Clay in the Hands of the Potter

 

photoofmarc

I’ve always been and probably always will be an early riser. The morning time is really treasured for me because I get to indulge in my addiction: coffee and also just rest in quiet and peace while enjoying journaling, praying, or reading the Word of God.

This morning, since thanksgiving just happened, I really awoke with such a desire to write, such a desire to just pour out my heart to God and have this spirit of thankfulness and really just look back and be like wow look at all God has done.

I have attached this picture with this post not because this post is all about my man and how much I love him, but because I just wanted to write about three things: 1) waiting and praying 2) idols 3) deliverance and thankfulness

Now looking at this picture you may wonder, well okay how are all three of these connected to this guy wearing a shirt and shorts that don’t necessarily match the best and a girl who just loves to wear non-normal outfits with Chacos. Well I’ll tell you!

Waiting and Praying. Like most girls I made a list of everything I wanted in a man. Mine consisted of a lot of real and true things that were truly important to me, and others such as I hope he really likes Spanish music but can also get down to some George Strait every now and then (country music). Weird combination, but it is often hard to find. One of my other things, was culture. I grew up in the whitest of white towns where fried chicken and the rebel flag waved tall and proud. I take no shame in this because I love where I grew up, it was such a beautiful place to live, the people were so nice, and open hearted. However, I just wasn’t one of those girls who wanted the Southern tide wearing grew up in the southern Baptist home type guy. I wanted some culture, some flavor, some spice. If you haven’t met him, you know culture runs in and through his blood and he wouldn’t change that for a thing,  and he also loves Spanish and country music. Be still my heart. If you are still in that time where you haven’t found that one that makes your heart go pitter patter then I would encourage you to make a list of your desires and just give them to God. God longs to give us the desires of our heart when they are committed to them (Psalm 37:4).

To be in the state of relationship I’m in now, God had to do a lot of working in my heart. I didn’t love him right away, in fact I didn’t even know I loved him till probably about 6 months ago. I was really good at loving other people, but didn’t think I was deserving of love. God had to put love in my heart, had to teach me things about love, but most of all had to break me. He had to push me to my limits, break my pride and self-righteousness and most of all, break my idols.

Idolatry is something we all struggle with. We create idols. Whether it’s our health, body composition, grades, success in life, the type of car we drive, our clothing, whatever it may be, for me it was a perfect Christian relationship. Now my boyfriend and I are both Christians and we love Jesus. However, are we perfect a big HECK NAH. We make mistakes all the time, mistakes as a couple, mistakes separately, are we always reading the word of God, encouraging each other spiritually the way we should, NO. For me, I let this idea become an idol rather than looking unto God. Looking unto the eyes of my creator, my Savior, and allowing him to fix me, walk with me, and change me. I relied so much on my own will and desire and how I thought the world should see our relationship, rather than how Jesus saw us, which is two broken people moving towards HIM and how HE is constantly fixing us. We aren’t fixing ourselves. That’s right, we aren’t self-made, we are Christ-made. Everything that we have up until this point, every imperfection overcome or still working on is all because of Jesus Christ and His sacrifice. I know it’s easy for us Christians to look up dating biblically on the internet, read the blogs, create our physical boundaries and think we will be set, make no mistakes, and read the Bible in a picnic setting with sparkling apple cider once a week. What this really turns into is, let’s meet to watch a sermon, we realize how much we need to work on and we end up repenting to each other for how we may have hurt the other person. Ultimately, we are asking Jesus to change us. If you have that picnic bible study once a week, you are a lucky gal or guy. However, I’m still moving towards the tranquil picnic. Don’t let perfection of a relationship become your idol, look towards Jesus to control your relationship. Shout out to my friend, who helped me realized this and has been challenging me with it on the reg.

Deliverance and Gratitude. With relationships can come a lot of messiness, but God is so gracious to deliver us from the messiness. Deliverance is beautiful, only from God and is such a treasure. He delivered both me and my man from a lot of darkness and hurt, and is moving us towards light every day. We are told darkness cannot overcome the light, and it is such a beautiful thing. My deliverance has moved me to gratitude, but this challenges me to think if there were no deliverance would I still be in an attitude of gratitude?

Eeh. That’s hard, partially yes because I know my God is good, but then my sinful side would say why hasn’t my God delivered me yet. Like David and many others in the Bible waiting is the most difficult and hard thing to do, God always comes through though. The Psalms are evident of that. I’ve been challenged to look unto the Lord instead of deliverance, look to the Blesser instead of the blessing. My God is good, so Good, and I am forever thankful to be a part of his plan even when I literally screw up and have to repent every day. God is challenging and growing all of us, His grace is sufficient, His faithfulness endures forever, and his forgiveness is unrelenting. He is not going to stop chasing after you or me and desires us to be patient in prayer (Romans 12:12), tear down our idols (Exodus 20:3), and be thankful even when deliverance hasn’t come yet or is slowly making it’s way (James 1:2-4). You are loved, treasured, and adored, don’t forget all that God has done for you so far.

I made a list about two weeks ago of 13 things God had done for me in the past and it gave me overwhelming peace knowing he would continue to prove ever faithful. Don’t lose hope in your battle, search for your significant other, or anything in between. God hasn’t left you. “Like clay in the hands of the potter, so are you in mine” (Jeremiah 18:6). He is holding us together, one by one, molding and shaping us. Allow Him to shape you, it’s better than when we bang ourselves up against the wall trying to make a perfect pot out of already broken and shattered pieces.

Love and Prayers,

Hannah

 

Heavy Branches

It’s Tuesday, and I don’t have class so you think that I would be enjoying my time here at this coffee shop. However, I am sitting here at this coffee shop trying to watch a documentary in Spanish about how many Cubans fled from the island in order to escape refuge in the United States. Sounds interesting right? It truly is, but when your heart and mind are in two different places you sort of feel like well bluh.

Ten days after I arrived back from Chile, I started my senior year in college. Fifteen credits, nine credits of Spanish, and six credits of classes in English. The languages alternate throughout my long days of Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, so by the weekend I am very exhausted. Coming back from Chile where I was pushed to the limits in all areas of my life, and now being back here in Gainesville where I am challenged constantly by school, life has been a little hectic lately. I have a duty to finish school, but my heart is with people. School has become more of a checklist item for me. I go to class, but my heart isn’t in class. I sit there thinking and looking on the faces of my classmates. If you have ever walked on a college campus, it’s almost like stepping into a room filled with broken people. You can see the words plastered on people’s foreheads, “lonely,” “shattered,” “broken,” “unloved,” and “searching.” There are so many of these words painted on people’s foreheads for us to see. But what do we as Christians do, we stay engaged with our campus ministry. We seek comfort and safety among the safe, among the people who might not ask us bend over backwards in order to show them the love of Christ because they already know it exists.

I heard this phrase the other day at church when our guest speaker was talking about fear. This man and his wife reach out to Muslims in a predominantly Muslim middle east, his church was bombed after 9/11 leaving members of his congregation dismantled on the ceiling with blood stains covering their tattered pews. I don’t know about you but the most discrimination I’ve experience as a Christian comes every now and then when I ask people and if they go to church and say, “I don’t like church.” Hmm I wonder why people don’t like church. If we as Christians are supposed to be the most loving and our God is so loving why don’t people like us? I really don’t know the answer…but I think it’s time for us to stop this. Stop the non-loving, stop the ridicule, and see people. Something I learned when I was in Chile was just how much Jesus looked at people. He didn’t just glance at them, He looked into their eyes and felt their pain. I myself am so guilty of this. It is so much easier for me to look past someone that is hurting rather to engage and fight alongside of them. Jesus didn’t abandon me in my brokenness and weakness. He picked me up crowned me with a jeweled crown and brought me to redemption. We are all in need of redemption. The missionary said this, and it really stuck out to me: “we as Christians should be spending more time with non-Christians rather than Christians.” Yes our Christian community is great, I live with four awesome girls who love Jesus, my boyfriend loves Jesus, I have Bible study with believers…but I can’t stay there. I can’t stay safe. We’ve taken that bad company corrupts good character verse (1 Corinthians 15:33) and we have isolated ourselves in bubbles to which we grow our tree of Christianity really tall. It produces leaves, it produces fruit, but we never allow the fruit to fall and be eaten by others. We are learning all this great knowledge of redemption, grace, and truth, but what are we doing with it. Chewing on it during our devotional time and leaving it at that?

Devotions are great, and I love my time with the Lord. I genuinely wish and challenge myself to have more. However, I don’t believe God has called us to keep our devotion and that fruit inside of us. He has called us to extend a hand, give the fruit to someone else and allow the juices to stream down the face of someone who says, “I have tasted and seen that the Lord is good.” Our branches our heavy with fruit, it’s time to let it fall. I just see this image of us as Christians with our branches heavy, we have fruit, and it’s people who are hungry are right below us looking for something to eat and that something to eat that is going to satisfy for eternity. People hungry for love, affection, grace, redemption, healing, and truth. We have that all harvested in our fruit, if we are allowing God to be our vine. We can bear much fruit. Therefore, let it fall. Tell people of the good news of the grace of God. And the great news is once that fruit is given away, it leaves room for more fruit to grow. Don’t let your fruit shrivel up just because you want people to see your successful spiritual growth. How much knowledge of the gospel you have acquired, give it away! Let others taste and see the Lord is good!

I am writing this because my heart has been heavy laden this semester as I see people walking on campus hurting. I think to myself I’m just like them broken and tattered, but the great news is Jesus is mending me and He is near to all the broken hearted, ALL.

I want my branches to bear much fruit, and my father vine to be my everlasting Father, Jesus Christ. I want him to be pruning, harvesting, and growing much within me. This is my prayer, my hearts cry, and what I pray us as believers are moving into. Let’s be trees rooted in the word of God, who are not only producing fruit, but allowing God to use our fruit to bless someone else. Step away from fear, walk forth, and make disciples, the call of every Christian. Love God and Love People.

Love and Prayers,

Hannah

Capturing Chile

 

What I Learned:

Sitting here in my Chilean bedroom one last morning, drinking the “wonderful” instant coffee of Chile (it really isn’t that bad after two months), I can’t help but reflect upon this summer with gratitude or agredecida in Spanish. Thanksgiving is just around the corner, so I might as well begin being thankful right now.

Grace and gratitude are really going hand in hand as I am about to head home. Gratitude for the grace is my anthem as I speak about what God taught me this summer. If I could sum it up in six words it would be: i am nothing, CHRIST IS EVERYTHING. Growing up in church for such a long time, I forgot who the person of Jesus was, I forgot how magnificent His love was for me, and how vast His grace is compared to how little I deserve that grace. I was okay at giving others grace and loving others, but I had a hard time believing that Jesus loved me. I was living an older brother mentality (in reference to the Prodigal Son story). I thought I had earned my salvation and needed to continue to earn it; however, this is not the case it is freely given without any demands from Jesus in return. I read this quote this summer in one of our readings for discipleship. It reads,

“If like the elder brother, you believe that God ought to bless you and help you because you have worked so hard to obey Him and be a good person, then Jesus may be your helper, your example, even your inspiration, BUT he is not your Savior. You are serving as your own Savior.” – The Prodigal God by Timothy Keller

Talk about the Lord smacking you in the face, little did I know I was in such need of a savior before coming to Chile. I thought I was doing pretty good on the path towards being a righteous person in heaven. Was I ever so wrong. During my time here in Chile, the biggest thing God taught me was that I am in so much desperate need of Christ to be changing me, redeeming me from my sin, and forming me into the disciple He has called me to be. I wasn’t humble, not that I am now but…God took me this summer and said, “Hannah I’m going to show you just how much you are in need of Grace, how undeserving of it you are, but I love you so much more than you can imagine, and because I love you I choose to give you grace, give you the desires of your heart, and bless you with life and love.” And this my friends is why yo soy agredecida (I am thankful).

What I did:

People that have been keeping up with me on social media are probably wondering why I don’t have too many “ministry” pictures posted. I am really sorry that I don’t have a visual representation of what we did here in Chile, but my teammates and I were talking a couple days ago about our purposes being here and the ministry we did. It is a little different than I think all of us expected, but in retrospect we all did exactly what God called us to do this summer. Jesus told me to feed His sheep this summer, or in my case the Chilean folk. Now when Jesus revealed that to me, I wasn’t really sure exactly how that would play out. I thought that meant hang with some kids at the school, do some construction work, maybe pray for some people on the street. Those are what came to mind when he told me that. Yes we did do all of those things…but our ministry here goes much further than that.

The “music of the gospel” (as our team leader likes to say) or the story of grace, redemption, and love for all those who believe is quite new in Chile. Chile has been plagued by religiosity, people inside the church don’t know how to have community, people outside the church aren’t welcome inside the church unless you have your life together, and many other typical Pharisee characteristics. This is why my team leader and his wife are here, and as you can see there is a lot of work to be done. Their goal is to create a community of believers in the church who are going out and showing the compelling of Christ to Chile in order so they may make disciples. The people here in Chile don’t understand that Jesus loves them and accepts them exactly the way they are. They don’t see grace when they gaze upon the cross. In a Catholic nation, many see Jesus still upon that cross agonizing in pain. However, the truth is He is no longer on that cross, He is RISEN, we are REDEEMED, and there is FREEDOM from the sin that should have held us down. None can say it better than John 3:16, “For God so loved the world that He gave his one and only son so that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life.” I used this verse too many times without understanding it’s true meaning, but Wow what love is this?

Saying all of that, my team and I tried to stomp religiosity out of our little towns as much as we could. We met with people encouraged them in their walk with Christ, shared our sin and struggles, and asked that they join us as we pray for the nation of Chile and it’s movement towards creating the beautiful song of the gospel here. There was one church that my team and I were very involved with here, and I remember sitting at our small little worship night in the Pastor’s house listening to our friend play his guitar as we all sang in unison to our Creator and King. I couldn’t help but think about the first missionaries in Acts. They were given an incredible task of preaching the gospel after Jesus had departed from earth. They shared in life with each other, prayed for each other, ate with each other etc. As I looked around that room I saw those Acts missionaries. The Chileans we were with were the ones that were going to be here after we left (not that we are Jesus or anything), but our friends were going to be making disciples here in Chile and to me that was so beautiful.

I know the music of the gospel is going to continue to play here in Chile, and I can’t wait to hear stories about what God is doing: how Jesus is transforming people’s lives, humbling them like He did me, and telling them “I love you, you are in need of me, come to my well and drink.” Although I don’t have much proof to show exactly what I did here, I know in my heart I accomplished the goal the Lord set before me. He asked me to feed his sheep, and that is what I did. None say it better than Paul, “I planted the seed, Apollos watered it, but God has been making it grow.”-1 Corinthians 3:6. I prayed a lot for this country as well and asked the Lord to just come and infiltrate this place. I ask you do the same. Seeds were planted here, the oppression of darkness was stomped on, and my life was changed as I realized how much I am in need of Christ and how thankful I am for His GRACE and LOVE. Truthfully, it is all loss to compared to knowing Christ. What a wonderful God we serve. Ciao Chile, thanks for making me hungry for more.

Love and Prayers,

Hannah

Barbed Wire to Branch

I know what you may be thinking as you read this title, what the heck is this Chica  trying to say? Barbed wire to Branch…#what?

Well as you all know, I have been here in Chile since June 15th and it is now June 26th, so approximately 11 days. I would love to tell you that the first 11 days of my time here in Chile have been the grandest upon grandest of times. Usually people experience the mission trip high upon arrival, well since life has just seemed a little backwards for me lately I figured eh might as well experience the mission trip low first. Not that the low has been so extreme as to make me want to go home (okay maybe so for about 10 minutes), but the low has been well low.

Upon arrival to Chile, as you read in my last blog things were a little rough. In turn, I came to Chile with some scars and really frustrating things. I did not really understand why so much anxiety, attack, and everything in between was happening to me and I may never understand it. However, I do know that Romans 8:28 says, “and we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.” Later in that chapter v. 37 says, “in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us.” Taking these two verses into account, this is what has been pushing me through knowing that because my Savior shed blood on the cross that I am able to come out of tough times victorious. No weapon formed against us is able to prosper!

During my time here, the Lord has begun revealing a lot of where my struggle has come from recently. He has done this by means of other people, prayer, speaking to my heart, and a walk through the country roads where I took that picture of the barbed wire. As I came up on this barbed wire, God was saying to me “Hannah you are that barbed wire, but I am making you into a branch.” It sounds really weird, but I think we all are barbed wire in a way. For me, my barbed wire came from insecurities, desire to be loved but not understanding what love truly was, comparison, hurt, and of course pride. All of these added up to a lump sum of me, barbed wire Hannah, walking around with her life together, so spiritual, Christ-filled, you know the whole idea of what a godly-woman should be. However, the facade can only last so long before you are brought down low and truly realize okay God I have so far to come before I can even compare to how great and magnificent you are. The Church nowadays really encourages us to build our faith, be strong, you are so much more than this. Yes all those things are true, but those phrases have a lot to do with the idol of “me.” The Bible says, put your faith in me, your strength comes from me, and yes you are so much more than this, but you are so much more than this because I (Jesus) have made you so much more.

This Jesus, Jesus of Nazareth, the Savior of the World who died on the cross to save my sins, needs me to come to Him in need of savior not in want of one. I for so many years, wanted a savior, wanted someone to help me through life, wanted someone to be my guide, but when things were easier to do on my own I was like “hey I can do this.” This is not the case anymore, everything I have experienced up to this point I could handle on my own or with the encouragement of another person that buttered me up, put me back on the horse, and ready  to grab life by the reigns and take it on again. Nope, not this time, there was no getting back up on that horse by myself. In the case of Peter and walking on water, I needed Jesus to reach down and pick me up. He never let me drown because he doesn’t let his disciples drown, but I was in NEED of a Savior. That strong barbed wire that thought she didn’t need anything else to protect her, was brought low stripped of her pride, her insecurities, and started the process of becoming a branch.

As I have shared before, God told me that during my time here in Chile he would teach me a lot about love. Oh how true that already is, just really understanding the captivating and compelling love of Christ and how much He truly loves and delights in us. He is always with us and guiding us through life even we don’t think we are doing the right thing, or don’t think we deserve this love. He loves us so much, and that is what He is teaching me here so far in Chile. He loves me and wants the best for me, is always fighting for me, and is the only thing in this life that I can lean on. Jesus is enough and everything else in life is blessing. How thankful I am for those blessings, but even more thankful I am for the BLESSER!

Becoming a branch, well it is not always the easiest. Branches are smooth, barbed wire is rough. Therefore, sometimes God has to rub away our pride, expose our hurt, our struggles and our need for Him. Jesus said in John 15, “I am the vine, you are the branch, apart from me you can do nothing.” This is so true, I can do nothing apart from Christ. He gives me the ability to love, the ability to live, and the air to breath. Even though the rubbing away is painful, I am thankful that God is refining me and making me into a branch that bears much fruit. I want to bear much fruit and prove to be his disciple (v.8). From barbed wire to branch may be a process, but restoration and healing is always to be happened!

Love and Prayers,

Hannah

Philly to Chile

Tomorrow is the big day! I am leaving for Philly to Chile tomorrow, and I am very ready to get on that plane! These last couple days in preparation to leave have had their ups and downs. I’ve been battling a lot of spiritual warfare in preparation for this trip. However, I know my God is victorious and holds my life in His hands. I am His precious daughter, and He loves me very much. As I shared with you guys earlier, my journey to getting to Chile has been so blessed, god-designed, but also different than any other mission trip I’ve ever gone on. I usually am at this point just itching to get there, and even though in reality I am (I mean who wouldn’t want to travel to another country for two months, Serve God, speak Spanish, and love other people)! I am honestly super excited to get there! It’s just this journey has been different. It’s been long, exhausting, tiring, but also filled with God’s guidance. I was talking with my former youth pastor just a couple days ago and expressing to him just how honestly broken, tired, and weary I felt. He reminded me of trainers and their athletes. Sometimes the trainer helps the athlete up, other times the athlete has to keep pushing, keep running even though they feel like they can’t go any more. I think sometimes I feel like I have to have my life together in order to show people the great and compelling love of Christ. However, I really don’t think that has been the case with any great people in the Bible. Paul hated Christians, Moses felt ill-equipped, Joshua didn’t know if he could keep going. However, God told these people “be strong and courageous”, “my strength is made powerful in your weakness”, “tell them I am sent you.”
It is indeed the “I am” who has sent me because honestly if I didn’t have Jesus walking right along side of me, I would have given up the fight. I would of turned back and said you know what, I can’t do this? But there is truth in that, I can’t do this on my own. I need my heavenly father, pushing me to be stronger, walking right alongside me saying, “Hannah keep pushing through the mud, keep running, keep up the good fight and stay strong, discipline produces righteousness.” I would be lying to you if I told you that I have been sitting hear bags packed twiddling my thumbs waiting for tomorrow to come. I have been waiting for this trip for over four months and have literally seen God’s hand in everything. As much as my earthly self wants to believe, oh this is just coincidental. God is saying “no I literally have prepared every step of the way for you, just walk Hannah, just get on that plane.” Tomorrow I will indeed be getting on that plane, walking forth in hope and trust knowing that my God is going to do great things this summer. His strength will show in my weakness, and honestly I think God needed for me to understand that in order to be his servant this summer. I am a servant to a heavenly father, and His task for me right now is Chile. I am so thankful and blessed that He has made Chile my task.
I thought my summer was going to be all about “missions.” However, God told me “no your summer is about love…learning the power of my love, what my love means for others, for yourself, and everything in between.” The Bible is pretty clear, God is love. What are his two greatest commandments? “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength, and love your neighbor as yourself.” These are my commandments Lord, I am going to be obedient and follow through.
Just wanted to update you guys on sort of where my heart has been and what has been happening in my final days before leaving. If you could continue to be in prayer for my trip, my heart, and prayers against everything that Satan wants to destroy. My biggest prayers for this summer are just God continuing to teach me about his love, how to love, receive love, and be the love God has called me to be. In addition, a pure heart and pure mind, discernment in all circumstances, and most of all His will be done. Thank you for partnering with me on this journey. I will continue to write and let you all know when I get settled in Chile after those first few days!
Love and Prayers,
Hannah

Faithful Uncertainty

“Confronted with a host of opportunities and the sincere desire to serve God, [we] desperately want to know what God wants [us] to do” – The Missionary Call by David Sills

Insert “Hannah” in between those brackets and right there is probably the statement of my life, or really any other person’s life who is in one of those “in the mean time” phases. As college students especially, we are always confronted with the question “What is your next step?” “Where are you headed after graduation?” or if you are asked by a fellow Christian, “What do you really feel like the Lord has called you to do?” These are all great and valid questions for anyone who is preparing for what is next in God’s big plan for their life. However, as I am waking up early my last weekend in Gainesville before I embark on summer adventures,  I am trying to remember all that the Lord has taught me this year and how it relates to God’s will and plan for my life. The beloved Sophomore/Junior year of college was one for the books, every year of college is, but I think the thing the Lord really wanted to teach me this year was:

“For great is his love towards us, and the faithfulness of the Lord endures forever”

~Psalm 117:2

Great is an understatement to the amount of love the Lord has for us, I think INFINITELY great would be a better way to phrase it, but David was trying to be poise so I completely understand. “The faithfulness of the Lord endures forever.” Wow! What power comes from that, the faithfulness of God. When you are young, even though I am still young, but younger, it is hard to really understand the faithfulness of God because there isn’t as much life experience to reflect on and say, “wow God really proved faithful during that time.” However, having almost 20 years on this planet I have come to realize a few instances in my life where the Lord proved ever faithful. One being at a very young age when he miraculously healed me from some weird spot on my eye (to this day we still don’t know what it was), when he gave me the opportunity to go to Collegiate and although I wasn’t sure about it-turned out to be the greatest blessing of my life, when I really wasn’t sure about coming to UF but took a leap of faith and made that deposit (now I never want to leave), when a group of us steadfastly prayed for a little baby to be born, now little Eli is healthy and alive, or leading up to most recently when the Lord was faithful in providing the perfect, and I mean perfect place for me to serve Him this summer in Quillota, Chile.

Needless to say, the faithfulness of the Lord truly endures forever.  All of these big milestones of faith in my life encompassed a smidgen of uncertainty. In the case of going to Collegiate or coming to UF, I had my doubts about whether or not it would be a good fit for me, if that was really where the Lord wanted me to go, and if there was something better out there. For Chile, it really was taking a leap of faith and just watching the Lord work. I knew the Lord had called me somewhere, but I just didn’t know where. Having applied to numerous programs, I was just waiting for the Lord to say “Okay Hannah, this is where I want you to go…this is my will.” The Lord was like, “no, no my child, step out of the boat, trust and have faith in me, and everything will be okay.” So as many of you know I am going to Chile this summer!

My journey to Chile has been nothing but a testament to the faithfulness of God in so many ways. I could recount numerous stories as to how God proved faithful, starting with how he called me to feed sheep and we just talked about sheep the whole time at training, how he blessed me with a bounty of financial support, and gave me great missionaries to work under. Even just down to the little of things like being able to go to a gym there and eat healthy food. These seem like such little things, but our God, the God who loves and cares so deeply for us knows the intricate desires of our hearts and what is of importance to us. He knew I would probably go batty if I couldn’t workout for two months or had to eat fried food all the time due to my allergies. To me, this is just a testament of His great love and faithfulness towards us. He knows us, loves us, and longs to give us the desires of our heart.

Going back to the unknown and uncertainty, like I said before sometimes next steps require BIG FAITH. Peter had uncertainty before he stepped out of the boat, was walking on water, lost the faith, and plunged, but you know what the Lord picked him up and said “O you of little faith, why did you doubt?” I’m sure the Lord looks down on us sometimes in our doubt and uncertainty about His love and will for our life and just does one of those laughs that parents do when their child asks if they still love them after they spilt milk on the carpet: “oh my silly child, of course I still love you, why do you doubt that?”

My beginning quote talked about how we all have this sincere desire to do the will of God and to live out his plan for our lives. A lot of times we are just uncertain as to what that exact plan is. So what we do is we pray, we wait to hear an okay from the Lord. We pray “okay God show me the way, tell me what to do, show me your will, tell me your will.” The Missionary Call talks about this when missionaries are trying to decide if this missions thing is really for them, where they should go, etc. One thing we have to remember, is that we are not God. Therefore, we cannot know the will of God; He makes it known to us through our pursuit of Him. His ways are not our ways, and the goal of life is not to find out the will of God, but TO LIVE THE WILL OF GOD. Many times, myself included, we get caught up in seeking the will of God instead of God. He says seek ME and you will find, knock and the door shall be opened.  A wise friend once told me, we sometimes see the will of God as this tight rope that we have to tip toe across and if we step off we are screwed. Uhm…no, God’s plan for our life is an eight way high way that has many turns, dips, mountains to climb, valleys to trudge through.  it’s not a straight easy path. Therefore, sometimes we just have to take a leap of faith and watch the Lord work and bring His faithfulness to life.

God has definitely breathed that faithfulness into my life this year, and I am eternally grateful for all He has done and how He has blessed me. I am still in this sort of awkward next step phase. However, as I will be a senior in college this coming Monday after I take my last exam at 7:30 AM (yes 7:30 AM…),  The Lord keeps continuing to challenge me in taking leaps of faith, watching the Lord work in his faithfulness, and seeking GOD instead of God’s will.  My wonderful roommate shared this verse with me the other day, and I think it brings me so much hope for what the Lord has in store. Even though the future is uncertain and not all my plans are known to me, the Father who loves me, pursues me, and proves ever faithful is calling me to be bold and courageous. He tells me,

“Look among the nations, and see; wonder and be astounded.For I am doing work in your days that you would not believe if told”

~Habkkuk 1:5

I’m ready Lord, thank you for your faithfulness and blessing thus far, not my will but yours be done, I long to seek YOU. Praise the Lord, His love and faithfulness endures forever!

-Hannah

Feed the Chilean Alpacas

“Hannah Do You Love Me?…Feed My Sheep”

I really thought Jesus only asked this of Peter, but it turns out that this question was for me too…

If you had asked me at the beginning of Fall Semester (August 2015) what I would be doing this summer, I probably would of told that you that I would be working for Engage somewhere in Latin America. The verse saying the man may plan his ways but the Lord determines his steps (Proverbs 16:9) has never rung more true when it comes to my summer plans. I have been praying about this summer specifically for about two years. Having a big draw to missions and been on two trips before, I knew God wanted me to spend one of my college summers serving him somewhere in Latin America serving countries and people groups that I have a big passion for. One of the trips I had gone on to the Dominican Republic had an intern from our church, and Ashley was a really close friend of mine actually. Unfortunately, she is no longer with us but is serving the Lord up in heaven and rejoicing in His presence everyday. Long story short, she is how I knew about the program and literally had save the little bulletin forever knowing that was something I wanted to do when I got to college.

College comes, its expensive, life gets busy, and I make it through my first year of college. I knew God was calling me to go home that summer and work and be with the family because next summer would be the summer that I would venture off somewhere, speak some Spanish, and serve the Lord.

Coming back to Fall again, filling out applications, contacting people, and applying to not only Engage but other numerous organizations, I prayed Lord lead me to where you want me to serve: open doors, close doors, guide my heart, and just really lead me towards that perfect place for the summer.

Through some rejections, acceptances, and a lot of prayer I still really never felt at peace or really excited about where I thought I was going to go. Hungry for other options and opportunities I started searching the Internet to try to find another place to venture off to. My Google search for “summer missions internships” led me to an organization called Serge (formerly World Harvest Missions) and an internship in Chile. Looking through the website my heart was so excited, I would be living in a host home fully immersed in Spanish, serving my local community and church, children’s outreach, construction, discipleship training, 8 weeks in Chile, the whole shebang! I was really blown away, but scrolled down to the bottom of that page to find a deadline that read Jan. 31, but it was Feb. 5th . Thought to myself, well maybe I will just apply next year.

However, knowing everything that the summer after graduation and start of grad school will entail I began to think and pray you know maybe I should just email them to see if there is any possibility of late applications. That Monday night February 8th, I emailed the internship coordinator and asked if could still apply even though I was late. That next morning low and behold I got an email back saying to apply TODAY! As soon as my professor let us out, I headed straight to the library to fill out an application and submitted it that afternoon, got an email saying they wanted to phone interview later THAT AFTERNOON OR TOMORROW! A little shocked and overwhelmed with excitement, I said yes and had such a great interview that next day that was so spirit filled and God designed. Even though the interview went so great, they weren’t sure if they could find a host home and mentor for me in Chile since it was so late. However, God provides and that Thursday (three days after my first email) I was accepted!

Upon acceptance, there was so much to do: get a ticket to fly to Philly for training weekend, organize all the things, get everything sent in that needed to be sent in etc. However, with the grace of God and strength and energy that only comes from him I was able to get all that done!

Fast forward to this moment right now, when I am reflecting back on my weekend in Philadelphia and just how PERFECT, SOVERIEGN, and FAITHFUL our God truly is. The main focus of Serge is grace and really just meeting people where they are at and showing them the compelling love of Christ, which I am in firm belief, is the best way to evangelize and spread the love of Christ. In addition to this, we talked and reflected a lot about sheep this week and how we are called to care for the lost sheep and bring them to the ultimate shepherd, Jesus Christ. Talk about being hit in the face with the faithfulness of God! During my time of prayer and submission about my summer plans many months before, God asked me, “Hannah Do you love me? Feed my sheep!” For this weekend and it’s many focuses to be about that is a true testament to the faithfulness and guidance of God. He is ALWAYS THERE and ALWAYS WORKING even when we don’t see it.

I never thought that my prayers for the summer would lead me to Serge, Chile, or really to just a perfect program that has everything I feel like God has called me to this summer. Let this be an encouragement to the faithfulness of God when we submit and pursue. Through all my murky mess of life, God led me to a crystal clear picture of what He had in mind for me this summer. None of it was done on my own accord, but all through him and His sovereign will. Whatever you are praying about, keep praying, keep asking God to open and close doors, keep pursuing Him. I almost gave up three days before I contacted Serge I was just telling my mom “eh, I might just stay home and work this summer since I don’t feel any sort of passion.” However, I knew that God had told me this summer was for me to serve Him. Yes I am a little nervous and scared about being away, logistics, and everything that comes from being somewhere new. BUT I am even more excited to grow my Spanish skills, serve the Lord with my wonderful teammate, and embrace a whole new community! I am truly blown away by His faithfulness and how he molded everything together so wonderfully. From a fun and insightful weekend in Philly  with great people (as pictured above), right down to answering and fulfilling every single one of my “wish-list” items for summer 2016, God provided! I am forever grateful and couldn’t be more excited!

So I am thankful that Jesus told me to feed his sheep this summer even if that meant some Chilean alpacas! Get Ready South America, I’m coming for ya!!

“Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you saying, ‘this is the way; walk in it.’ –Isaiah 30:21