ou chose me in all my fragility..." -- Nelly Furtado, "Childhood Dreams"

My grateful heart must share with you how my faithful God is providing for this little one of His here in Scandinavia.

Yes, He showed His crazy colours to me earlier this summer (as He often does-- the nature of my lifestyle might already scream it :)) when He answered my seeking heart by opening the doors for me to spend 3 months working with a brand new ministry in Uganda called Racham Ministries, started by a British friend of mine, at the beginning of 2011. He's asked me to come alongside her as we open up a brand new children's home for the vulnerable and abandoned children of Uganda. He has prepared this silly heart of mine for years, teaching me in all my smallness and fright to trust and obey regardless of how it feels. And so I said yes, having no idea how He would work it out practically and knowing I already live leaning on Him for day-to-day practicalities.

Then in the next 2 weeks from that momentous time of prayer, He landed a paying job in my lap for the interim between finishing with Rescue Mission and going out to Africa in January. He miraculously granted me a visa extention in less than an hour (unheard of in Sweden! I have a friend who applied in June and is still waiting to hear now and it's nearly September!). And not only that, but He landed a flat of my own to live in for that time. Rent-free...
Yep, you've read that correctly :) I'm still in shock and awe and I imagine He's smiling to Himself in heaven at my reaction :)

My new employers, a graphic designer and her husband, with two small children who first hired me as their babysitter and then asked me to stay on after the summer as the assistant to their fabulous high-end wedding invitation business (www.peacockinvitations.com), have just moved to a bigger place and have their old flat standing empty til they sell it in the Spring. So, they've asked me if I'd like to stay in it. Which, conveniently, means I work across the street from where I live now :) And just when my time at the flat I've been renting from a friend all year was meant to be up. I don't think they'd mind me telling you that my new employers (& friends!) are Atheists. But they do know exactly what I'm about and want to help me help people... I joke with her about how she's such a God-send to me and isn't it ironic :) She jokes with me about how "blessed" they feel  to have me come along :) His ways are just so high above....!


I'm living in a part of the city known as "Old Town" in a building which is protected by the historic society :) (can you just imagine how much I love that?!) The family isn't finished moving out yet, and may not be while I stay here as they are keeping the flat til the Spring. But I have cleaned up and moved into the necessary rooms and I am on cloud 9 having my own space after a long year living in a 1 room space with first one roommate and then another. Oh, He is good!

In the little park right outside my new place

One of my favourite parts of this new place. Goodness, I love these beautiful windows!
 
Oh, the coziness! Did I mention I'm feeling blessed?

Me and my little 16-month-old Leona, the youngest of the 2 kids of this lovely family

Oh, how this all delights me so!
My Abba-Daddy is just showering me with His good gifts and my soul is finding so much rest after a very difficult year of waiting on Him in a season that stretched me beyond my own limits for far too long.

Whisper a thank you to Him for me for His faithful care and provision, will you? I jumped into this lifestyle of mission and ministry knowing that it would be difficult but never knowing HOW difficult til I was in it. But I also jumped in knowing that He is good, and that He promises to care for His servants. And I am so grateful!

See more photos of my new place here:

Thursday, 26 August 2010

There's a First Time for Everything...

So, my wallet was stolen from my handbag yesterday. I'm only grateful that this is the first time anything like this has happened in 5 years of living abroad on my own, and many many travels!

My lovely friend Amanda was here visiting from England and I'm so thankful for her presence! We had just spent some time at a favourite little French cafe in one of my favourite parts of town-- 'Le Petite Cafe'-- wanting to show Amanda around on her last day in Sweden, and trying to think of ways to do that while nannying for my little charge Leona at the same time. It was a very crowded place because it was a blustery, rainy day. When as we left the cafe I realized it was missing, her presence was a calming and helpful one, and as I dealt with everything in the aftermath, she helped me to laugh about it all instead of cry!

 (Amanda playing with Miss Leona at the scene of the crime ;))

I was able to get on Skype and ring my bank in the states and my card companies. Other things I was able to cancel online. All while Miss Leona had her afternoon nap. God is good!

Then after I'd finished work for the day, and after we'd retraced every step from when we knew I had last had the wallet, Amanda went down to the police station with me to file a report. New experiences, new experiences! She was delighted with the cops because of some old Swedish TV series about a cop named Wallander. She figured she might see him :) The officer who worked with me was typically Swedish and reserved, though I got him to smile a few times with my attempted Swedish :)

We joked the rest of the night about the suspects in the cafe that day. There was one uber-stylish, 50-something-aged man sitting in the cafe for the entire duration of our visit with a little brown chihuahua with a pink collar in his lap. Leona admired the puppy from the moment we entered and he was friendly with us, lifting up the little rat-sized dog for Leona to get a good look which elicited delighted squeals. Then later, after we were seated (my handbag on the floor beside my chair), he came over to us and plopped the little dog in my lap so Leona could stroke it. We joke that as a con artist, that would have been a great distraction! I asked him then, in my lousy Swedish, what the name of the dog was and Amanda and I couldn't contain our laughter when he responded, "Gucci!" :) :) :) So from then on out, despite him being very very kind, the evil camp purse-stealer and his villian Chihuahua Gucci became our prime suspects :)

Really, though, I'm just thankful for so much surrounding this major inconvenience. First, that Amanda was here with me when it happened, for that support. Secondly, that nothing irreplaceable was stolen-- though I have no idea how to go about getting a new license and SSN card??? I'm thankful that I was only carrying maybe 300kr in cash ($40 something), if I remember correctly, and that it happened now when I currently have a steady job rather than a few months ago when this would have meant struggling to see out the month. I'm thankful that I was able to call and cancel cards quite simply, even internationally, and that nothing had been charged to my account in those few hours between when I discovered it happened, and when I was able to get to my computer and do the sorting. So much to be thankful for. Including your prayers and I moved to sort this! Thank you!

If anyone has any tips for me in sorting out the license and SSN internationally, I would be very grateful! And just pray that nothing comes up that I should need a card for for the new 2 or so weeks while I wait to receive my new ones! Thankfully (anothing thing to be thankful for!) it's payday soon so I should be okay!

Hmmm, God is good. I do not know the heart of the person who took my wallet but I guess He does and even this is meant for the good of those who love Him! I'm just so thankful that it was this and not something worse!

Monday, 9 August 2010

Wait Quietly


I’ve been walking through a dark, difficult season. For so many more reasons than I can explain here.

Some of you have seen me through a few such times. Such easy discouragement, such long days working through it all, getting by at a ‘functioning’ level in the meantime, and learning new elements to depending on Him, waiting on Him. I learned in theory that following Him into full-time ministry is like painting a huge red target across your face for the enemy, but experiencing it during this assignment in Sweden has been another thing entirely. And I am very tired of the battle, and trying again and again to learn to walk upright in the midst of it, knowing that He carries it all, like the Papa He is, just letting His little one have the sensation of carrying it along with Him, but not really required to bear the weight. I tend to forget this. Learning to walk in His grace is a life-long journey…

Transitioning in this insecure lifestyle is particularly hard. He is good; preparing the way before me. He’s provided jobs to work my way to His next step for me, a flat to stay in after I leave mine the end of this month, a visa extension to stay on in Sweden, and so on and so forth. But I’ve been struggling with the way it feels to pour myself out on something in what He’s led me to believe is obedience, praying harder than I ever have in my life, and still be waiting to see the light break through.  And it’s been such a narrow, lonely road. It all just goes to let the enemy play on my own perception of my smallness. He screams at me of my not-good-enough-ness, while Jesus whispers that it was never about my ANYTHING-ness. Only His. All-sufficent One! Maybe this is all just to show me in a way that goes all the way to my core, my heart, what it truly means that You are all-sufficent… Help me to walk so humbly in the shadow of Your wing that I do not complain or lose heart,  but only dwell in the opportunity to know You more deeply through the sorrow and the ache of this season.

Last week, after a particularly disheartening situation with a friend whom I know didn’t mean for the enemy to use it the way he has, I couldn’t emotionally handle facing the issues at Rescue Mission. And I couldn’t properly pray. Only enough to say, “God, do you see how low I am? Please…” And I couldn’t seem to read His Word… So I found a recording of the entire bible. He led me to Lamentations, and then Psalms, and I laid back and listened as a strong, deep, British voice read out the ancient wisdom, ancient balm, until I could sit up and read for myself again. His gentle patience is more overwhelming than the darkness…

He wrapped my heart up in Lamentations 3:21-26, as He has done in years past. It reads, in NLT:
“Yet I still dare to hope when I remember this:
The unfailing love of the Lord never ends!
By His mercies we have been kept from complete destruction.
Great is His faithfulness; His mercies begin afresh each day.
I say to myself, ‘The Lord is my inheritance; therefore, I will hope in Him!’
The Lord is wonderfully good to those who wait for Him and seek Him.
So it is good to wait quietly for salvation from the Lord.”


It is good to wait quietly for the salvation of the Lord…

In so many ways He has been reminding me to look back at the proofs of His faithfulness to find the strength to trust on regardless of circumstances. My bible study I’ve been working through on my own, ‘Believing God’ by Beth Moore, has just ‘happened’ to be about remembering the acts of His faithfulness in the history of Israel, and in our personal histories with Him. He planted a book in my hands last week called “The Jesus Manifesto” by Leonard Sweet and Frank Viola which has been about simply looking back at the fundamentals of our faith, namely, the person, purpose, and work of Jesus Christ. I am struck anew at Who He is, and so, who I am. And slowly, slowly some light breaks in on this darkness.  And as I remember my foundation, as I cling to His faithfulness, I am given strength for my weakness to simply ‘wait quietly for the salvation of the Lord,’ knowing that “Christ is all and in all” (Col.3:11), to wait as faithfully, even it’s only the smallest drizzle of faith for a time rather than a pouring torrent.

And so I, again, reevaluate this “ministry thing” and my place in it. I take the beatings, and I dance in the joys. I ache over the current ministry I am finishing with soon, longing to see it all worked out but realizing, with a despairing heart, that I probably won’t. And I remind myself, no matter the difficulties and misunderstandings and unmet expectations and broken dreams, to look to Jesus; to never lose the wonder of the cross. To remember what it’s all about in the first place. And so, to walk stronger and step lighter, knowing that, “If Christ is in you, then the Christian life is not about striving to be something you are not. It is about becoming what you already are” and “Good works are simply fruit falling off a tree. If you will sink your roots deep in Christ, who is your life, you will not be able to stop the fruit from coming forth” (L. Sweet & F. Viola, ‘The Jesus Manifesto’). That I am responsible first to Him. If I please others in the process, great. If not… then that has to be great too. The fruit He’s dropping from this branch maybe isn't the way I hoped it would be? Or what others expect or desire? I don't know... But I guess I’m not responsible for the kind of fruit He chooses to bear from this branch of my life. I’m only responsible to abide in the vine (John 15).

He reminded me again what matters most through another quote from ‘The Jesus Manifesto’. They wrote,
“Jesus quizzed Peter with one ultimate question, and only one. And that one decisive question is the same one He asks us today.
It is not, ‘Are you ready to accept leadership status in my church?’
It is not, ‘How many people did you lead to Me?’
It is not, ‘Have you spoken in tongues yet?’
It is not, ‘Is leadership your passion?’
It is not, ‘To whom will you be accountable?’
It is not, ‘Are you doing better than the best you can do so God will be happy with you?’
The question is only this: ‘Do you love me?’”

I just want my answer to always be a resounding, ‘Yes! Oh, yes.”
And I want my very living to display it.
The rest just follows...

So I press on.

Thank you so much to all of you who have been praying for me. You have no idea how He bends to hear your whispers to heaven and how He remembers me here and moves to show me so…

Remain in His unfathomable Love and live to love on, love on, love on--
Leah

Thursday, 5 August 2010

Featuring Racham Ministries!

I just wanted to share this great feature post about Racham and Gabi!:
http://www.realheartprints.com/2010/08/syl-mama-gabi-racham-ministries/

If anyone would like to spread the word of this brand new ministry Racham needing support and prayers and funds on your blog, please let me know! It would be such a helping hand at the moment...

Love!
Leah

Sunday, 1 August 2010

Being Introduced with Racham :)

Gabi, the lovely friend starting Racham Ministries, asked me to introduce myself on her blog as we look toward heading out to Uganda in January! Feel free to have a read :)

http://icarryyouinme.wordpress.com/2010/07/31/introducing-leah/

And bookmark this blog to read updates about Racham in future! The Lord is up to things :) Mmmm, love Him!

Wednesday, 28 July 2010

Trust by Kristine Mueller & Jesus Culture



Trust
It's the sweetest thing to trust You
Just to know that You've got everything under control

It's the sweetest thing to trust You
Just to know that You've got everything

And You are making me a mountain
Making me a mountain that cannot be shaken
You are making me a mountain
Making me a mountain that cannot be moved

High up on a rock
Looking out at the horizon
Watching as the storm rolls in
Wondering if my heart will survive it
As the waves crash all around me
And can't remember what it feels like to be free

I know You're making me a mountain
Making me a mountain that cannot be shaken
You are making me a mountain
Making me a mountain that cannot be moved

You say, I've got you my baby, I've got you
it's quite the mess you're in but it's nothing Love can't fix
So sit here upon my shoulders and watch as it all unwinds

You are making me a mountain
Making me a mountain that cannot be shaken
I know You're making me a mountain
Making me a mountain that cannot be moved
(Kristine Mueller & Jesus Culture)

Sometimes... I just play this song on repeat
again and again and again and again.

Friday, 23 July 2010

What a cool idea...

I want to give a shameless plug to this site: http://matthew2540.zenfolio.com/  in the hopes that everyone who reads this might check it out!

It's a group of photographers putting their work up for sale in order to support ministry to orphans in Uganda! Currently, 1/3 of all the profits will go to Racham-- the ministry I'm going out to work with as its Children's Home in Uganda gets established in the first few months of the coming year!

I LOVE the creative way they've found to sew into His Kingdom!!

Check it out and spread the word.These could make some lovely, meaningful gifts and it's never too early to stock up for Christmas when it means being His hands and feet in the world while you're at it!

Wednesday, 21 July 2010

Favour of the King...

I applied to have my visa extended today in order to stay in Sweden even after my commitment with the current ministry is up. It's in order to continue working with a family I've been nannying for to save up for Uganda in January-Apr. I applied today, and 25 minutes later they put the visa in my passport today. Just like that. That kind of reaction time is unheard of here. Everyone I tell says, "That never happens." I can't help but smile in awe at Him who knows no such thing as "never"...

It was very encouraging for so many reasons. First off, the way He's just unfolded EVERYTHING just so-- the job, the place to stay, the visa extension, etc (I even had just enough money to cover the cost of the extension because of the babysitting jobs He provided last week!)-- just encourages me onward in this uncertain path so far out of my own plan. Africa? And I've met with such opposition about going to Uganda from loved and respected people in my life. If He wasn't reconfirming this day after day with the way He's just leading me right through open doors, I would never even be able to consider it.

And simply because I've run into such discouragement in general this week, such overbearing discouragement that I'm struggling to stand up under. Feeling so very lonely as if in some far-flung corner of the world completely alone, and feeling so insecure, like just waiting for the bottom to fall out. This "little miracle" today is just heavy with His hand and the fact that He cares to reach into my life at all-- to let me know that  He's got me and He's never letting go, that I can trust Him, regardless of how it feels-- that just wraps me up in comfort.

And on top of that, my lovely Auntie in America the other day, knowing nothing of what's been transpiring, wrote to tell me that He's laid it on her heart to pray specifically for my comfort. Woah. And my sister wrote today to say that He's laid me on another precious heart lately-- my 3 year old niece brought me up in her precious prayers!! I could cry just thinking of it (and I am) :)

I hate that I need so much encouragement. I feel like I'm too demanding on Him. Yet... He doesn't seem to mind. He seems to delight in giving it. And always, always, I am left breathless at His attention, at His love.

How can I do anything but pour it all out for You right back, Love?

And this precious song again plays in my mind...

Tuesday, 20 July 2010

"Always do what you are afraid to do..."
Ralph Waldo Emerson

This arrived in my email today. Kinda timely, I'd say.
(Sometimes I roll my eyes at Him and smile.)

Sunday, 18 July 2010

No Selling-out to Security...

Yesterday I moved into a beautiful, spacious apartment on a hill with big windows, high-ceilings, white walls, and a cat called Amos. I'm house-sitting  for 3 weeks for an American/Finnish couple I met through friends while they're on holiday in Finland. I am LOVING this place, even if it does feel huge after my tiny, one-room flat I share with a roommate, and empty with just the cat and I.

Yesterday on the tram in between jobs the Lord and I were talking through some things on my heart (I seem to do a lot of talking with God on my commutes here and there from day to day!), mostly about how unsettled my life is, and the toll that takes... About my next step, the way people have responded to my sharing with them what He's doing in that area, and the way I feel about it, the things I desire and don't, the lonesomeness inherent in this stage of life.

And the line He spoke so clearly to my heart and which has held me firmly since whenever the anxieties bubble up was, "I didn't make My people to be sell-outs to Security." I find the reminder of that truth so powerful right now. Security is not a bad thing in and of itself! I do hope to have some semblance more of it than I do now in His time. But not as my goal, and not at the risk of trusting Him through the less 'secure' things He might call me to. But how potent is the temptation to do just that-- to sell out to so-called 'security' in this life-- when He has made us to be completely counter-cultural, to live as if life truly is but a breath in light of eternity, living as if nothing else matters except to know Him and make Him known! He never said to only reach out as long as we are safe and secure in doing so. No, the ones who have refused to be sell-outs to earthly security, like Paul, have instead poured out their lives like drink offerings (Phil 2:17). And He's always kept His promise to the ones who leave much in order to follow Him, that they will have as much restored to them times a hundred (along with persecutions, so you shouldn't be surprised or daunted by opposition, silly Leah...) and in the rapidly approaching 'age to come', eternal life (Mark 10:29-30). I realize anew that I may struggle every day on this earth with the fight between my flesh and His Spirit in me, one longing so much to curl up safe in a 'security' I could build with my own hands, and the other knowing that His Security is the only true security. It could mean death or disease (I can testify to that one...) or loss or homelessness (and that one...) or heartbreak (yep) or hurt (yep, yep) or as many difficult things as you can imagine on this earth. But our time here is literally the blink of an eye in comparison with eternity, where none of those things can touch us. Eternity is the only real security. And that's the truth He's called us to live reflecting to the world.

You've heard the phrase, "So heavenly minded that she's of no earthly good" ? I'm afraid that's just not the way it works. Col. 3:2 tells us to, "Set your mind on things above, not on the things that are on earth." A life lived this biblical way is what William Penn called, "True godliness" which "does not turn turn men out of the world, but enables them to live better in it and excites their endeavors to mend it." Faith must be followed up with action, or it's dead.

So... I will luxuriate in this place He's given me to make home in for the next 3 weeks and let it remind me of the Security I rest in, even when I have no other rest in the world's eye. And I will continually pray for a renewed mind to see the world the way He does and not the way I naturally do. So that I might truly live as if there is no fear in Love...

Thank You, Love. Teach me how to stand so securely in You that I won't give in to the temptation to sell-out to so-called security out of fear when this life is so short, Your love is SO big, and Your ways so much higher...
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