Thursday, 28 January 2010

I Put on Christ

"Blessed be the Lord, my Rock,

who trains my hands for battle,
who trains my hands for war...
I don't fight as one who beats the air,
give me eyes to see and ears to hear.
I put on Christ.
I make no provision for my flesh
Put on the whole armor of God..."

This song has pointed my eyes back to His faithful, unfailing, victorious, sovereign face today.

I've been really struggling under a heavy heart.
I've been fighting a spiritual war in exhausting prayer and intercession and day-to-day life for months now, and I've been in so over my head. I am not yet very familiar with spiritual warfare. I grew up in a comfortable, middle-class Baptist family ;)

But He doesn't move in futility. He doesn't pass our lives through any circumstance by coincidence. He has placed me here with this ministry for such a time as this, knowing full well my inadequacies. I think maybe that's even why He has done. Because of myself I know I have so little to give, which makes lots of room for Him to be all in all...

How easily we fall into a stupor, forgetting that there is a spiritual reality more real than our earthly one (Eph. 6:12). How easily we live as if there is no need for urgency, for passion, as if we are not engaged in a cataclysmic battle for the hearts of men. Those of us who profess the Lord are fighting a winning battle! But we still must take our stand, because the Word of God tells us that the days are evil and though we live for the Prince of All, the prince of this earth for this time is satan. If we are not actively standing up against it, we are caught in the flow of the natural world. Hence, He tells us to arm ourselves with His full armor of truth, righteousness, the Gospel, faith, salvation, and His Spirit (Eph 6:14-18).

The good news is, we needn't be caught in that flow. He has provided for us every thing we need to live a life of godliness (2 Pet 1:3).

So... I throw off all this heavy discouragement that has been following me around for weeks, and I put on Christ.

I don't want to be sleeping while the battle is raging.

Thank You, Lord, because I am Yours and You are mine. And your purposes are so high and you want me to be a part of them. Your holiness astounds me. Your love holds me.

Let's go out and fight this battle You've already won.

Thursday, 21 January 2010

Jehovah-Jirah. The God Who Provides.

I'm amazed by my God.
As usual.
But I have to share anyway :)

I've been having such a difficult week. Just generally low. With the baby being born back home, I've been feeling really down about missing out on so much on the homefront while facing so many giants here, and feeling so lonely. Then a friend from England whom I've been looking forward to seeing had to cancel his visit-- driving home the loneliness. I've been clinging to the Truth of Who He is and how I have been called in Him, and trusting Him to carry me right through the darkness that settles about like the long Swedish winter, but that's not changed the way it FEELS.

And in this low week, He's chosen to break through with some seemingly unrelated ways of encouraging me. And there are bursts of lights in the Swedish darkness!

I was contacted early this week by a young American family here who are looking for a regular babysitter for their gorgeous, easy-going 5 month old boy and they want me! They're first-time parents and she's hardly left her baby but she says she feels really at ease leaving him with me because of all my experience-- even though she found me through a post I put up on an English-speaking Gothenburg newspaper's website! So, I'm able to fit some paid work in beside the Rescue Mission work, and it's delightful 'work' besides-- simply caring for a sweet baby which hardly feels like work as it comes quite naturally ;) God has lined it all up so perfectly, I can't even describe it. I'm just in awe of His provision!!! I mean, I was always hoping for a paid job as long as it fit in alongside working at the ministry-- realizing how wearying it would all be. I just needed Him to bring around the *timely*, *English-speaking* job. Instead, He's got me paid work doing something I love (and it's rejuvenating to do something you love!) and which will give me space from Rescue Mission besides-- which is so necessary in any ministry. Besides that, this family lives RIGHT in the city centre. I mean.... it's an incredible location. So easy to get to and so beautifully placed. He knows my heart needs beauty :) I am just really amazed. It takes me 45 minutes to travel from where I live to Rescue Mission each day by tram and bus. The distance between their flat and mine is a straight 15 minute shot on one tram :)

And that's not all! Earlier in the week, He sent along a RANDOM pledge of support from friends in England I never expected who happened to discover a bank account they didn't know they had, and felt strongly to use it for ministry. Not only that, but they have told me exactly what they hope for it to go toward, which is something I have been praying for Him to provide for-- the health stuff: Diabetic appts, prescriptions, gym membership, etc. I am just blown away. And I love that He did it all in this week when I've been struggling so...

Wow. I'm just... amazed. And realizing more and more that this elusive business of trusting Him is really mostly about waiting on Him, His time, His way....

He will teach me trust. He will teach me dependence. He will teach me how deep His love and faithfulness goes. And I will learn not to fear anything, anyone, any circumstance, only Him.

Praise You, Jehovah-Jirah. The God Who Provides.

And now you must humour me again as a doting Auntie and gaze in wonder at 3 of the most beautiful blessings He's placed in my life. Abby (4), Emily (2), and new baby Kenan (nearly a week) reflecting His beauty and love :)

Sunday, 17 January 2010

Introducing Kenan Daniel Kopkie!

Kenan Daniel Kopkie
9lbs, 6oz, 21 inches long
and loved, loved, loved!

Another Kopkie child to love :) Heaven knows his big sisters sure do!

Kenan snoozing with his papa

And meeting his glowing mommy!!!

We love you, little man. Welcome to the family! Auntie is praising God for you :)

Saturday, 16 January 2010

A New Baby Nephew born January 15th!

I sit here in my comfortable, old, favourite cafe in Gothenburg. This place and I go way back... I'm cozied up in my great, big, brown, woolen sweater-- the one that reminds of what a proper writer ought to wear, the sleeves so long that my fingers only peek out the ends to type--, listening to the incredible sounds of Newton Faulkner on the guitar, and I'm looking out the window onto the dark street wet with melting snow, smelling the sweet aroma of coffee wafting through the place, and thinking of my new baby nephew resting happily in his mommy's arms in their hospital room so far away and thanking God for his safe delivery and the welcoming family he has to greet him.

My sister finally gave birth to my yet unnamed nephew-- 9lbs, 6 oz, 21 inches long. And I can't help but smile as I think of His grace which has, "cared for [us] since [we] were born. Yes, [He] carried [us] before [we] were born. [He] will be [our] God throughout [our] lifetime[s]-- until [our] hair turns white with age. [He] made [us] and [He] will care for [us]. [He] will carry [us] along and save [us]" (Isaiah 46:3-4). What a beautiful, kind, loving, masterful God we serve...

I miss home today.

I so want to see my precious nieces' faces when they meet their baby brother. I can imagine little Emily (2 years old) straining on tip-toe to kiss her baby brother's wrinkly forehead, and Abby being the big sister and instructing her on how to be careful :) I can just see them jumping up and down in mommy's hospital room with such excitement after such a long wait. My sister's family is very precious to me. And I so wish I could be there with them.

Emily (2) and Abby (4) with their 4 month old cousin, my nephew Tucker :)
He was good practice for these two sisters as they prepared for a baby brother in their family!

Congratulations, my loves. Auntie misses you. I lay you in the hands of this huge, loving God I serve and wait for the day I get to cuddle all 4 of my nieces and nephews again!!

I've just come in from the cold to my favourite cafe after a friend took me out for a lovely Indian meal and I'm feeling blessed, if a little bit homesick. Now it's off to prepare to teach Sunday School tomorrow on Jesus calling the 12 Disciples. And then to seek Him for how He'd like me to lead the service for the main part of church as well!

(It's His kindness that keep me aware of how completely I must depend on Him.
So I'm thankful.)

Love in Him,

Friday, 8 January 2010

Medical Adventures in International Living

So, I had my first appointment with a Diabetic specialist here in Sweden this morning.

I was dreading it for days. I always do. Diabetes and I have never found peace sharing the same body. And doctors have been far more damaging (emotionally) to me than helpful from the time I was 7 years old. I think this may be some of the reason behind feeling so discouraged and weighed down the past few days. Diabetes is such an emotionally oppressive thing and it's always the lead up to seeing the doctor when it affects me the most.

My God walked with me up this frozen street toward the hospital at Wieselgrensplatsen, the sort of 'city square' nearest my flat (this is where I get groceries, go to the post office, etc, etc. My little neighbourhood). He hovers so tenderly near every time living with this disease gets to me the most.

And the receptionist was so beautifully helpful and sweet, fishing for English words to explain things to me in this new system! Trying to explain how a "frikort" works-- that I pay for each appt. up to 900 kronor a year. This appt was 300kr (Approx. $42). Please will you pray with me for Him to bring this money in before my credit card is due? I don't have any room in my monthly support for extra expenses like this. Testing my trust in His provision, as usual!

My new doctor is so typically Swedish it's almost laughable. Tall and lean and blond and fair, with solidly-cut features and a firm handshake. And a typical doctor in that he had that unnerving "I know everything" attitude. But untypical, in that he really didn't seem to know much of what he was doing. Haha. He kept referring to his nurse to educate me on how things are done here, but I won't see his nurse for 4 or 5 weeks and must wait for them to assign me an appt. with her. Funny how it will only cost 100kr to see her, and she does far more work :) Oh doctors! He didn't test anything-- not even my blood pressure. Just looked at my perfectly wonderful feet (!) and checked my belly for the infusion set sites for my pump! And he only looked at my medical records when I prompted him. But, he did send in a prescription for me to get my insulin in this country! So, that's a relief :) The prescription pricing system works separate from the appointment one, and the cap on prescriptions is 1,800kr in a year. So, I'm not desperately needing insulin yet, but please pray that He will provide the funds when the time comes!

Or heal me of this disease before then :)

My A1c is up again. Dr. Strandberg (pronounced: str-aw-nd-berry) says that he thinks I must feel very poorly with an H1c in the 10's. I don't feel poorly as a rule, but I suppose that's because the climb is gradual. I would love to lower it.... Please pray with me for better discipline with glucose testing, and for God to keep providing use of a gym!! I thought I would get a few gym passes with some Christmas money and then discovered that the 10-times-card that I thought to get would cost $113!! I was so disappointed as I had been looking forward to this since Christmas, expecting it to be under $50 and figuring I could spend Christmas gift money on it and not feel irresponsible when everything is so hand-to-mouth. So I was stunned when the conversion rate puts the price at $113. But He provided another free weeklong pass like I tried (and loved) in October :) And I can only expect that He will provide other ways after that!

I am really coming to a place in my walk with him where the spiritual is meeting up with the physical. Our bodies are the temple of His precious Holy Spirit. This body of mine will never be perfectly healthy. It's slogged along under the oppression of this auto-immune disease since it was only 7 years old, but it's going strong. Even after all the abuse I've put it through by taking out my stress and angst on it in years past, with eating-disorders and self-mutilation and just not liking it enough to look after it. I feel like I'm finally reaching a space where the desire to live well in Him, to honour Him with my whole life, is stronger than the insecurities and bad self-esteem. And that means a new interest in living healthy. I don't endeavour to be perfect, that's not gonna happen. I live in reality :) But to make a lifestyle out of making healthy choices as far as they present themselves... And so, I have a new-found love for the gym :) I'm also part vegetarian :)

So, please pray with me for His provision in the use of a gym! At least during the winter when it's too icy to continue jogging. It is especially vital to my Diabetes management.

After seeing the dr, I sat with such a kind nurse in the lab for a few minutes to test my kidneys (which are A-ok!) and be educated on the way the Swedish system works (prices, appts, pharmacies, etc.... SO HELPFUL!). She was the sweetest, most helpful thing, and I found myself just thanking the Lord for sending her my way. I wasn't supposed to see her today, but she happily took me in. And invited me back up anytime I have any questions. So kind!

He provides. Not the way we expect most of the time, but always always always :) And I am thankful.

So, I walked home in the bright (COLD) Swedish sunshine with a huge sigh of relief to have got that particular 'first' out of the way now. Thank you so much for everyone who has been praying. I know it's hard to understand the emotional struggle attached to living with this livable disease. Thank you for hanging in there with me anyway. You are gems and jewels.

"O Lord, if You heal me, I will be truly healed;
if You save me, I will be truly saved.
My praises are for You alone!"
-- Jer. 17:14

Wednesday, 6 January 2010

Psalm 23-- The Voice Bible Translation

''The Eternal One is my Shepherd, He cares for me always.
He provides me rest in rich, green fields
besides streams of refreshing water.
He soothes my fears;
He makes me whole again,
steering me off worn, hard paths to roads where truth and righteousness echo His name.

Even in the unending shadow of death's darkness,
I am not overcome by fear.
Because You are with me in those dark moments,
near with Your protection and guidance,
I am comforted.
You spread out a table for me,
provisions in the midst of attack from my enemies;
You care for all my needs. anointing my head with soothing, fragrant oil,
filling my cup again and again with Your grace.
Certainly Your faithful protection and loving provision will pursue me,
where I go, always, everywhere.
I will always be with the Eternal One,
in Your house forever."

I find I've been fighting discouragement since New Years. Maybe it's that let down after the holidays. Maybe it's the darkness of the Swedish winter playing havoc on my emotions. Maybe it's loneliness.

I wouldn't say I'm hopeless, just kind of... unhopeful. And it's really starting to get to me. This dissatisfaction. This sort of oppression of my spirit. I'm made for joy. It's even in my name ;) But I'm struggling to see anything through His eyes of hope and expectation at the minute. And I don't have a reason or a name for it. Just general dissatisfaction...

Whenever the roommate's out, I play my worship music LOUD, singing along even though I suspect the neighbours get an earful. THIS song has been an especially poignant one for me this week... again, I don't know why. It just holds my heart and when I sing along, the words come from my soul.... I think worshipping in song is my prayer language...

"I'll say goodbye to my father, my mother
I'll turn my back on every other lover
And I'll press on, yes I'll press on.
For I am in love with You
And there is no cost
I am in love with You
And there is no loss
I am in love with You
I wanna take Your name
I am in love with You
And I wanna cling to You, Jesus
Just let me cling to You, Jesus..."

Yes, Lord.
God, fill in the cracks in my faith, stand in the gaps in my trust.
I wanna cling to You...

Friday, 1 January 2010

Ponderings & Prayers...

I like to take some time each New Year to sit with God and reflect on all that the last year has held, the seasons He has shepherded my heart through in a 12-month-measurement of time. To revisit the way each season felt there in the midst of it, and to smile at how it now looks in hindsight, and savour His faithfulness, His sovereignty, His loving leading. What an Abba-Daddy...

I started this year in the States, finding myself suspended in this strange realm between worlds-- home in Minnesota, yet always waiting for the moment He'd put me on a flight back to my work in Europe; growing and deepening my MN relationships, yet feeling strange and misplaced among them; praying with a new kind of surrender for His Will, whether that be stateside or European, but somehow knowing somewhere deeper than reason can follow that it was European; feeling like an awkward 15-year-old girl again moving in the old circles, living under my parents' roof, depending on family for rides anywhere and everywhere, and yet relishing the family time so much... And all the while learning new grooves of His heart that I hadn't touched in quite the same way before, being given new elements of faith, new boldness in vulnerability, realizing in ever-new measure what it means when God says He is enough...

And seeing Him work His will despite so many hang-ups and seeming hiccups in the process of visas, and fundraising, and flights, and just the tenuous thing that is a life of mission... I'm learning that to try to make it make sense is foolishness!

Returning to Sweden for the Spring and half of the summer, having my rose-coloured glasses ripped off and stomped on, and again, learning His heart in new ways... I find it's become the theme of my life, this constant learning His heart. It is so deep and so wide, I will never know it all. They are deeply difficult lessons, but I find Him worth it all... every time.

2009 has been a year of choosing life over death. Not death in the literal sense, but in the sense of choosing to live hidden away in my comfortable, but painful, self-inflicted shells. I have chosen to share with people in deep authenticity, in deep vulnerability, knowing that when I am weak, He is strong. But it's not easy. I have been pursued by a strong, handsome, adoring man who wanted to marry me... but whom I couldn't feel peace about no matter how I prayed and so, despite it being one of the deepest desires of my heart, to be married and share a life of ministry and have a family, decided to say no to dating him... just in time to return to the states for 2 weddings ("always the bridesmaid, never the bride," as they say never smarted quite so much...)-- intense, but right and I'm so thankful He led me to that decision, knowing that I'd rather continue serving Him alone than try to do it with anyone other than His best for me. My God is gentle and leads well, it's just so much easier to see in hindsight! And it was SUCH an honour to be bridesmaid this summer. In that time I also met and fell in love with my new baby nephew :) I grieved deeply over broken childhood dreams and more cutting of my heart-strings tying me to home, laughed long with my baby brother, and learned more of how to love with His love as I spent fleeting time with those back home-- all the while praying over the visa situation, that His will would be done. Knowing that going back to Rescue Mission would be hard, as would starting all over in finding my next appointment in ministry in Europe!

And then the visa came through, and I was returning to Sweden in September with a residency permit for a year! I got my first flat :) And started a women's ministry. And I went back to work with Rescue Mission, and learned to cling to His heart in new ways... ways I'm still learning as I hold on with white knuckles, but also with a smile. He is so good, so good, so good. And I am His. He is teaching me what it truly means to fear nothing and no one but Him. So what better position could I possibly be in?

I braced myself and stepped into the dating world. And I find I like being taken out by interesting Christian guys and spoiled rotten-- all the better if they are ministry-minded and purposeful. The lessons of boldness and bravery and worth that He means to teach me in the process of going on dates are not quite as enjoyable as the exploring of fun cities and eating nice food with interesting people, but I am so grateful for how He leads and loves and holds on to me in His patience...

And I've travelled new roads in the long process of learning to trust Him completely in this "living by faith" business, understanding what it means to be reliant on Him for the most basic needs to be met, like rent and groceries and electricity and winter clothes, and in that also learning to trust Him in the bigger things, like health and faith and dreams and family and life decisions...

I returned to England after a year of not stepping foot in that country which He has used to so shape and mold my heart through my experiences and education there. I basked in the honour of meeting my new baby god-daughter and I learned to accept His love in new ways through accepting the love of my darling friends scattered across that land of my heart. The 2 weeks meant more to me than many months, and refined my dilemma on what to do after my Swedish visa is up in September-- to aim toward getting an English one and carving out for myself a European base in ministry there.

I also published my first piece of freelance writing... and am learning to invest in the gifts He's given me instead of constantly grabbing after talents I don't possess. Somehow this is a very long, drawn-out journey, complicated even more by the issues in the ministry here and finding the right balance between pleasing him and pleasing the ones He's put in leadership over me for this season. But one day at a time...

I think He is teaching me to have a bit of grace with myself.

And again, what I circle back to at the end of this year full of learning to live and learning to love is this: I am His.
And as such, I dwell in the only true security and certainty that there is: His Love.
His ever-lasting, over-flowing, limitless, borderless, measureless, conditionless Love which calls deep unto deep and takes me deeper still...

So, 2010, I belong to this King of Love and He will fill you as He will in my life. I greet you with a hopeful hello, and wonder what you carry to me from His heart and His hand. Whatever it is, it comes from His Love... so bring it on!
...Here I am, Lord. Send me.
"The land you are... to take possession of is a land of mountains and valleys that drinks rain from heaven. It is a land the Lord your God cares for; the eyes of the Lord your God are continually on it from the beginning of the year to its end."
-- Deut. 11:11-12

Happy New Year!

I just want to share this post with you from the blog of my amazing new friend Jodi on this first day of 2010!!

Love, love, love!
p.s. Photos of New Year's Eve in Sweden here!
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...