“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”
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”
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 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
Thoughts from the Raleigh Airport…
“Therefore since we are surrounded by such a great crowd of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and sins that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.” Hebrews 12:1
Athletes, Christians, people that crave community and companionship we can all relate to this verse and find comfort in it. It confirms the human desire for people to be in our lives and almost demands us to find a “great crowd of witnesses.” For those of us that have grown up in the church, like myself, this crowd of witnesses has never really been an issue to find. There were always people in my life that wanted to encourage me, others that wanted to judge, others who wanted to love me, etc. The crowd of witnesses was never something I sought after, it always seemed to find me.
However, what I really think this passage is about is surrounding yourself with that GREAT crowd of witnesses. We all want adoration and encouragement in some way or the other, and recently I have just been mind blown, literally I get headaches sometimes thinking about the goodness and faithfulness of God. He continually places people in my life that encourage me, love me, treasure me, pray for me, and help me grow each and every day. Whether it is my disciple who constantly reaches out to me and challenges me to run towards the race God has marked for me even when the world seems against me, or my mom who is encouraging me to embrace life and choose love above all, or even my closest friends praying for things near and dear to my heart. Or in the most simplest ways, friends texting me in the morning and saying, “hey good luck on your exam today.”
This. This is meeting people where they are at and loving them through life. We all have things that hinder us and sin that so easily entangles us, sometimes it’s all I can do to cry out to the Lord and say “save me I’m drowning in worries, fears, emotions, etc.” However, when I do cry out to the Lord He answers me with you are LOVED, and reminds me of Isaiah 40:9 (MSG) “’I’ve picked you. I haven’t dropped you’ Don’t panic. I’m with you.” What comforting words to hear in the midst of chaos or when we are struggling with sin or entangled in the mess of life.
Not only am I loved by a God who cares, but by a community who truly wants to see me move forward in my faith. That crowd of witnesses and constant encouragement is such a blessing. I don’t know what I do without my church or campus ministry community, roommates who are always there even when I annoy them with my clean freakiness, friends back home, family, coffee dates with people, random conversations on campus, etc. I am thankful for it all, and community is such a necessity for our growth as Christians or even for non-believers, we need people in our lives to cheer us on towards that goal to which God has called us to.
So let’s embrace our community, love our community, and serve our community. We are called to be of one accord with the Spirit and to surround ourselves with a community who is there to love, support, and challenge us to be in that one accord. So let’s find ourselves some friends, sip some coffee (or whatever suits your fancy) together, and enjoy unity in community!
Love and Prayers,
“When Fears are still, when strivings cease”… I cannot tell you how many times I have sung this phrase in church while singing “In Christ Alone” or even when I am jamming to Amanda Cook’s new album, Brave New World, and listening to the song “Heroes” when it says, “Let the heroes rest, let the striving cease.” But this idea of striving has really been on my mind lately, even so much that I have talked with many about my struggle with striving. Maybe even more than a struggle, but an addition.
American culture tells us to strive towards success, strive towards our goals, and strive to be the best person. The church tells us to strive to bring as many people to church with us each Sunday or strive towards making the name of the Kingdom of God known, etc.. Strive, strive, strive, it’s really a word that is used a lot in this day and age. For people who, like me and many others, take this as a challenge to perfect myself and strive to fix everything that is going wrong or not already perfect it can be exhausting. Striving to be the best student, nanny, employee, friend, disciple, daughter, etc. it can truly lead you to a point of pure exhaustion and one day things CRASH!
For me this moment was recently when I was going through a lot of just really tough external life circumstances. I realized the root of my problem was that I was seeking perfection in a world that was not meant to be perfect. I think we forget sometimes that we actually physically, spiritually, and emotionally cannot be perfect. After the fall of Adam and Eve, our earthly selves are not designed to be this way. If we were perfect, what good would the grace and love of God do? Perfection is a goal of many, but it is an unattainable goal.
Continuing to strive to be all these things is not what we are called to do. Instead of STRIVING TO BE, we should JUST BE. Multiple times in the Bible we are called upon as Christians to rest and just simply take in the presence of God, relish in his love, find joy in His grace, and be content in His plan and will for our lives:
- Matthew 11:28 “Come to me all who are weary and heavy laden, and I will give you rest.”
- Psalm 116:7 “Be at Rest, Oh my Soul the Lord has been Good to you”
- Mark 2:27 “Then he said to them, ‘The Sabbath was made for man, not man for Sabbath.'”
The list could really go on!
Are you tired and weak? STOP STRIVING! This is the pot calling the kettle black because I struggle with this to, but I feel like God is really challenging us strivers to step back and watch Him work: workout the things in lives, workout our struggles, workout our joy, workout our peace, our desires, etc.. Instead of STRIVING, it is time to SEEK. Seek the face of a God who has called us to embrace the joy, love, and peace that surpasses all understanding. It can be difficult to step back and let God work, but I promise He will make everything beautiful in it’s time. He is a God who wants to bless, love, and adore His children. He stills our fears, ceases our strivings, and ultimately becomes “Our comforter, our all in all” and will stay FIERCE through any drought and storm!
Love and Prayers,
Sitting here drinking my Yogi Ginger Tea reflecting on the day, many thoughts are running through my mind about today and the many different testaments of faith and God’s love for me that were clearly prevalent. (Sip) The really great thing about Yogi Tea is that they include little sayings on the tags. My tag today read “be proud of who you are.” This phrase is not something we hear too often in a world full of people always trying to better ourselves and raise the standards of society. Simply choosing to be present, still, and embrace the person we are is something we rarely do. However, this tea really got me thinking…who I am, what person am I proud of? Three words came to mind: claimed, called, and cared for.
Claimed, the word sounds sort of derogatory and imprisoning, but to me it means peace. Peace in the way I am claimed by a Savior who pursues me with a love that is everlasting, never fails or leaves me, and is in constant pursuit of me. I am claimed by a God who sent His only perfect Son to take away my sin, so that I may enjoy life and have it to the full. God chose me to be His daughter and forever rest and be proud of the woman I am in Him. He made me and gave me the desires of my heart, my passions, my quirks, my talents, etc. I am claimed by the one true God and that is truly enough to be proud of.
Because I am claimed by the King of Kings and Lord of Lords, I am also called. Called, calling, the call, and many other manifestations of this word are frequently used by people in college. I can’t tell you how many people I hear say, “what is my calling in life? What has God called me to do?” What a great question?! To be honest, I wish I knew the answer myself. However, earlier this year while reading the book The Missionary Call by M. David. Sills, the answer might have been revealed to me. My calling was not to figure out what God wanted me to do, rather it was simply my call to pursue Jesus with an undivided heart and to advance His kingdom in obedience. In the midst of my pursuit, He would lead me in the right direction. Yes He has given me desires and passions that may steer me towards my calling in life, but he is the ultimate author of my path. Proverbs 16:9 says it in no better way, “The heart of man plans its way, but the Lord establishes his steps” (ESV). Like Hansel and Gretel, Jesus leave me breadcrumbs to guide me on the path to you!
Cared for. This phrase sounds comforting. But the reality of this phrase is so much more, it is freeing, restful, and peaceful. As a person always trying to please those around me and trying to be the best I can be, it can seem like I am rarely still and allowing myself to be cared for. However, God extends his arm out to me and says come to me my child, and rest in my arms. I will protect you and bless you. Many times in my Christian walk I’ve been asked to describe God in one word, it changes throughout the seasons of life, but I think the one that is really constant is Rock. Jesus cares so much for us and only wants to see us living life in the bounty. He is always there for us and will always allow us to hold steadfast to Him. He is immovable, strong, and always there, like a Rock. He is my strength in times of weakness.
Today these three words (Claimed, Called, and Cared for) really were a testament to the faithfulness of God in my life. I felt Claimed in the way Jesus gave me the opportunity to wake up this morning and experience the beautiful sunshine, crisp winter air, and drink my morning Joe. I felt called in the manner that God allowed me to spend time talking with kids today while working at my Gainesville church and reminding me of my purpose. And as always, I felt cared for by a savior who reached out to me and gave me opportunities to hold fast to Him today and see Him work in so many ways.
Like my Yogi Tea said today, “be proud of who you are!” You were fearfully and wonderfully made by an amazing God, and I challenge you to take time to rest in His grace, freedom, and simply be present in the fact that you are claimed, called, and cared for by a God who wants nothing more than to bless you!
Love and Prayers,