Courage in the wake of fear

Later as he was sitting on Mount Olives, his disciples approached and asked him, “Tell us, when are these things going to happen? What will be the sign of your coming, that the time’s up?”

4-8 Jesus said, “Watch out for doomsday deceivers. Many leaders are going to show up with forged identities, claiming, ‘I am Christ, the Messiah.’ They will deceive a lot of people. When reports come in of wars and rumored wars, keep your head and don’t panic. This is routine history; this is no sign of the end. Nation will fight nation and ruler fight ruler, over and over. Famines and earthquakes will occur in various places. This is nothing compared to what is coming.

9-10 “They are going to throw you to the wolves and kill you, everyone hating you because you carry my name. And then, going from bad to worse, it will be dog-eat-dog, everyone at each other’s throat, everyone hating each other.

11-12 “In the confusion, lying preachers will come forward and deceive a lot of people. For many others, the overwhelming spread of evil will do them in—nothing left of their love but a mound of ashes.

13-14 “Staying with it—that’s what God requires. Stay with it to the end. You won’t be sorry, and you’ll be saved. All during this time, the good news—the Message of the kingdom—will be preached all over the world, a witness staked out in every country. And then the end will come.”

Matthew 24:3-14, The Message

The world is asking a lot of questions these past few weeks, a lot of prayers are going up. Prayers for Paris, and family members, attacks across the globe that have proceeded Paris. Questions too- lots of questions about religion and violence, and fear. What’s happening in this world and is anyone safe? Why- why the surge in attack and hate, why does everything seem to be crumbling.. disintegrating. Why?

I think we are coming to the realization that something has quickened here on Earth in the past years. The frequencies of sickness, natural disasters, violence, and murder, theft, terrorism, and religious war, attacks on innocent people in college, in malls, in soccer stadiums and concert halls.

“Somebody give me an answer!” you might say. Well, along time ago man chose sin and darkness. Man, by nature, does not have a heart to glorify God, but craves to be like God himself. In our free will we have chosen to sin, and God in His graciousness has not created a world of pre-programmed robots. Love is a choice. God has created mankind to chose to walk in light or walk in darkness. Man perverted perfection by chosing sin in the Garden of Eden, and now we are living in the repercussions. Now, the nations “are darkened in their understanding, alienated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in him. due to their hardness of heart.” (Eph. 4:18).

The Earth is groaning with birth pains as we ebb and flow in the direction of an end. We are living in the last days and in the repercussions of disbelief, of rejection of God, of losing every sense of right and wrong or black and white but creating  a sloshy shade of grey where ultimate truth is nullified and heaven and hell are just apart of children’s stories. “The infinite horrors of hell are intended by God to be a vivid demonstration of the infinite value of the glory of God.” John Piper.

If you refuse to believe ISIS and other terrorist organizations don’t have hate being fueled by devout belief and the insatiable desire for a very spiritual war, you are deceived. In order to begin to understand on a deeper level what is happening- you must come to terms with the fact that it is based on deeply routed spiritual belief. If you believe that all the infidels against Islam must in fact die- you will act on it. If you believe that Jesus Christ, the Son of God is in fact the only way, and to be Christian is to be saved- you will act on it. All you who stand on the fence- your fence will soon be knocked down and you will come back to the realities on Earth where real people are dying for their beliefs, and what you belief effects your behavior. So what do you believe?

For many people God, He is very much a reality, and still in control, and still our past, present and future. The God of Israel, the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob who’s desire is to fill the Earth with the knowledge of His glory (Hab. 2:14). The first and the last, the Alpha and Omega, the Great I am. The one who knows the end from the beginning and is from everlasting to everlasting. All-knowing, All-powerful, who spoke by the holy spirit in Isaiah 40:22 that ‘He sits enthroned above the circle of the earth’. He let Isaiah know the Earth was round awhile back before that became a big deal… because He made it.

The Lord desires all men to be saved and come to the knowledge of the truth. (1 Tim. 2:4). Jesus says he is the way, the truth, and the life (John 14:6). He is drawing all men unto himself (John 12:32). He said he would be coming back, and that our world is in fact moving to an end point, and end point where Jesus comes and takes the believers in the blink of an eye, and all those who rejected Him would be left behind. He desires that we be united with Him in paradise one day, and that comes in faith and belief that His son Jesus was sent to be murdered by His own people, and tortured and humiliated that all of mankind might have the opportunity to look to Him and be saved, the lamb of God sacrificed for our sin. Sacrificed for you and me, God came down in flesh, healed, loved, discipled, served, and died for me. For you. Then rose on the 3rd  day from the tomb, resurrected.

I read on DesiringGod.com,

“Marc Coupris, a survivor of Le Bataclan (the theatre), said, “It was carnage. . . . They shot from the balcony. I saw my final hour unfurl before me, I thought this was the end. I thought I am finished, I am finished.” But you were not finished, Marc. We are thankful. Would that all could say the same. For many, life was over. They were finished.

To all of France, the hands of Jesus are extended. The risen Savior stretches out his bloody hands and says, “Come to me, and I will give you rest” (Matthew 11:28). “Let the one who is thirsty come; let the one who desires take the water of life without price” (Revelation 22:17).

Vengeance will come. It need not come from private individuals. “Leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, ‘Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord’” (Romans 12:19). There is a time for everything under heaven. Now is a time for France — and all of us — to hear the words of Jesus, “Do you think that they were worse offenders than all the others who lived in Jerusalem [or Paris]? No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish” (Luke 13:4–5).

And if we do? Sins forgiven. God reconciled. Hell shut. Heaven opened. Spirit given. Love abounding. ”

France is hurting, However this is only the beginning. But the good news is that knowing Christ and him crucified, we have Him to hope for, to hope in. A God who loves justice and mercy, who will pour out his wrath one day on our behalf. “Therefore, we will magnify the mercy of God by praying for our enemies to be saved and reconciled to God. At the personal level we will be willing to suffer for their everlasting good, and we will give them food and drink. We will put away malicious hatred and private vengeance. But at the public level we will also magnify the justice of God by praying and working for justice to be done on the earth, if necessary through wise and measured force from God-ordained authority.” -John Piper. We are not those who take up the sword here on Earth, because we can trust that God Almighty is in fact in control of vengeance, and quite frankly that’s a little more scary. We can trust Him who loves justice and mercy, especially when searching for answers at such a time as this.

Friends, hope in God. Today is the day.

This is how much God loved the world: He gave his Son, his one and only Son. And this is why: so that no one need be destroyed; by believing in him, anyone can have a whole and lasting life. God didn’t go to all the trouble of sending his Son merely to point an accusing finger, telling the world how bad it was. He came to help, to put the world right again. Anyone who trusts in him is acquitted; anyone who refuses to trust him has long since been under the death sentence without knowing it. And why? Because of that person’s failure to believe in the one-of-a-kind Son of God when introduced to him.

John 3:16, The Message

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On the Mountain Top

” “Thus says the Lord who made it, the Lord who formed it to establish it (the Lord is His name)

‘Call to me, and I will answer you, and show you  great and mighty things, which you do not know.’ “

Jeremiah 33:2-3

 

Literally, on the mountain top in southern California, I have been here 1.5 weeks already, and it feels like it has already been much longer. Maybe it’s the familiarity this place has to  Oregon right now, the homey-ness of where i get to stay, or the people I get to serve alongside with (who happen to be great and wonderful friends who I’ve already lived with for many many seasons in Florida). Perhaps it’s because I’m here with Mark, serving the discipleship school students, staff, and serving alongside one another in the SAME place, same time-zone, same continent.

I was able to work this summer in Oregon since returning from Ethiopia end of May until end of September at a local book company based in Salem called Bookbyte. It was so from the Lord, as I was able to work and save for 2 and a half months for Mark and I’s well anticipated WEDDING.

It’s true, I never thought I would see the day! I will be getting married in January in Oregon to a best friend, co-laborer in Christ, and awesome man of God. We found each other in Austria, after both arriving to Europe from our newfound homes in Africa. He came from Liberia, and I, from Ethiopia. It was amazing what God did to bring us together, and how through 10 months of being separated and relying on texts, skype, and phone calls- we will be able to be together.

Mark and I are both volunteering at this time at our mountain-based camp several hours outside of Los Angeles for Patmos: Reality Discipleship School based out of Calvary Chapel. This it the same school I left Oregon for many years ago to fly solo to Brazil, the same Pastor that sent me to live and serve in Haiti, Hungary, the Bahamas, and Austria. We’re transplanted trans-continentally to California, and are now operating out of Calvary Chapel South Bay here in SO CAL.

When I arrived I had a note  on my pillow with the verse above, ‘Call to me, and I will answer you, and show you  great and mighty things, which you do not know.’ It was a note of welcome and it made me feel like it- and I feel like this verse has, to my surprise, really captured the spirit of what I am experiencing here with the Lord thus far. I feel a sense of calm and a strengthening of His spirit in me, I feel that the Lord and I are in a deeper relationship right now and I’m watching his Word wash over these students here, setting them free before my eyes from the yoke of bondage. I’m seeing His spirit move in transformation in me, in Mark, in those I love around us. It’s really an incredible thing to witness the power of God displayed in a changed life.

Moving forward in preparation for the season to come- Mark and I want to serve the Lord as missionaries, we want to work in ministry, we want this to be our lives. We don’t know what that may look like, but we are trying to sow those seeds of prayer and thanksgiving, of sacrificial service, of patience and waiting trusting and hoping we will be ready when He does say “Go!”- being prepared for whatever! Is that not exhilarating, exciting, and nerve-racking all at the same time?!! Life with God is an adventure.

God has already done great and mighty things, I look forward in the confident expectation the mercy and grace the Lord has granted Mark and I at this time, is just the beginning.

katie

 

re-starting well

“Find your dwelling place in Him. Find your happiness in Him. Find your comfort in Him. When transition comes and things change, you won’t feel dismayed or discouraged. Your spirit won’t be broken and crushed from grief. You’ll move forward with confidence and great expectations because the Lord is with you wherever you go and in Him there is fullness of joy.”

-Kimberlynn Boyce

Co-founder, Taking Route

I’ve returned home many many times, from different parts of the US, different parts of the globe, from many different jobs, tasks, and roles- only to go back again. Since graduating college, these 4 years have clocked several global trips, and now includes a personal westward-expansion as I just drove the Oregon trail in a move from Chicago to Oregon.

I was always “passing through” when I arrived at my parent’s house, with the exception of extended months in Oregon to get two difficult eye surgeries done. Even in that time, I was actively waiting and praying to see where God was leading, to Hungary? Europe? No.. Africa, and I began preparations.

Now, my return to Oregon has no return flight.  I don’t have a date I am anticipating to fly out to the uncharted and unknown. No, this time I am re-entering life in America, small-town, north-west Oregon, America.

It’s a time of transition to say the least, but more than just physical change, but it’s really a transition of my mentality.

Two years ago when I moved to Ethiopia, we were praying, making plans, brainstorming a permanent move to the ministry. I was totally enthralled. I was also accepted to the Peace Corps, my placement most likely in rural Ethiopia. We thought this could even be a way to stay involved in the orphanage by really learning the language, and having the security of a 2-year contract/job that could lead to me being all the more useful in ministry at EGCH during and after that time. We thought about visa applications, I interviewed for a job as a high-school English teacher at a Catholic School, I was offered the job. I declined 3 days later.

When I moved from Oregon, I thought it was going to be the last one.

Then, whilst in the thick of it in Ethiopia, I felt God moving in my heart to move to Europe. All this was confusing. I went to Austria. Our visas were kindly denied. 3 months to the day, I left. I returned to Ethiopia. I’m back in America, now.

For good. For now.

So I am transitioning. I’m reentering. I’m trying to wrap my mind around this about-face that I have experienced as every effort to stay permanently overseas has lead to me back in Salem, Or.

However I recognize God’s divine leading, and I know that God is directing me in His best, it’s been difficult, to change that mind set of “I’m finally gone!” to “How the heck did I end up back here again?”

Luckily I have a very patient and Godly man to keep me on my spiritual toes, offering encouragement and great leadership- but my soul needed a month to catch-up.

Danielle Wheeler, founder of the website Velvet Ashes says this in the beginning of her post on transition in May

Here are some descriptions of a woman in the “transition phase” of giving birth. Ironically, I find it to be a pretty apt description of myself when I’m in the middle of a big life transition like… I don’t know, moving across the world.

“Emotionally, she can become restless, irritable, discouraged, and confused. She may find that she focuses inward… She may have a hard time communicating her wishes. This is the point when she usually needs the most support.” —Birthsource.com

“This is when things start getting intense… ‘I can’t do it anymore’ is a classic sign of transition.” –TheBump.com

My mind was dragging, in this fog of coming back and feeling like I was missing out on former “Kisses for Katie (Morris)” dreams of adopting my own personal soccer team as a minister-ess in Africa, to being squashed in spare bedroom in my parents’ house, job-less and car-less, but with here in Oregon with a guy that has changed everything.

So, as a result… in seeking the Lord and encouragement I have been reading all the posts from Velvetashes.com, and if you are unfamiliar with that blog it’s a website to encourage women overseas. It’s been spot on in the last month or two covering topics related to re-entry, leaving, coming home, saying goodbyes, soul-care, and mental fitness.. Each week is a compilation of many women’s personal stories amongst other things, and I have been greatly encouraged by their sweet words of wisdom!

Also, at the “month” mark from returning from Ethiopia, this week has been looking up. I don’t know quite why, maybe it’s that I recognized I’m not 100% okay, and Mark said it’s okay that I’m not okay, or the morning devos together, or the schedule of verses we are memorizing all week on placing God as the forefront in the focus in our minds… or extended time alone in His word or prayer.. maybe it’s that 🙂 But, I read this verse in my devotions Monday morning:

“Sow for yourselves righteousness, reap in mercy.

Break up your fallow ground, for it is time to seek the Lord,

Till He comes and rains righteousness on you.”

Hosea 10:12

God’s like.. Katie, you need to get over you and start seeking Me. Fervently. Desperately. Despite how you feel, which is frustration at where you find yourself.

Danielle Wheeler continues on her blog post:

We’re excited about what’s ahead… on the other side of transition. The transition process itself feels much like torture. The packing and clearing out of our home, the goodbyes, the attempt at leaving well, the process of lining up life on the other side… It’s a lot.

My journal entry for this morning just may have said something like, “God, I don’t know how we are going to make it through these next weeks.”

Here’s what I’m telling myself through the transition phase. These are my “labor mantras” that I am repeating to myself, that I need others to repeat to me. Perhaps you need them for yourself for whatever transition you are facing, whether that’s moving overseas, moving back, or experiencing other transitions.

  1. Breathe and push forward. You will make it through this. Looking towards a big transition, even a good, exciting transition, I always think, “I can’t do this.” In the thick middle of a transition I think, “I cannot do this.” And then one day, I look around, surprised almost, and think, “Huh, I guess I did it.” You will get through this. Just do the next thing.
  1. Ask for help. Remember that part about needing the most support during transition? You can only push so much. Get the help you need.
  1. See how much you feel your need for God right now? You always need him desperately, but you don’t always feel that, do you? When you’re shifted out of your comfortable “I can handle this” life, that’s when you know your intense need for him. That’s a good thing.
  1. Transition = Transformation (even when it just feels like chaos). Through every single transition you’ve gone through, God has done a major work in your heart. He’s peeled back a layer of your soul and revealed a gem of truth about himself and about yourself. Those truths are your treasures, the pearls of transformation in your life. He has something for you in this transition. Look for the next pearl to add to your strand. It will be there.
  1. Your emotions are like concentrated lemonade. Transition heightens everything. Remember, a hard thing will taste extra sour right now because you’re in transition. Let that temper your reaction. And yes the sour is intense, but so is the sweet. Don’t miss the sweet joys, and don’t temper those. Live them fully, gulping them down.
  1. Stop and connect. Your connectedness to your loved ones and to God matters more than your to-do list. You know it does. You’ll make it on that plane.
  1. You can worry and fret about what’s around the corner or you can believe that he will be your enough. It’s really as simple as that. Brutiful, isn’t it? (Brutal + Beautiful).
  1. You will stumble and flop, and that’s okay. High intentions are just that, like a birth plan, you can have your ideals for how you will handle transition, but they are not the rulers of your soul. Your ability to meet those ideals is not the measure of your worth. His grace is sufficient…
  1. Transition, like birth, is the beginning of both joy and challenge. It won’t be all roses and rainbows on the other side of transition. So don’t set yourself up for that disappointment. But also cling hard to hope. God has his goodness waiting ahead of you.
  1. Take every fear and fret, every hope and dream, and turn it into a prayer. The mysterious gift of prayer is here for your strength and sustenance. And when your brain feels too foggy, that’s okay. He knows. Let his Spirit and the prayers of his people intercede for you.

If this was in true prioritized order, God’s word and prayer would not be 10 but like numero uno. God’s word and refreshment is from him. But I like where she’s going with this and I’m encouraged by it.

So Katie, why is your trasition so difficult? Because I’ve had to mentally change from going going going to staying.

Davita Freeman shares this,

Sometimes staying is one of the hardest things God will ask of us. We stand in the midst of an ever-rotating circle of people and circumstance. We don’t move, standing firm with God. Life becomes familiar, even change becomes familiar. Surely this means I have learned to stand firm, to be strong, to stay well when told to stay. So why does it still hurt so much?

After three years on the field, I returned to my home culture weary and feeling like a failure. It was time. I knew that. The transition was challenging and more than once, I wondered if I should just go back. It would be easier but I knew going overseas at that time would be running away and that is not what our Father wants for us. I stayed and I waited. Through a number of challenging years God taught me how to move forward again, the worth in staying. He brought healing, community and joy in the place He had me. I was, finally, content.

It’s easier going than it is to come back. The not-knowing how long I’m coming back for is difficult. The idea where I’m “back where I started” is difficult. The reality that I’m very in my mind and me focused right now, is difficult. But I share all these things because I’m excited to see God work through all of this, through me, and through this time to make me better. I have to be willing to go wherever God calls. For me, He could call me to Iraq and I’d be the on the first flight out. Calling me to stay in small-town Oregon… and I cringe and recoil at the thought.

It’s obvious to me (as I’m sure it is for you) where construction on my heart needs to happen, then.

Peaches in Paradise | Desiring God

Peaches in Paradise | Desiring God.

By John Piper

June 15, 2015

 

At 6:15 this morning, Elisabeth Elliot died. It is a blunt sentence for a blunt woman. This is near the top of why I felt such an affection and admiration for her.

Blunt — not ungracious, not impetuous, not snappy or gruff. But direct, unsentimental, no-nonsense, tell-it-like-it-is, no whining allowed. Just pull your britches on and go die for Jesus — like Mary Slessor and Gladys Aylward and Amy Carmichael and Gertrude Ras Egede and Eleanor Macomber and Lottie Moon and Roslind Goforth and Malla Moe, to name a few whom she admired.

Her first husband, Jim Elliot, was one of the five missionaries speared to death by the Huaorani Indians in Ecuador in 1956. Elisabeth immortalized that moment in mission history with three books, Through Gates of SplendorShadow of the Almighty, and The Savage My Kinsman, and established her voice for the cause of Christian missions and Christian womanhood and Christian purity in more than 20 other books, and 40 years of hard-hitting conference speaking.

Her Suffering

She was not just gutsy with her words. Their daughter was ten months old when Jim was killed. Elisabeth stayed on, working at first with the Quichua, but then, astonishingly, for two more years with the very tribe that had speared her husband.

In July 1997, I wrote this in my journal:

This morning, as I jogged and listened to a message by Elisabeth Elliot which she had given in Kansas City, I was deeply moved concerning my own inability to suffer magnanimously and without pouting. She was vintage Elliot and the message was the same as ever: Don’t get in touch with your feelings, submit radically to God, and do what is right no matter what. Put your love life on the altar and keep it there until God takes it off. Suffering is normal. Have you no scars, no wounds, with Jesus on the Calvary road?

Just like Jesus, and Jim Elliot, she called young people to come and die. Sacrifice and suffering were woven through her writing and speaking like a scarlet thread. She was not a romantic about missions. She disliked very much the sentimentalizing of discipleship.

We all know that missionaries don’t go, they “go forth,” they don’t walk, they “tread the burning sands,” they don’t die, they “lay down their lives.” But the work gets done even if it is sentimentalized! (The Gatekeeper)

The thread of suffering was not just woven through her words, but through her relationships. Not only did she lose her first husband to a violent death three years after they were married; she also lost her second husband Addison Leitch four years after her remarriage.

Now it’s time to reveal a little secret. For seventeen years, I have from time to time spoken of a certain woman on a panel with me about the topic of world missions. This woman had heard me speak on Christian Hedonism. So on the panel she said, “I don’t think you should say, ‘Pursue joy with all your might.’ I think you should say, ‘Pursue obedience with all your might.’” To this I responded, “But that’s like saying, ‘Don’t pursue peaches with all your might, pursue fruit.’”

Well, that was Elisabeth Elliot and the panel was at Caister (the EFIC summer gathering) on the east coast of England. She was allergic to anything that smacked of mushy, mawkish, sentimentalistic emotionalism. Amen, Elisabeth! O how I loved sparring with someone I could not have felt more in tune with.

Her Womanhood

And then there was her tough take on feminism and her magnificent vision of sexual complementarity. When Wayne Grudem and I looked around thirty years ago for articulate, strong, female complementarian voices to include in our bookRecovering Biblical Manhood and Womanhood, she was at the top of the list. But the list was not long.

Partly because of her voice, that list today would be so long we would not know where to stop. I love her for this influence. Her chapter in our book is called “The Essence of Femininity: A Personal Perspective.” The title is intentionally (and typically) provocative. She was already seeing with the eyes of a prophetess.

Christian higher education, trotting happily along in the train of feminist crusaders, is willing and eager to treat the subject of feminism, but gags on the word femininity. Maybe it regards the subject as trivial or unworthy of academic inquiry. Maybe the real reason is that its basic premise is feminism. Therefore it simply cannot cope with femininity. (395–396)

She spoke, on the one hand, “from the vantage point of the ‘peasants’ in the Stone-Age culture where I once lived” (395), and on the other hand from a sophisticated vision of how the universe is put together:

What I have to say is not validated by my having a graduate degree or a positon on the faculty or administration of an institution of higher learning. . . . Instead, it is what I see as the arrangement of the universe and the full harmony and tone of Scripture. This arrangement is a glorious hierarchical order of graduated splendor, beginning with the Trinity descending through seraphim, cherubim, archangels, angels, men, and all lesser creatures, a mighty universal dance, choreographed for the perfection and fulfillment of each participant. (394)

When we deal with masculinity and femininity we are dealing with the “live and awful shadows of realities utterly beyond our control and largely beyond our direct knowledge,” as Lewis puts it. (397)

A Christian woman’s true freedom [and, of course, she would also say a Christian man’s true freedom] lies on the other side of a very small gate — humble obedience — but that gate leads out into a largeness of life undreamed of by the liberators of the world, to a place where the God-given differentiation between the sexes is not obfuscated but celebrated, where our inequalities are seen as essential to the image of God, for it is in male and female, in male as male and female as female, not as two identical and interchangeable halves, that the image is manifested. (399)

Her Teeth

Elisabeth Elliot smiling

Finally, I loved her because she never got her teeth fixed. I would still love her if she had gotten a dental makeover to pull her two front teeth together. But she didn’t. Am I ending on a silly note? You judge.

She was captured by Christ. She was not her own. She was supremely mastered, not by any ordinary man, but by the King of the universe. He had told her,

Do not let your adorning be external — the braiding of hair and the putting on of gold jewelry, or the clothing you wear — but let your adorning be the hidden person of the heart with the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which in God’s sight is very precious . . . and do not fear anything that is frightening. (1 Peter 3:3–6)

Whether it was the spears of the Ecuadorian jungle or the standards of American glamor, she would not be cowed. “Do not fear anything that is frightening.” That is the mark of a daughter of Abraham. And in our culture one of the most frightening things women face is not having the right figure, the right hair, the right clothes — or the right teeth. Elisabeth Elliot was free from that bondage.

Finally, she wrote, “We are women, and my plea is Let me be a woman, holy through and through, asking for nothing but what God wants to give me, receiving with both hands and with all my heart whatever that is” (398).

That prayer was answered spectacularly this morning at 6:15. For her, from now on all fruit is peaches. I am eager to join her.

 

Stateside

transition-726x484Today I am flexing my spiritual muscles and dusting off my wordpress dashboard so to speak. First of all, it’s been a long time since I’ve been able to sit down and write. Partly due to unlucky outside forces, partly due to a tired brain and the lack of initiative to take this time.

My last month in Ethiopia was a hard technologic one. We had a power surge, and lights burst, outlets smoked, and all our chargers plugged into the wall were fried. That meant my computer and iphone chargers! In case you are wondering, there is no apple store and no access to Mac chargers in southern Ethiopia, we had to do without. So my communication dwindled down to a trickle. And luckily, by the grace of God, I somehow found an extra iphone charger in the outside pocket of my gigantic luggage piece in my room. So I had my phone, {praise God!}, but no computer.

Then, I journeyed home from Ethiopia via Dublin, Toronto, Vancouver, and Portland. Stayed a week in Salem. Drove up late one night for a red-eye to Chicago on Sunday before labor-day… only for it to be cancelled. Showed up the next day for the rescheduled red-eye, landed in Chicago. Stayed with Mark and his family. Went to a Cubs game at Wrigley. Spent a lot of time with family. Drove to Oregon, staying in Omaha, Nebraska, Casper, Wyoming  and Boise, Idaho. Made it to Oregon. Stayed a night or two, then went over to Bend to Sunriver.. now I’m back in Salem at home while my sweetie works construction like a manly man he is all day.

Ahhhh there it is. Deep breathes for you and for me. It has been a long month, if even that.. maybe more like 3 weeks since I arrived mid-May from Addis Ababa. It hasn’t been the smoothest transition, it seems now that I am putting on the years and lived through my 25th birthday.. that quarter of a century milestone has welcomed increased difficulty coping with jet-lag, long car rides, afternoon levels of alertness without Ethiopian coffee to get me through, and lingering post-departum sadness from my little babes, big babes, and best friends at Ebenezer Grace Children’s Home and in Hawassa. However it’s been a time where I have to trust in God’s plan as He often asks us- and me personally- to give him the ‘good’, to trade-in for His ‘great’. I must learn to surrender and submit the good for His best.

So here I am! At the end of the Oregon Trail at last, trying to increase my time in prayer and word, and work through the grief of transitioning into American life and leaving my family in my African home. It’s been tough. I think my silence in my outlet of writing can be evidence of that. But God’s light has been steadily penetrating my dingy places, and I have many reasons to thank God who’s morning light is right now streaming in through my window, but also into my soul. I’m trying to welcome in that warmth to thaw out some places that have become a bit stiff in me this time around returning from ministry overseas. I’m in definite need of God’s sustaining power these days to fight for His joy and peace. And I’m trying to do my part in the pursuit of God in this time.

So cheers from Oregon for this summer! It’s going to be a joyous time here with friends and family, with church and community, and the Lord in the midst of it all. I’ll be sure to write more about my closing time in Ethiopia soon )