Positivity Feast.

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Cause & Effect: A testimony to Kingdom Principles.

Last summer before I left for Iceland I was a little troubled as to what to do with my car. I thought about selling it and using the money for my YWAM trip to Iceland, but then I felt like God was impressing on me to give it away. “Give my car away?!” was my first reaction. That seemed a bit radical and extreme. So I told God to open my eyes to someone who needed a car as sort of my fleece before the Lord. Sure enough not shortly after (I think it was even in the same week) a friend’s mom informed me that her daughter needed a car—there it was…and then came the second hesitation, wondering whether I had really heard God or if it was all a coincidence. Yeah right. So the night before I left I gave her my car…..keep this in mind and keep reading…

This week/weekend has been a hard one. Starting with this past weekend in Virginia Beach. Aside from all the fun at the beach and spending time with good friends it had a bit of challenges strung within. Funny because on my birthday (the day we left) I was spending time with Papa and asking him about what this next year was going to hold. I felt like he was telling me that it was going to hold a lot of challenges in unexpected areas—areas where I thought I was smooth sailing. During this weekend I struggled with the way others were wired—that being different than my own. You see, I’m a bit of a left-brainer. I make lots of plans, lists, I try extremely hard to never be late and I am also pretty directionally gifted. I can be free-spirited and laid back when needed but normally within the structure of a plan; which I know is a bit contradictory. The people I was with this weekend (and have been with constantly in my trips to Iceland & Kenya) are by default more on the free-spirited side of things. So it sent my left-brain into overdrive. I couldn’t sleep when someone was driving for fear they would get us lost, I felt I needed to make plans for the day or nothing would happen, and I essentially spent a lot of time judging them for their lack (what I thought was lack) of organization. I wasn’t having a grace for the way they were wired and essentially I was being a bit selfish in my thinking. Just because they’re not wired the same way I am does not make them wrong. God showed me some ungodly beliefs attached to that: 1. “I can’t trust others to do what they say they will so I must plan for their failure ahead of time and do it myself.” Not true (obviously that’s why its a UGB).

We returned to Nashville late Monday evening and Tuesday morning I had to wake up pretty early to Nanny. I plugged in my phone and set 2 alarms on it to make sure I’d wake up. I woke up, looked at my phone and it was dead…it hadn’t charged all night. Panicked, I ran to the kitchen and sure enough it was 30 minutes after I was supposed to be at work. I rushed around and drove a little speedily to their house, unable to call them because my phone was dead and I didn’t have their number or a phone to use if I did (this is where landlines come in handy). By the time I got there she had already called in a sub for her class (she’s a teacher) and I know they were both pretty frustrated. “My phone died” is not a very good reason to be that late. Both of them did a very good job at displaying the fathers grace, although frustrated they encouraged me not to be too hard on myself and remember we all make mistakes. Along with some good pointers to be prepared—-like having an alarm clock in addition to my phone. :)

I tell that story for the direct connection between my judgments about seemingly lack of organization all weekend and then my “failure” the next day. I reaped the judgments I had sown almost immediately. I learned though. Not only to be more prepared, but also a reminder that you really do reap what you sow.

Reaping what you sow has great benefits though. Remember the car I gave away? Well the girl I gave it to moved back to Israel and so she returned it to me (which was quite helpful) not long after I got back from Iceland. In addition Tyler was just given a car to use as long as he needs. He reaped blessing from what I had sown. How cool is that?

Sorry I’m jumping all over the place with my stories…but all of these are connected to the overall epiphany of cause & effect this week.

Today I was talking with the Father of the child I nanny for and he was telling me how he was reading Psalm 107 (probably my favorite Psalm) that morning and what he noticed was how often it says “Oh, that men would praise [and confess to] the Lord for His goodness and loving-kindness and His wonderful works to the children of men!”—4 times to be exact. Lets break it down..

21Oh, that men would praise [and confess to] the Lord for His goodness and loving-kindness and His wonderful works to the children of men!
22And let them sacrifice the sacrifices of thanksgiving and rehearse His deeds with shouts of joy and singing!
23Some go down to the sea and travel over it in ships to do business in great waters;
24These see the works of the Lord and His wonders in the deep.
25For He commands and raises up the stormy wind, which lifts up the waves of the sea.
26[Those aboard] mount up to the heavens, they go down again to the deeps; their courage melts away because of their plight.
27They reel to and fro and stagger like a drunken man and are at their wits’ end [all their wisdom has come to nothing].
28Then they cry to the Lord in their trouble, and He brings them out of their distresses.
29He hushes the storm to a calm and to a gentle whisper, so that the waves of the sea are still.
30Then the men are glad because of the calm, and He brings them to their desired haven.
31Oh, that men would praise [and confess to] the Lord for His goodness and loving-kindness and His wonderful works to the children of men!

Do you see the cause and effect there? The men waited until all their strength and wisdom ran out to call on the Lord and of course being the good daddy he is, he rescues them. Then they rejoiced and gave praise, Then the Lord guided them to the harbor they longed for. I believe the Lord would still have guided them to the harbor had they not thanked him, but I’m not sure that their eyes would’ve been open to it. They might still be complaining about something or other. But with their thankful heart they were guided to the harbor their hearts cried out for. It’s beautiful really, how our praise and thanksgiving opens way to fresh and joyful perspective. I know from my own experience thankfulness and praise open way for joy. While focusing on what you think God hasn’t done yet only leads to frustration.

Moral of the story: you reap what you sow. What you do, how you think (or judge), & your attitude of praise can make way for not-so-fun lessons to learn or incredible joy & blessing!

Do you have any awesome testimonies about reaping & sowing? Share ’em in the comments below!

The Lord longs to be gracious to you.

And therefore the Lord [earnestly] waits [expecting, looking, and longing] to be gracious to you; and therefore He lifts Himself up, that He may have mercy on you and show loving-kindness to you. For the Lord is a God of justice. Blessed (happy, fortunate, to be envied) are all those who [earnestly] wait for Him, who expect and look and long for Him [for His victory, His favor, His love, His peace, His joy, and His matchless, unbroken companionship]!

Isaiah 30:18 (AMP)

Beauty

Wow. Haven’t updated in a hot minute. Ooops.

Well not being in a foreign country kind of makes filling your blog up with crazy stories a little hard. I can’t find glaciers and African street children here in the sweet Tennessee. But what I can still find? God’s beauty. It is all around, even in my hometown. I don’t want to have to be in another country to be able to appreciate beauty, it’s just out my front door!  The warm spring (feels a lot like summer) days are wonderful with the sunlight bouncing off the rolling hills.

Aside from appreciating beauty God has been up to quite a lot in this heart of mine. In this month since I’ve been home (I can’t believe it’s already been a month!) Papa’s been taking me through some self-reflection and showing me areas that I have yet to let him in & areas he has more healing for. It’s a painful, wonderful, deepening process that really never ends. We may go through seasons where the deepening is everyday, but we’re always going to grow and Gods always going to have more in store for you! Amen!

Hope to write more soon.

Love—

I follow Him.

Thanks to Nicholaus Ross for sharing this song during worship a few days ago….it really speaks my heart.

Shame on you, shame on me
Lord he took all our shame and pain, and set men free
And I’ve got that fire on the mountain
Fire in my soul
It’s been a long time coming, long time
And I’m ready to go
I’m stepping out the door
Doing what feels right
Following my Lord, through the darkest night
And when the path gets narrow
I’ll follow him
And when the world comes down, around
I’ll be with him
He said, sing it on the mountain
Or in the valley low
He’s my God, and he never let me go
He said, sing it on the mountain
Or in valley low
Every mans going to see, and everyone will know
That peace runs deep in him
I said peace runs deep in him
Peace runs deep in him.

Train Song by Josh Garrels



As we hope in You…

Since I last wrote we traveled to a small town called Sombo–just 30Kil outside Garissa, Kenya in the Northeast. There is a small village way out in the desert bush that is committed to the Lords work among the surrounding villages that are mostly Muslim. By the grace of God they, knowing that the Sombo mission is a christian organization, have accepted them into the area. The Sombo mission provides free schooling to the children in the surrounding villages as well as a medical center. Also in the surrounding desert are 2 unreached people groups! Originally we were going to be living at Sombo while doing outreach to the Somalian refugee camps that were close, but we felt the Lord calling us to a time of prayer and intercession. So instead we didn’t do much but sweat and pray. We did a 24/3 and God gave so many encouraging words to the mission through us. It was challenging to not be physically doing anything but it was such a time of growth in patience and waiting upon the Lord.        The children at the school in Sombo.

The Pastor at Sombo was David Minor, a wonderful man full of the joy of the Lord. He referred to me as his daughter-in-law and wanted me to marry his son. “Freesha, my daughter,” he would say with a big smile. His joy rubbed off on all of us—and his family showed us such an abundance of hospitality! At night the boys and the girls took turns sleeping on a trailer that was out in the compound–falling asleep under the starry African night is something I hope you get to experience one day.

After our short stay there we traveled to the Northwestern part of Kenya where we are now, Kapenguria. We’re nearing the end of our journey, only 3 more weeks in Africa and one more in Iceland–its making my heart desire to squeeze as much life out of these last few precious moments. Here in Kapenguria there is a bible school run by Icelandic missionaries that we are working with. The grounds are beautiful, though you can tell its run by westerners because of the western toilets, showers and kitchen its such an incredible place of rest; cobblestone walkways, beautiful gardens, and real beds! We will be here until we have our debrief week–we will be doing outreach to the surrounding unreached tribes in the area, as well as working with the street boys in this area.

After the long day of traveling on Friday we received some horrible news that I am still struggling to understand. Laura & Ebel, who we worked with in the beginning of our trip, we received a phone-call informing us that three armed robbers broke into their home on the YWAM Athi River base. When Ebel tried to get them out of the house they shot and killed him in front of their two precious children (around the ages of 2 and 4).

I was initially in shock–I wanted to shut down, but I knew I needed to pray fervently for Laura and the children. Before we traveled here to the Northwest we made a pit-stop back in Nairobi to celebrate Esther’s birthday and as we were leaving I felt the urge to ask Esther if I could borrow her copy of “Happy Intercessor” by Beni Johnson. It was literally as we were walking out the door and the taxi was honking. She handed it to me and I ran to the car. So when I felt the need to pray—I had no idea HOW. How do you pray into a situation such as this? The Lord led me to a few pages in the book that helped me to pray WITH Him and into His character. I came to a core peace, like what Steve Berger talks about in Have Heart—core peace doesn’t mean you don’t grieve, but it shuts out the lies and confusion that so often follow tragedies. I’m still consciously having to deny the lies of the enemy against God’s character because I don’t understand–but I also know that I’m not going to. All I know is that this act was the definition, literally, of the enemy. “A thief comes only to steal (robbers), kill (Ebel), and destroy (Levi, Ezra and Laura)–but I have come that they might have life and have it to the full.” (John 10:10) I know that this was NOT Papa’s will and I know that He has a brilliant plan of redemption that will shine His glory.

We had a little memorial service for Ebel here just with our team, reminiscing on the short time we were able to spend with Ebel. His sarcastic, dry humor and depth of wisdom is what stood out to us most. You can tell by the photo below, taken when we were helping to build on his orphanage community dream:

The guys working in the water tank at Ebel & Laura's orphanage.

The guys working in the water tank at Ebel & Laura’s orphanage.

Ebel and Laura’s hearts beat for the Lord and they dreamt with Him—I am so privileged to have gotten to be a part of the dream that the spirit birthed in them to start an orphanage community here in Kenya. I know in my heart that this dream will live on and shine even more of God’s glory.

I remember sitting in the little classroom at Athi River as Ebel shared him & Laura’s love story and dream for Kenya–just eating it up. The Lord used them to continue speaking to me about LIFE–what he came to bring–throughout this entire outreach he’s been deepening my understanding of what it really means. I’ve been learning to dream WITH him and their story was an incredible encouragement on this journey of deepening.

I hope that as you read this, it strikes your heart to pray for Laura and the children with us as we cry mercy. This song is what I keep praying:

In the still passion Oh God
Open Eyes, Mend hearts
Let the harvest fall like rain
As we cry Mercy. as we cry mercy
Oh, Jesus, You must come
Your presence, we must have
Your power, it must fall
As we hope in you
Our only hope
Mercy, mercy
Lord, show us mercy
Mercy, Mercy
Lord, show us mercy.
 

I Actually Know Nothing At All.

It all started last week when the wonderful Eleanor Rich challenged me to open my eyes to some baggage that Lord wanted to start healing. It was as if I only wanted to peek, to put my hand over my eyes and peek through the cracks. God was challenging me, once again,  fully, completely, and totally rely on Him; and honestly it didn’t feel so great.

Michelle and I being explorers :)

This revelation, although rough to face, revealed the roots of independence, fear of intimacy, poverty mindset… and as God takes me through this, it will bring more and more freedom!

The weekend came and went, always faster than I feel it should and I found myself wishing there were so many more hours to sleep come Monday morning at 7:15AM. I was excited to see I had a wonderful email from home, oh I miss home, I really do. But this email slightly blindsided me when I was challenged to face another situation I had been trying to shrug off, hoping it would deal with itself. (Haha) This on top of last weeks challenge was pretty heavy.

9 This third I will put into the fire;
I will refine them like silver
and test them like gold.
They will call on my name
and I will answer them;
I will say, ‘They are my people,’
and they will say, ‘The LORD is our God.’

-Zechariah 13:9

Then come Tuesday night we had our second Kenya team meeting. During this meeting we found out what our various jobs were going to be; they range from being in charge of the food to worship to photography etc. My stomach dropped when I found out that I was going to be in charge of finances. Finances?! I will be keeping up with the budget and the flow of money. I sat there pretty much pouting the rest of the meeting. Acting like a 5-year-old. I was so angry. Of all the jobs…finances?! God has a sick and twisted sense of humor. You see, I love administrative work. I really do. What I do not love is money.

Come Wednesday I thought I was just going to lose it. Which is what I hate, loosing it. I have a tendency to want to be in control, and keep poised. There’s nothing I can’t face, just a few deep breaths and keep moving forward. This week, my deep breaths weren’t working and I found myself loosing control (in a good way, I’m sure). After talking it out with a few lovelies I realized that I actually know nothing, which makes it rather hard to be in a constant state of being in control of everything. You see we are all under construction, a house not yet fully built. This, if I’m being honest, has always looked like a weakness to me. Because think about a house under construction, if a tornado comes towards the house it will collapse. The difference here is if we are trusting in the Lord, he has us, and the tornado, although might shake us up, will not destroy us. And we are always going to be under construction this side of heaven, so I might as well get over it. I’ve constantly been consumed each week with something new that I’ve decided I want to be healed from…and I want to be healed and move on, I haven’t been accepting that it’s all a process with the Father and its all in his timing.

Ingunn :) Love you..

Once Alyn Jones drew a diagram at emanate; it had 2 circles and the first, the smallest, was the stuff in life we have direct control over (i.e. what we eat, what we wear, etc). Another circle was drawn around the “direct control” circle this is the amount of things we have indirect control over (i.e. how we react in conversations) and then the rest of the diagram was white space which represented everything we had absolutely no control over. He pointed out –most people spend all their time in the white space area, worrying about what they have absolutely no control over.  I’m still chewing on this one.

34“Give your entire attention to what God is doing right now, and don’t get worked up about what may or may not happen tomorrow. God will help you deal with whatever hard things come up when the time comes.” -Matt 6:34 (The Message)

I felt so much lighter and free just by accepting these things. And it was like a celebration when I went on a date (haha) with my beautiful friend, Ingunn. We went to her sisters Gospel Christmas concert (yes, they sing Gospel in Iceland) and it was so wonderful!

Icelandic Gospel Choir

Oh so amazing (videos to come). We ended the night on the roof of the guesthouse looking at the stars and talking about the exciting year to come!

The rest of the week came a bit more at ease, I’m still not the happiest camper about dealing with finances for outreach, but it’ll be ok, who knows maybe I have some hidden desire to be an accountant that I never knew about. The rest of the week and this weekend have been filled with those sweet fun moments that you couldn’t plan if you wanted to– with the amazing DTS team I am privileged to know.

Cheers to continual acceptance that God is actually in control, sweet moments with friends, and Christmas.

Love,

Felicia, in repair.