Life's Sweet Journey: Surrender
Showing posts with label Surrender. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Surrender. Show all posts

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

#TravelTuesday 4// Laying Aside Fears of International Travel

As someone who loves adventure and thrill, it surprises people to learn that international travel scares me. I am usually up for anything! But after Greece, international travel scared me and I never really had a strong desire or need to see other parts of the world. Fear told me that the United States was full of enough beauty for a lifetime- and it is, full of so much beauty. But being afraid to step outside my comfort zone, and cutting off anything outside the borders of the U.S., discredits the rest of the amazing world that God created.

What am I afraid of? I think mostly the unknown. I like knowing what to expect. Do I think other places are really any scarier or more dangerous than the United States? No, not really. I think all places have things that it is right to be cautious of, in their own way. I just know the things to be afraid of in the states. Going to a new place means not knowing the things to be that I should be wary of.

It also makes me nervous to not be able to communicate with people. A communicator by nature, I love to talk to people, I love to be able to share stories and learn more about them and speaking different languages makes that hard. It makes me nervous not being able to understand what those around me are saying and not being able to join in on conversations. But my trips to Costa Rica helped alleviate some of that fear. There is a lot that can be spoken with expressions and having interpreters helps and sometimes you just branch out, make a fool of yourself and try to learn their language on-the-go. People are generally kind and willing to be helpful, in between laughs at all the things you said completely wrong! It really is true, that the best way to learn a new language is to immerse yourself in the culture.

But if I am being truly honest, I think the thing that might scare me the most is how God will use this trip to change me. I believe that travel in the U.S. can impact my heart and teach me things, but I am not sure if those trips will ever have as high a probability of creating pivotal moments in my life that can truly change parts of my heart. Change and me, we have never really gone well together- change has a funny way of rocking your entire world off its axis. I don’t enjoy having my world rocked, but I know that anyway He chooses to change me will be for the better- for His glory- it just doesn’t make it almost any less terrifying. God has a way of asking big things of those who follow Him. He breaks our hearts, over and over again, for what breaks His. He invites us to be part of the story He continues to write and it is, all at once, exciting and scary! Pivotal moments in life are usually never easy; they come with challenges and heartache, filling your heart with things that can tear it clean in two. But God is there, always with you, holding you, helping you and mending your heart. I need to remember that! And so I tell myself that, over and over, because I refuse to NOT do things because of fear! Fear will not stop me, because fear CAN NEVER stop God and He is always on my side!!

And so I remind myself of that and of all the wonderful things I would have missed out on if I have chosen to let fear take the wheel... 

//The beauty of Greece & Turkey// Sure, I was already there when my fear kicked in, but if I had chosen to let fear define my trip I wouldn't have truly seen the beauty that the country had to offer! 

//This miracle moment// My first out-of-country mission trip to Costa Rica was all girls (at least those of us leaving from the states) to drill wells with Agua Viva Serves. We worked alongside those in the community where the well was being built and other Costa Ricans employed through Agua Viva. The team helped me learn some spanish and then showed me how to work the drill rig! Helping with the pipes made me feel a sense of strength I had never experienced before and gave the guys a good chuckle to see that a girl could do some of the heavy lifting (they were very wary when I first asked them to teach me, especially since, in the Costa Rican culture, manual labor jobs are seen as men only work). Then, in the midst of all the mud, and the sweat and shoveling, a pipe striped and that pipe, the others connected to it and the drill bit all broke off from the rig and disappeared into the (now very deep) ground. We were worried that we had just lost all the progress, a weeks worth of labor hours, as well as expensive material literally down the hole; but God showed up in a big way and the guys were able to find a way to get the pipes out of the ground, find the striped pipe, replace it with a new one and keep going! I would have missed the elation and praise and smiles of that moment if I had let fear keep me from getting on the plane! 

//Babe's first mission trip// That first trip to Costa Rica, proved to me that I can live outside of the fear I had created in my head! The God moments of that trip began opening a door in my heart which led to another trip with Agua Viva Serves, but this time WITH BABE! This was his first mission trip ever (I had done others in the US when I was in youth group), but this was his first. It was so great to experience that time together and to watch God work through and around him! (man am I going to miss that face while I'm gone!) 

//And now for AFRICA// God used each of those moments to open the door of my heart, inch by inch, to say to me, "You! Go to Africa!" It was small at first, a nudge on a nudge, and then He screamed it at me!! And so, here I am go! And I am ready; even if my heart flutters and my knees shake a bit! I am ready and open and anxious to see what He will teach me!! 

Any travel advice for this nervous girl? Anyone been to Kenya? 
Anywhere fun you've been adventuring lately? Or plans to adventure soon?
Join in for this month's linkup and let's travel together! Just add your link below! 
~On the 2nd Tuesday of every month I will be sharing a new travel destination and would love to see where you have been exploring! 
~Any linked posts will be pinned under Travel Tuesday on my Pinterest
~No real rules, as I am not a huge fan of those sorts of things! Just add any travel related link and I encourage you to peek around and see where everyone else has been. Leave a little love where you like! 
~Feel free to grab the image from the sidebar and add it to your post so others know where to link up. 
Excited explore the globe with you all!!

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Words for Wednesday: Savannah Wisdom

We have been in Savannah since Monday and while I wasn't planning to post during the trip, I had to get on the computer to sign in to work for a few minutes, so I sent Babe off to explore the train museum (his history loving heart has been very happy in Savannah) while I worked. I finished up quicker than I thought I would and he is still out exploring, so I thought I would share this little wisdom find with you all before we leave Savannah and head to Fort McAllister State Park for the rest of the week! 

We have been loving Savannah, there is so much to see and do and EAT (oh, the food)!! We have done and good bit to walk it off though and, while we were doing just that, I stumbled upon this little token of a sign and had to snap a picture!

"To be able to fly, 
learn to let go of what holds you down."

So very, very true! There is so much that we hold on to that keeps up from truly being able to soar to our fullest! My word for 2015 was 'surrender' and so I had been trying to do just that this year; just let go, let it be and realize that there is not much I have to, or even need to, control. And so for 2016 I don't think I am going to really pick anything up! No huge New Year's resolution to feel the weight of sticking to. Instead I am going to continue to work on letting go of the things that hold me down {worry, doubts, fear...} and really just live. Live in the moment, cherish the day, breath it all in and repeat it again the next day if God grants me the chance to.

What about you? 
Anything you could do with putting down?

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Words for Wednesday: Living Water

There I was, on the side of a dirt road, surrounded by nothing but green; green lush land and dirty brown water. The water was pumping through a hose, into a huge water tank. It stunk, it had thick brown film floating on top and it was going to help us drill, drill a well to bring clean water to families in Costa Rica. And I thought, "how funny, that such dirty water was ultimately going to lead to clean water." Clean water, the kind that would keep sickness at bay and provide a healthier standard of living. And then I realized how fitting it was. 

Because that is how God works in us. 
He uses the brown, the dirty, the gunk-filled "stuff" that takes up our hearts and clouds our minds. He uses it to create something new. The drill works by pushing the dirty water through metal pipes to break up the dirt below. The dirt is then pushed out of the hole by the force of the water and emptied into pits. Pits that we shovel the dirt out of so that it doesn't clog the pipes up and end up back in the hole it just got removed from. 


God works in us the same way. 
He uses the muck and the sin
 and He washes it clean. 

Like the dirt, we often fight against the pressure, fight to keep control for ourselves, fight to hold onto the things that brought us a false sense of comfort. But He keeps working, slow and steady, always there. He works right through the "rocks" and the "tough earth" and He pushes it out. And He gives us the freedom to shovel it away. He asks us to be a part of the process, to be in relationship with Him and help dig ourselves out of the messes we make. He put the "shovel" there for us, when He sent His son. He gave us the ultimate help. And He keeps working in us. 
He works in us when we forget to pick up the shovel, when we our arms are tired and we feel like giving up and the dirt slips past and back down the hole, letting sin back in. He keeps working and drilling and cleaning, until finally we hit "pay dirt" and the fresh water can flow freely. And that's when all the work spills over and it's not just for us anymore, it's not just in us, but it's all around us. It's all around us, flowing out clean and fresh so that others can rejoice and share in it too. 
God's love is like that in us. It's like muddy Costa Rican water that, when worked through a drill, comes out clean and pure and life sustaining! And it's a glorious thing! 

The work being done through Agua Viva Serves is wonderful and life giving, not just for those in Costa Rica, but for those that get the opportunity to share in the work that is being done. If you would like to know more about the work they do or want put a team together to go you can find more about them at Agua Viva Serves. You can donate and help support their mission here

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Words for Wednesday: Surrender

So back at the beginning of this year, I chose surrender as my word for 2015. I have never done the whole 'one word for a year' thing and I haven't been pouring as much into it as I would have liked too. But it is ever present; it's there in words my ears pick up without meaning to, words like 'let go', it's there in the devotions that somehow seem to keep coming up and it's in the things I find myself pinning before I fall asleep at night. So today's Words for Wednesday post is for the small part of me that is learning what surrender really looks like. 

I think this one is the one that spoke the most to me. I have always been a firm believer in "our past is always with us", that it is part of who we are. And while I do still believe that, I think this surrender journey has left me feeling slightly different. The person I was, even two years ago, isn't the person I am today and while there are parts of her that I miss, there are also parts of her that I need to let go and move on from. I need to surrender the things that are remaining so that I can be the best version of the person that I am today. And while all those bits and pieces have helped reshape my soul into what it looks like now, I no longer need to carry the extra weight of them with me. And I am learning to realize that that is ok. 

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Surrendering the Older Brother

"Don't you know I'm the prodigal son?" He says it with a smirk and a condescending smile as he closes and locks the bathroom.

And, like something that feels threatened and angered I do the first thing that comes to my mind. I start spewing venom. I start banging on the locked door like all of the world's problems will be solved if I can just break the door from its hinges or in any way shape or form get him to move faster. "Open the dang door!! You are the most selfish person I have ever met in my entire life! Who do you think you are? Get out of the shower!! You do not have time to shower! Today is not about you!! We are already late and we have to leave! Dad said we had to be out in the car! You think of no one but yourself! You care about no one but yourself! We all know you're the fricking prodigal son, you sure do get everything you want!! That's your problem!! Now GET OUT!!!" I scream so hard my throat feels raw. I scream and I scream and I am right where I was before I ever even started screaming, behind a closed and locked door, accomplishing absolutely nothing. And do you know what happens with those words that left my mouth like venom? They burn. They burned coming out and they burn afterwards. They burn a hole right through you. They are words that never leave you.

There is no vindication in them. There is no answer. There is only weakness and the hurt that you felt and then placed on someone else. And maybe in that moment, when all my brother wanted was 5 minutes in the shower even though he had woken up late, he felt like he would use the prodigal son card to get what he felt he deserved. But when you feel like you have the authority to call yourself that it's also because you know how far you had fallen. How lost you had been. And instead of looking behind the condescending smile and the air of entitlement that I was "so sure" he was throwing in my face, I played into the older brother role yet again. And in that moment I was just as lost as I had always assumed he was. I was so far past any realm of understanding because I let my own brokenness cloud what was going on. I fell into my human nature and made my bitterness, my brokenness, more important than his struggle. And I will always carry that with me. You see, I vowed after that trip to NEVER again go on a family trip with John Wayne. Or at least to never be made to stay in the same hotel room with him. And I never did. I will never have the chance to. Because a year after that trip, he would never get the chance to take another one. 

I had prepared myself for this week's sermon. I had been given fair warning that this sermon was going to be about the prodigal son. I thought that I had come to terms with the demons that I faced that left me a heap of a mess after each previous sermon preached on this same story. I was wrong. Because again, from word one, I was waterworks. And do you know the moment that I truly broke open? It was these 4 simple words, "Jesus loves older brothers." That was all it took. I thought I had come to terms with it, with my sin and brokenness and the bitterness that played so strongly on my heart. I had asked God to forgive me. Thank God I had the opportunity to ask John Wayne to forgive me. But I realized, in that moment, that I had never allowed myself to forgive me. I never forgave that part of myself that held so strongly to those moments where everything in me broke. 

I held onto those words, to those moments of broken anger and others like them, like some badge of shame against myself, so that I would remember the feelings that came after them. I never really let them go. I let them play on repeat and fester in my mind and in my heart and all that did was lead to more broken and bitter feelings. This time at myself for the role I often played in our story. I feel grateful for the times where I could have a conscious discussion with my brother. I am grateful that not long before he died, we had been talking about trying to give the whole "family trip" another shot. And yet, I still could not surrender the hardness I had built against myself and his addiction to allow for me to drop my "older brother" badge altogether. I held onto it, unwilling to surrender it to God. Unwilling to let Him take it and make that part of my heart His. It seemed too ugly somehow. Too broken. But nothing is too broken for God.


"Jesus loves older brothers." 


My heart needed those words. Jesus came for everything lost in us, for the older brothers and younger brothers alike. And He said "I love youI love you more than the pain of death and loss and I will carry you home. I will celebrate YOU, because you were lost and now you are found." And with tears streaming I surrendered the darkest parts of myself. The parts I tried to keep locked tight and hidden away. I surrendered them then and I will surrender them each time I feel like I am trying to pull them back, because God can do such a better job at loving the older brother in me than I can. 

If you would like to listen to the sermon and the rest of the series (preached by Zach Van Dyke) you can click through the picture at the top of the post or find it here

Monday, January 12, 2015

One Little Word: Surrender

Halfway through 2014 I heard about this idea of 'One Word', of choosing a single word to help focus and change you through the year. I have never been good with resolutions. One, because I am a horrible long-term, follow-througher and two, because I feel like if you really want to change something or start something new, why not just do it, why wait? So the idea of one word to help me work with, to fit into my life, instead of a goal to work towards was appealing. I have also felt this yearning for something to help me focus during my devotional time and I think 'One Word' will help do the trick.

But that still left the task of finding the right word. What should I focus on for a year? What should my heart strive to, reflect on, build from?

To be honest I think God has been morphing this into my word for 2015 since I first heard of the idea. He has been planting seeds, watching how I water them and waiting for me to start tending them. Or really to start letting Him tend them for me.

He has been asking me to surrender.

And in typical fashion I tried my hardest to work around that. To keep surrender from being my word for this year. So it is only fitting that in order to choose my word, I had to surrender to it. Surrender to God. To let Him win the battle I had been waging over my idea of the "perfect" word. My original thought: "Surrender? Really? Why not create or joy? I would like a little bit more of either in my life."

Yet, so many times this year I have found myself saying, "Let it go. Let it be..."
After a year of nothing, of numbness and trying to walk through the darkest parts of my story without losing myself, I came to a new understanding of who I was. Of the way I worked around my life, constantly running on an invisible hamster wheel, turning things just so and at just the right speed to keep everything going. As if I had ever had any control. And when it all came crashing down I realized the truth; that there had never been any wheel at all. And so, in trying to figure out where to go without one, how to move forward without spinning wheels that weren't going nowhere, I heard this small little voice persistently calling me to just "surrender, to lay it all down." 

It was as if I could hear God telling me,
"Surrender. Let go and let Me. Surrender to me so that you can embrace more of me, embrace more of what I have for you. Know that it will be good. It may be hard, but it will be good. It will be by My plans, not by yours, but it will still be good. Remember, I work for the good of those who love me. So love me. Love me without plans and control, just let go and love me and it will be good. See where I take it."

And so I shall do just that. This year I will surrender.