I was scrolling through my files today and found a letter I wrote in May 2016. What a blessing to see God at work through all the parts and stages of our lives!
Our church secretary regularly prints praises in the bulletin. She texted me Saturday to see if I had a praise to put in. I was immediately overwhelmed because there are so many things to praise God about! I ended up telling her to include how thankful I am that my sister decided to ask God to stretch her comfort zone and grow her heart and then was obedient when He called her to work as a reporter in Houston, TX. My sister is graduating this weekend and moving to Texas the next week. God is getting the glory on that one!
Meanwhile, I want to praise God for lots of other things going on in my sphere– things that don’t make sense to me except that He has a part of it. I hope you will enjoy hearing and be spurred on to follow Him more with this update of praise.
My friend recently reminded me in the fall that God didn’t just send Jesus to die for our sins. Jesus died to restore a relationship with us. Part of a relationship is honesty. It’s okay to tell God that you want things – to talk to Him about anything and everything because He cares so much for you that He wants to be in that relationship with you. First, I’m thankful that God chose to restore a relationship with us – how crazy is that? Second, I’m thankful for this friend and the thought provoking conversations that we always have. God is so organized when He lines up things like friends, well, and everything. One of the things I started talking to God about was my desire to have a husband someday. Before when I’ve prayed for my husband I’ve just prayed that God would take care of whoever he is. This conversation with God was different though, because I was expressing my heart instead of praying dutifully and I was actually asking God if I could have a husband.
So many times this year God has blown me away. Matthew 7:7, “Ask and it will be given to you.” I asked for a light fixture for the auditorium from the business office, just to ask and check asking off my list so I could move on to plan B, and they gave me $300. I wrote letters to 15 pickle companies to donate incentives for my students just to ask, thinking the story would end there. I have 80 some jars of pickles in my classroom right now and I still haven’t used all the vouchers! I feel that God has called me to pray for my small caseload of students, knowing that His promises are good. I only have 7 students or so each year; surely God would be gracious to bring each of them to Himself sometime throughout their life. Now I’m praying for all the students who signed up for the Pickle Program! He’s expanded my prayer list in such an unusual way. It makes me laugh! But the biggest way I’ve been overwhelmed is when I asked God (like I hardly asked – it was sort of like God read my heart – I can’t take any credit for asking) for a guy to share the beauty of life with and God proved Himself once again to be an over-achiever. I’m very thankful to serve an over-achiever God. Matthew 7:11 says, “So if you sinful people know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give good gifts to those who ask Him.” I remember one night early on when I met Kris, just journaling with tears running down my face. For whatever Kris and I turn out to be, it surely is a very good gift from God and God is using Kris to teach me about His love and to challenge me to draw closer to Him by stepping out in obedience and diving into God’s word. And Kris is always pointing out a flower or an animal or a sunset to me to remind me of our Great Creator. It’s like God gave me Kris so that I could praise God in new ways. Okay, this sounds like a really good plan!
Kris has introduced me to his friends at the Crossroads Wednesday night Group. It is so refreshing to be in a community of people who dive into God’s word hungry and leave each week full of fellowship, encouragement, and truth. It reminds me a lot of my time at Roberts Wesleyan College, growing spiritually in the greenhouse. I’m thankful for God opening the door to this church and community to me. I’m thankful that He has answered my prayers about whether or not I should leave my church and showed me that Crossroads is where I will attend in September. I’m thankful for new friends and laughter and treasures I’m discovering in the book of Mark about His kingdom. I snuck away during worship last week and found myself praying in the quiet nursery. On the walls was a whimsical mural of Noah’s ark. It was like another rainbow promise: VBS where God has called me to direct at my church this year is about Noah and I could envision myself at the other end of the rainbow serving in at Crossroads someday. Friends I am blessed by the Lord to begin to get to know have stories and encounters with God that are inspiring me to chase the Lord in new ways. I’m so thankful for His grace and for His joy. Praising Him about this too!
Before I started attending the group I did a book study on my own that they were doing together. It was the study that went along with the War Room movie. Of all of it, I was most challenged about the speed of my obedience to God. Sometimes God asks us to do things and if we put it off, the opportunity is lost. I began focusing on praying about the speed of my obedience. Oh it is hard! But God is so great and has continually proved faithful! I’ve only really had one opportunity to try out speed obedience so far. I’d been praying for a more direct way to talk about Jesus with my colleagues. In the school day there really is not time for chitchat or evangelism. There isn’t even time for all the professional conversations we are supposed to have. My childhood friend is getting married at the end of the month (woah!). On the way to her bridal shower before Easter I was considering this dilemma about Jesus and my colleagues when I remembered that she had led a Bible study for women called Seamless. It’s the complete story of the Bible all woven together by a writer named Angie Smith. To practice speed obedience, after the shower I went home and ordered 9 books. Through conversations with trusted mentors who knew the nature of my workplace, we decided to launch an online Bible study. By “we” I mean Jesus and hardly me. I was pretty sure it was just going to be me doing the study. Maybe ordering the 9 books was just a practice exercise. At least that is what I thought. Uh – God is faithful and like I said, an over-achiever! I had to order another book! There are 10 of us in the study – all ages and all walks – though most do have a church background. The emailing discussions aren’t very lengthy, but the hallway conversations give hints that it truly is God that makes things grow and He is on the move! One is reading Bible stories to her children before bed. Others are all getting back into the groove of Bible study. Today I met with one to have a mini-study about a passage she was studying in Deuteronomy over lunch. The Christ-followers are feeling more connected and one has offered to open her home for a fellowship time at the end of the study. I’m getting a lot out of the study too, even the second time around. I’m constantly asking, “What is my life?!” Well, it isn’t my life, that’s the thing, but I’m excited to be along for the ride! To God be the glory for sure! I can’t wait to see what’s next!
In other news, VBS planning is underway, and I’m learning humility. Even though I’m 25 I still feel like the verse in 2 Timothy 4:12 applies. “Do not let anyone look down on you because you are young, but be an example for other believers in your speech, behavior, love, faithfulness, and purity.” I’m pretty young and God has put me in a position to lead. Wow, I need Jesus. I’m thankful for this opportunity. I’m thankful for the recognition of the need I have for the Lord.
Other things to praise God about: friends that stop by, Kris’ extended family, my new television stand (free), time with friends and Kris talking about God, dandelions and daisies, God’s hand at the Warehouse, a place to live and work, a working car, creativity, quiet photography walks listening to the birds, family, health, food, technology to stay in touch, and so much more.
I hope this letter finds you well. I’m not sending it to very many of you, but I hope that it encourages you. Love you!
Lamentations 3:22-23 “The steadfast love of the LORD never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.”
Featured image from: https://pixabay.com/en/letters-email-mail-hand-leave-2794672/