Did she really just say that? or... Life in Dying or....the hardest thing I've ever written

My goal for this blog is to be transparent with those of you who read here via email or the WWW.  I have tried to talk about the good and the hard in these posts.  My post today is probably one of the most difficult I have ever written.  It is a post I don’t suggest everyone read, especially younger readers.  If you may not be comfortable with hard things I would suggest you click close and wait for the next post. My prayer is, as you read this, you would see Him at work and seek Him.


When I moved to Honduras I was 38 years old.  I went there for an indefinite time. 

A year later I was in the states, sick and finding out I needed a hysterectomy.  It was 2 months before my 40th birthday. I've said for a long time if I didn't have kids by 40 I didn't want to.  I think it was the Lord preparing my heart for that April sitting in the MD's office telling him my choice was surgery. When I turned 40 I didn't mind so much, I was living in Honduras with my kids, ministry, and a crazy full life.

2 years later I was leaving Honduras, My kids, my heart, behind with a country I had come to love, full of people who held my heart.  The Lord made it clear it was time and I was okay with it.  Sitting on the water tower the last night I was at Emmanuel just sealed the deal, with the Father telling me He would take care of the 100+ kids I had come to call mine.  I left Emmanuel at 42. 

Moving back to the States brought a whole culture shock that I did not expect.  Returning from the mission field I knew would be hard. I felt out of place and like my life was a bit chaotic and completely unsettled. I know my return was His plan.  He was clear, confirming it over and over. He provided a job before my return, a car, a place to live with a great family.  

His plan for me included that job ending after less than a year then 3 months in Israel at the age of 43.  His plan was also for me to move to Ohio after my time in Israel.  I knew this going to Israel and He used even that uncertainty to teach me. It's crazy that I haven't blogged about my time in Israel or since I returned In December.  I think it is because I didn't know what to say.  In a lot of ways I still don't. It was just so rich and sweet. 

I loved my time in Israel and could talk about it for days.  I think it was rest for my heart and soul I needed after the shock of returning from Honduras.  It was like being on field trips with Jesus and Him showing me where He had been and what He did.  His presence felt more tangible there some days more than most days of my life. I am grateful for my time there. I am thankful that He is still teaching me from the word about places I have been in Israel and things He did when He was physically present there. These places and His truth still echo in my heart. My time in Israel was a rest and a time alone with Him He knew I would need in days to come.   

I share this background information so that perhaps you can see what He has done to get me to where I am today. That you would see His hand and His heart was not distant in bringing me through and to where I am, especially in the past 5 years.  

I know I am not alone in my struggles and it is my prayer that if nothing else, this would encourage you in yours- whether they feel similar or not, at the core they are the same. They are struggles and sin we fight until we see Him face to face. 

When I had my surgery in 2014, it took me months to heal up and feel somewhat normal.  Normal being nothing was hurting.  I don't know that I will ever feel "normal" after 2014.  What I found about 5 months after my surgery and things stopped hurting was that my body had changed.  For whatever reason- increased blood flow because my super huge uterus was no longer hogging blood, hormonal changes (I still have my ovaries so it's not really that so much) or I don't know the reason why.  

My body has lost it's mind.  It's cranked up and some days really sensitive. I told a friend about it and she said "It's like you are a teenage boy!" I never really have felt like I do in all my life.  It was so bad and completely frustrating, distracting and making me crazy I went to my Doc about it.  His nurse said "You realize ladies come in here with the opposite problem right?"  I told her "Yep, but I am single and this is really NOT helpful in ANY way."  My Doc is a wonderful guy and told me that there wasn't any clear physical reason why my body was acting like it was.  He suggested I could try birth control pills to see if it helped.  He also told me that perhaps  finding physical release might be helpful- masturbation. I prefer the term solo sex, but either way it's awkward to talk about.  

I took the pill samples home and had a conversation with a friend who knew what was going on.  I am sure there were tears involved.  I knew after researching the pills  it was not an option for me, just too many side effects to deal with.  And solo sex was not an option either.  The Father had made that very, very clear to me as soon as I realized that I had this problem with my cranked up body.  It was NO.  He made it very clear that engaging in that would not bring any sort of permanent relief I was seeking, not even temporary relief really, and that it would mentally take me places I don't need to go. He has made it clear to me in scripture and confirmed through people I sought counsel, it is not an option.  It creates a selfish view of sex and does not in any way reflect his design.

So for almost four years I fought it.  Lots of tears, scripture, long nights, prayer, prayer with my friend, more scripture and the Holy Spirit's constant reminders, I fought.  My time in Israel oddly was pretty calm.  I joke that the more I spend time with Him in His word and prayer and worship the worse my body gets.  I joke that I guess it's like when you are in love with someone your body responds.  I am in love with Him and the same is true.  However my time in Israel was a lot calmer than any other time since this started. Perhaps the spiritual battle I feel like this also involves was just different while I was there.  Satan just knew He needed to back off- it wouldn't work for Him.  I'm not sure. 

I am sure of one thing... My return to the US brought nothing but more difficulty and me falling into sin.  

Less than two weeks after I returned from Israel I was no longer saying no to what my body was continually screaming at me.  The very thing He made clear to me that I had to say no to, I said yes.  There was very temporary relief in it.  But the struggle remained and even felt more difficult.  I know knew what the "maybe" looked like and there was no taking that back in my mind.  I chose sin. I wish I could say it was one time deal.  It wasn't.

I told no one.  Not even my best friend who had supported me through 4 years of battling this. I couldn't face the Father about it.  I knew I had gone against His command for me.  I knew I had broken His heart and my relationship with Him was affected. I was living in a new darkness that I had created because I was choosing to sit in the dark apart from Him.  

Finally 3 weeks later, sitting in the car in a parking lot, I told my friend what was going on.  I found the Father's grace, love, and forgiveness in her words and her heart. We ended that conversation with prayer and time before Him. I finally brought into the light the brokenness in me that only He can fix.  I don't know why it took so long to talk about it other than shame and guilt.  Fear of being vulnerable in  admitting failure, because after 4 years of fighting I had failed. 

But He has not failed.  My choosing sin has not changed the victory He has won.  His victory over death and sin is permanent.  My choices that lead me to participate in the sin my flesh craves does not change the fact that He is a Loving Savior who Forgives and Holds Life and Victory in His Hands. 

I can say He is drawing me in to Him like I have never experienced.  He has provided friends to be honest with and share my story.  To pray for me and with me.  He has overwhelmed me time and again with human beings in my space to say "If you have to come to Him again and again He will not grow tired or weary of your approach.  His love for you hasn't changed."

He even provided a small group for women that has been offered for the first time at our church for women and sexual struggles of all kinds.  It's helped me identify that days I need to feel control and comfort will be harder days for me.  Mostly it has reminded me again and again the truth of His word and His heart for His created people. It has been my heart over the past 4 years to have some group like this for women because I have known I am not the only one fighting this battle. It took me moving to Ohio to see He has provision for it.  Little did I know how much I personally would need it last summer He laid it on my heart to move.

The past 4 plus years He has taught me over and over what putting on my armor means (See previous blog posts about that).  What it means in Ephesians 6  to "Stand. Stand Firm."  That fleeing from temptation isn't just to blindly run away, but to run to HIM (1 Corinthians 6:18).  (1 Corinthians 10:13-14) And most recently I have asked for months what does it really mean when Paul said "And He said to me, 'My Grace Is Sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness'  Most gladly, therefore, I will boast about my weakness so that the power of Christ may Dwell in me." 2 Corinthians 12:9

At the beginning of April I started getting angry at God about all this. It's not about the internet or blaming anything else...It's about whatever happened to my body to change it this way.   He allowed this and he could stop it, but He hasn’t.  I became so angry I stopped listening to Him.  I stopped reading His word.  I stopped even reading devotional emails I would get daily.  I unfollowed almost any Jesus related thing on Instagram and Twitter that wasn't person related.  I was ANGRY. I did not care what He had to say.  I also knew every argument I had was empty and was based on feeling not fact.  But I told myself I didn't care. I told no one for over a week about my anger. Surprisingly my body felt a lot calmer. It was mostly because I felt numb and dead. 

Yet He kept pursuing me.  Speaking to me undeniable words of love, grace, and mercy.  Calling me to repentance from my embracing rebellious anger.  A few weeks ago I asked a friend if we could pray.  As we prayed He called me to death.  I really felt like I just had to die.  I had to die from fighting this.  I had to die from striving.  I had to die from thinking that I could do any of it. For the first time in a long time I didn't feel so burdened and crushed by it. 

His power perfected in weakness.... I finally see what Paul was talking about.  For me weakness looks like complete death.  

Again, I would love to say since I got up off the floor when that prayer time was over that I have not struggled.  I would love to say that when things get hard I have always said no to sin and chosen Him.   I have not. It hurts my heart to say that.  I know my choices affect my relationship with Him and with others.  My choice to sin darkens my days and provides NO relief. 

However, I can say that I don't and I won't stop asking Him to do His work in me.  To teach me each day How to be His in this.  How to find His victory for me in it. To confess my sin to others in repentance and ask again for Him to forgive me when needed. Ask Him daily to change my heart to be more like His.  For the Power of Christ to Dwell in me.  Because that is the only way. For this or any sin we may struggle with to lose it's power....for Him to have victory over it.  To die to Him in it. To walk in His freedom even in the midst of what feels like war.  

I share this because I know we all have issues that are sin in our lives we struggle with. Many of you have shared them with me.  Lately I am finding I am not alone in this...it is not simply a "dude problem" It is sadly an issue for many teens and women.  It is not simply about being safe on the internet, or choosing the right boyfriend or girlfriend.  It is about our hearts and choosing things that do not honor Him, WHATEVER  that sin may be.

We have to bring it out of the dark into His light.  If we can't do that as the body of Christ there is no hope to be found for it anywhere else. The same is for sin of any kind.  Sin is sin and He doesn't want us in it. Drunkeness, Drugs, Lying, Cheating, Sex outside of Marriage, Gossip, Coveting, Stealing, and I could go on for a page... Every one breaks the Heart of God, Grieves the Holy Spirit, and is Why Christ Died for us.  Somehow we have created "levels" of sin and some we cannot speak about or admit we struggle with.  It is a lie.  The Body of Christ must expose the lies and speak truth. To edify and encourage.  To help bring freedom to brothers and sisters we serve with. To expose those things that we use as things to replace where God should be (idols). I share this to encourage any of you to ask Him to do His work in you.  Find someone to confess and pray with and for you.  To push you to His word and speak truth when things feel too hard.  When the lies just feel too loud.  May we find grace to admit that often we will continue to struggle with things and it's not always immediately fixed? That we find Him day to day, moment by moment as we walk, and be ok with being in process... 

I share this with you to once again say:

Be His.  

Because being His is the best place to be. He created us.  He knows our hearts (He made us).  He loves us (He knows and made us).  Trust that He does have His best for you.  Even when it feels dark and hard. Even when it feels like death. He does amazing things with death...like bring new life. 

The Shepherd will always take care of His sheep.  (Psalm 23, Ezk. 34, John 10) So follow Him. Let Him take the crap and take care of your Heart. 

Love you guys. 

Be His. 


If you wish to contact me instead of commenting on the blog please feel free- aalongest@gmail.com

He Provides

I can't believe I didn't blog for the last month I was in Israel.  Well. I can believe it because I was busy working and running around the country, I just like seeing those moments here since it seems more permanent than my Instagram account.  If you did not see those days, feel free to find me on Instagram eugena8411 and see them there. 

I told my #village email group I would one day blog about the ways that the Lord provided while I was in Israel.  The tangible ways that I could take a picture of.  I made a list in my phone of the most notable ones so I could blog about it here. 

So here goes. 6 months later. (Sorry!)

When I went to Israel I was limited in luggage for weight. So last minute things were taken out like my hair dryer and a few other things.  My hair is fine to air dry but the problem is that I take a shower at night so I go to bed with my hair wet a lot of times if I can't blow dry it.  Soon after I got to Yad8 I was digging around in my room and found a hair dryer that I got to use left by someone who lived there before! 

Last summer on a trip to Ohio I set out on a mission with Bufanda to find a quilt.  We headed to Amish country and looked high and low, but all we found was king size for $1200 plus or baby size quilts that were wall hangings.  I left Amish  country with an idea of what I would like to one day make or have made and that was all.  When I got to Yad8 this was in my cabinet with a couple of fleece blankets.  Like the hair dryer and other things in the room I was told if it was left I could have it. So I did. It is my favorite color and even has a soft cotton bottom on it.  Whoever made it was not a pro, the stitching is crooked, uneven and in places coming apart, but that lends to greater appeal for me.  Even better is that the thread used goes from silver to light blue on to darker blue.  It is a cool quilt and I made sure I had space in my luggage to get it home. 

IMG_0867   FullSizeRender

pizza for breakfast

While at Yad8 they fed us 3 meals a day.  Breakfast was the best- the same buffet that the guests have each morning.  Lunch was very hit or miss, leftovers or some sort of random thrown together affair for just the volunteers.  Dinner was before the guests and often was leftovers or the same sort of thing we always had. I am not complaining, but it felt like groundhog day after about a week and it was hard to get excited about eating there. I usually had a lot of salad items with hummus and some bread for lunch or dinner.  Breakfast was usually some yogurt with granola and raisins, some bread with butter and homemade jelly, dates, and a few other items.  While I am not a sweet food for breakfast gal, I did love this breakfast.  The most exciting thing was when they had pizza for breakfast.  As a savory breakfast eater it was a highlight.  However they ALWAYS had kernel corn on the pizza! Most of the time I would pop the kernel corn out of it though. My friend Christina from Ecuador said that they always have corn on their pizza in Ecuador too. I do not understand this concept. She even picked corn the day we went to Pizza Hut in the mall.  Thanks but no. haha



New Pillow and mattress 

These two things go together... Yad8 volunteer beds are mattresses that are foam covered in a fabric.  It's the same mattresses we use for extra beds in the hotel rooms. On a fold out wooden cot thing.  I am a side sleeper and need a softer bed or my neck will end up hurting.  This is thanks to an incident when I fell on my head in a ball pit during my college days while I was nannying. One day while I was in the housekeeping office our boss, Israel, said that I could get an extra mattress out of the shelter to use.  There was a real mattress that we no longer use from the hotel rooms. He said because we no longer used those I could have it.  If we needed extra mattresses for when we have so many extra guests I would need to give my foam mattress back during that time but I would get it back.  The "real" mattress was too wide to fit down in my bed frame so I needed the foam one under it or I would sleep sideways on a hill. My life was dramatically changed and I actually could sleep for most of the night.  The first few weeks were terrible between the mattress and my roommate on her phone til 1-2am (I had a discussion with her about this and she would leave the room at 11pm which was beginning of silent hours). 


When my chatty roommate left I was making up the bed for the roommate we had coming in from Ecuador.  While I was doing so I found that she had a nice Sealy pillow along with her other regular not so great pillows.  So yep, I acquired that for my bed.  I was sleeping so good by the time I left Yad8! haha. 

Toilet Seat

When my new roommates Mayra and Joonye came they talked about how dirty our bathroom was.  I showed them photos of the once orange color molded bathroom and how I had scrubbed it clean.  (photo is after i had sprayed some red cleaner on it) The floor was almost black to begin with. IMG_9295 IMG_9298

 The remaining grey grout was just a side effect of the super old tile.  Mayra talked about the toilet seat being dirty also.  Well, the toilet seat wasn't dirty- it had been cleaned and scrubbed but because it was a billion years old it had discolored and pitted.  Turns out that night or the next day when I went down to the volunteer laundry area I found a new toilet seat! The laundry area is under a dorm building and is the throw it under here place when people leave and do not want things.  Every 6 months or so it has to get cleaned out because so many random things get thrown under there and rarely does anyone want any of it.  I have no idea where the toilet seat came from! But I screwed that thing in and it was like Christmas up in apartment 42! Joy over a toilet seat! 

In Israel there is cheese. However the cheese they mostly have is an anemic sort of "yellow" cheese.  It is okay as cheese goes but it is not cheddar.  The Elvis Diner down the road is a good location for a yummy burger I had heard, so I kept saying I would go down there.  I started working nights a lot and one week decided to head to Elvis for the burger and fries on the night of my day off.  The night before I was working and a team had used a couple of rooms to just take showers after their dead sea trip before they headed to the airport.  When I went in to get the towels and clean up the room I found a bag of P3 Protein packs.  They had nuts and cranberries and other things in them.  The best part? Several of them had cheddar cheese! You bet I was rejoicing picking those up to take to the fridge! I got my burger and piled those little cheese squares up on it and smiled while I ate it sitting at my little desk. In case you did not know- Cheese is a food group in my book.  Yes, an entire food group.     IMG_9661


My room was a big room with three beds.  There were two overhead lights- one on the bigger side of the room where one roommate and I were and the other over in the little side where my chatty roomie was.  We all had night stands and the two of them had little lamps on their nightstands.  I did not.  I was always sitting in the dark because the overhead like aggravated me because I would lie in my bed reading and it was perfectly in the wrong place to point in my eyeballs over my book while reading.  I bought a $3 little led light that would work to read with but it was far from ideal.  One day in the housekeeping office I was asked by Israel if I could put together some IKEA lamps for a room.  I told him that I would gladly do that.  He told me when I put them in the room to put the unbroken lamp in the storage unless I needed it.  I told him I would love to have the lamp because I DID need it! He told me just to put it in storage later when I was leaving.  Boom! Finally a light I could read with.  

Funny thing is my new roommates and I would all sit in the dark or with our lamps on reading or on our phones every night after about 8pm. They both said it is cozy and they liked it.  I agreed. 

Salted Caramel spicy Chocolate 

The regular night shift is  a pretty sweet deal. I would clean the offices and the sauna each night.  Sometimes for super late check outs I would strip beds or clean a room or two.  Mostly it was running around doing things for guests like extra towels or a last minute extra bed.  I worked 3:30 to 10:30.  We had a few weekends when we had the entire hotel filled up with a conference .  When this happened often people would just show up with their conference and we would have to add in extra beds or mattresses on the floor.  This meant a lot of extra stuff and running around usually at end of the night.  One night in particular the front desk asked about a room that we use for the volunteers and college students. I told them it was full of portable heaters and wasn't clean.  Literally 30 heaters and dirty as can be.  Well about 10:10 I get a call to ask if the room was ready.  I told her no because she didn't ask me to clean it and move the heaters.  So Here I am moving 30 heaters and cleaning for one guy who decided to notify the desk he needed a bed...5 hours after he arrived and went to the worship and service first.  I didn't finish that night until after 11:00.  She knew I wasn't happy about it since she didn't TELL me that I needed to clear and clean the room.  So she bribed me with chocolate the next day I worked.  I told her bribes are appreciated but next time don't do it! haha



I can talk about how I started being the luggage van driver for groups which provided a LOT of extra income.  No one else could drive a stick shift, so I helped everytime with luggage.  It allowed me to pay for my rental car and entrance fees for the last half of my trip. 

I could talk about how I got sick and He provided simple things like apple cinnamon tea, extra breaks from my boss during work, and sweet nap times. 

I could share simple things like waiting in a hotel for a friend wishing I had some water after my long walk through Jerusalem.  Only to find the unopened bottle on the table in the lobby was unclaimed.  

I could continue on by sharing how I was longing for comfort food like cheddar, only to find a pound in the grocery store my last two weeks in Israel.

I won't continue on for thousands of words, but close with this... 


The very last day I was in Israel I finished my time in Jerusalem at the Garden Tomb.   I just sat and journaled about my time in Israel and listened to the relative quiet in that garden spot in the middle of Jerusalem.  As I left I walked through their gift shop and got a few things.  When I was checking out I saw some wooden nativity scene ornaments. I had been looking for some wooden ornaments for some friends and my sister.  All the ones I had found were flat and quite boring.  These were shaped like stars and were exactly what I had been looking for the past 7 weeks! It was a sweet gift. 

I finished my time in Israel going about a tenth of a mile down the street from where I had lived for 3 months.  It seems that the road to Emmaus is not so far from Yad8. So I walked over there and stood on the dirt road and just thought about my time in Jesus' home country.  How I had encountered Him in new ways day by day.  Even how my veiled understanding of so many things had been changed by the Holy Spirit and encountering Jesus. I cannot put into words so many things that I learned over 3 months in that place.  I stood on that road looking across the mountain and valley in the direction those men would have been walking and just wept in gratitude and amazement. Thankful and longing for the day I will see Him face to face. 


Sorry this is choppy and incomplete.  There are photos missing.  There are more stories to be told. After 6 months of being in the US I really just needed to get this out of my draft posts and get it out into the WWW.  I wanted to just share a little bit about how He just provided some physical things during my time there. Grace upon grace as He provided daily for my heart and soul.  I am continually amazed how He does that even here in the states.  My prayer is that each of you would see His provision and care for you today. 

Be His. 

Can I hire someone to search adjectives for me please?

You may be able to click on photos to see them bigger and zoom in as you wish to view details.... just heads up on that. 


I haven’t been to Jerusalem in like 10 days…so on my day off Thursday I planned to go up to the Mount of Olives and the Israel Museum (Has the Dead Sea Scrolls). I got to Jerusalem early and it was raining off and on so I sat in a café and enjoyed some tea and a marvelous Phyllo Apple thing. Walking in the Old City is dangerous when wet…it gets really slick because the walkway stones are so smooth. AND I had forgotten my umbrella. 

I walked through the Muslim Quarter on the way to the Lions Gate. I got a little lost and a touch bit concerned… I felt very conspicuous alone so early in the Muslim quarter…on the side alleys if you will. Good thing is there are police or military about every 10 yards in the area I was in. It is really neat to just wander around and take in the area without the crowds and the tour groups and all the people blocking up things.

I got to the Lion gate- the gate that Stephen is said to be taken out of to be stoned. So you know what that means? Saul/ Paul was also there! Lions Gate

Down the steep hill to the Garden of Gethsemane/ Basilica/ Church of the Nations. I have already been here but since I had my actual camera I went back. Walking past olive trees that have been dated to the time of Christ…and thinking about the Olive press lesson I got the other day in our biblical garden.  Just amazing that Jesus was here and his disciples. That they were often in this garden gathering.   Gethsemane Trees

I sat down inside the church (I try to just take time when I go places, read scripture, and not just take pictures and leave). While there a group that was there sang When I Survey the Wondrous Cross. I am not sure what language it was, but it was beautiful.  

Download When I survey     (sorry I can't get the video to embed here... erggg) 

I looked up and the mosaic above me was donated by the church in Spain…. Each square dome area is different and paid for by a different country...hence the Church of All Nations. This one said Obedient unto Death around the cross in the center. 

   Obedient unto Death

Not sure why it struck me like it did. I think because in the past year I have had quite a few people tell me that when they think of me they think of Obedience. And as I read that I just couldn’t help but think “Father may I be obedient…even unto death.” I can’t imagine not being any other way. His way is the best way, and He saved me…why wouldn’t I give my life to what He has? I had just texted a friend earlier about how grateful I was…just that He had saved me, that would be enough, but He keeps giving each day. It’s overwhelming.

There are mosaics on every bit of the ceiling, and three beautiful ones up front. The flames on the torch were just especially beautiful. And since blue is my favorite color I was in love with the roof. 

Judas Mosaic
Judas Mosaic

After leaving the church I went up the road to the Mount of Olives. The church of Mary Magdelene is on this road and the church that Jesus is said to have wept over the city. Since I didn’t want to deal with the crowds and paying some muslim guy 5 shekels to get in I skipped them both. And for those of you who ask if it is safe here…in the Lions gate photo you can see a grey pole sticking out the top of it…camera. And cameras pointing down every alley. And all up this road. One right behind me and one down the hill. If something happens to me, I can almost guarantee that there will be a video of what happened. Just FYI. 

Is it safe

The Mount of Olives is mostly Jewish Graves. Jews pay big money to be buried there so they can be the first to be resurrected when the Messiah comes. The gates were open and people were going in and taking photos from an overview type area. I somehow missed the sign that said private area, for visitors to cemetery only. So I ended up wandering around and up the mount through the cemetery.

There was a rather large building with graves inside- Rabbi someone and his family. I went behind it and stood up there for at least an hour and a half looking at the city. The building blocked me from the people up on the top of the Mount and I kind of felt alone.  Andi watching

In order for you to understand how I felt standing there you have to understand I had my ipod playing in my ears and on shuffle. I often joke that God is in charge of my ipod because there are so many times the perfect song comes on the perfect time. And sometimes its a song I could swear I never heard will come on.

So here’s the ones I took note of (literally took notes)

How deep the Saviors love for us

How deep the Father's love for us?
How vast beyond all measure
That He should give His only Son
To make a wretch His treasure?

How great the pain of searing loss?
The Father turned His face away
As wounds which mar the Chosen One
Bring many sons to glory

Behold the Man upon a cross
My sin upon His shoulders
Ashamed, I hear my mocking voice
Call out among the scoffers

It was my sin that held Him there
Until it was accomplished
His dying breath has brought me life
I know that it is finished

I will not boast in anything
No gifts, no power, no wisdom
But I will boast in Jesus Christ
His death and resurrection

Why should I gain from His reward?
I cannot give an answer
But this I know with all my heart
His wounds have paid my ransom

Why should I gain from His reward?
I cannot give an answer
But this I know with all my heart
His wounds have paid my ransom
How deep?

Grace to Grace- Hillsong

If love endured that ancient cross
How precious is my Savior's blood
The beauty of heaven wrapped in my shame
The image of love upon death's frame
If having my heart was worth the pain
What joy could You see beyond the grave
If love found my soul worth dying for
How wonderful, how glorious
My Savior's scars victorious
My chains are gone, my debt is paid
From death to life and grace to grace
If heaven now owns that vacant tomb
How great is the hope that lives in You
The passion that tore through hell like a rose
The promise that rolled back death and its stone
If freedom is worth the life You raised
Oh where is my sin, where is my shame?

If love paid it all to have my heart
How wonderful, how glorious
My Savior's scars victorious
My chains are gone, my debt is paid
From death to life and grace to grace
When I see that cross, I see freedom
When I see that grave, I'll see Jesus
And from death to life, I will sing Your praise
In the wonder of Your grace
How my soul will sing Your praise
In the wonder of Your grace
How my soul will sing Your praise
How wonderful, how glorious

My Savior's scars victorious
My chains are gone, my debt is paid
From death to life and grace to grace

Life Means so much – Chris Rice

Every day is a journal page
Every man holds a quill and ink
And there's plenty of room for writing in
All we do in believe and think
So will you compose a curse
Or will today bring the blessings?
Fill the page with rhyming verse
Or some random sketching
Teach us to count the days
Teach us to make the days count
Lead us in better ways
Somehow our souls forgot
Life means so much, life means so much, life means so much
Every day is a bank account
And time is our currency
So no one's rich, nobody's poor
We get 24 hours each
So how are you gonna spend
Will you invest or squander
Try to get ahead
Or help someone who's under
Teach us to count the days
Teach us to make the days count
Lead us in better ways
Somehow our souls forgot
Life means so much, life means so much, life means so much
Has anybody lived who knew the value of a life
And don't you think giving is all will prove the worth of yours and mine?
Teach us to count the days
Teach us to make the days count
Lead us in better ways
Somehow our souls forgot
Life means so much
Every day is a gift you've been given
Make the most of the time every minute you're living
Every day is a gift you've been given
Make the most of the time every minute you're living
Lead us in better ways (Every day is a gift you've been given),
Somehow our souls forgot (Make the most of the time every minute you're living),
Life means so much (Every day is a gift you've been given), 
Life means so much (Make the most of the time every minute you're living), 
Life means so much


Though I feel alone- Enter the worship circle

Though I feel alone
I am never alone
You are with me
Oh, my Lord

In the night-time while I'm on my bed
I will let every thought be of You
For you are good
You take all those who will come to You

In the morning as I face the day
I will let every thought be of You
For you are good
You take all those who will come to You 


Forever- Hillsong

I'll Worship at Your Throne
Whisper my own love song
With all my heart I'll sing
For You my Dad and King
I'll live for all my days
To Put a smile on Your face
And when we finally meet
It'll be for eternity

And Oh how wide You open up Your arms
When I need Your love
And how far You would come
If ever I was lost
And You said that all You feel for me
Is undying love
That You showed me through the cross

I'll worship You my God
I'll worship You my God
I love You
I love You
Forever I will sing
Forever I will be with You
Be with You

Those clouds

 Those Clouds!! 

Those clouds


Those clouds

Those clouds
Those clouds

City southern steps view Mt.

Sorry they are out of order... I don't know why the ol blog is giving me issues. 

I stood there and wept. Wept at the opportunity to be here, for the love of my Savior I will spend eternity with, for the lost and broken who don’t know Him or have rejected Him.

   Andi cryin

keepin it real there... but really this was just a touch of it. You know the you are about to lose it, but you are trying not to? yeah give it about 30 seconds....   I was boo hooing.... 

I could hear the drums and singing from down at the Western Wall area of a Bar Mitzpah. I could hear car horns honking from the Dung Gate. I could even at times hear people laughing from down below. It’s amazing how on a mountain side you can hear from so far away…even here at Yad Hashmona when I am in my hammock I can hear people from the hill on the other side of the valley. So it is easy to understand how Jesus would teach to the multitudes on hillsides/mounts. It is so easy to hear!

The Muslim call to prayer started up when I was up there.

Download Muslim Call

Mulitple speakers in multiple locations from the Temple mount to the Arab neighborhoods south of the city and possibly from the mosque just up behind me. If you have never heard it. It is one of the spookiest sounding things to me. I remember hearing it in Uganda for the first time. It hurts my heart.

It is hard to put into words how overwhelmed I was. I think that is why I spent so long up there…I just wasn’t ready to leave. 

As I walked back down there was a little sitting area off a different walkway that lead down to the main road. I sat down and read through Luke 19.

Luke 19

I won’t say much but I will say it summed up how my heart felt standing up on that Mount. This country is such a complicated place. The whole world is. I was texting my friend about a situation she encountered that seemed to relate to what I had been thinking--- the only way we will EVER have peace is in Christ. There is too much pride and brokenness for anyone ever to even try to get along without Him. He instills in us Humility Peace and Love that we can never find in ourselves. I am grateful for the hope I have because of Him… I cannot imagine life without it. My prayer is to live in such a way that hope would be evident to others and they will come to know Him.

I walked down in front of the Church of All Nations, with the Kidron Valley on my left and the Old City on the other side.   Church of all Nations mosaic front
Church of all Nations mosaic front

I saw behind St. Stephens Monastary there is a protestant cemetery. I thought what a cool place to be buried. In the Garden of Gethsemane area just below the Mercy/Golden Gate. Not that they are enjoying the location their body is in…but a cool spot. 

Protestant Cemetary Mercy Gate view

I walked on the road opposite the churches and the Mt. of Olives to see if the Mercy Gate cemetery gates were open.  As I walked I took photos...and I saw a guy in the middle of the "Valley of Kings Walkway" praying.  You may have to click on the photo and make it bigger to see him.I think he had been working in the cemetery under that blue tarp.  I don't know if he was still praying since the call to prayer earlier or had just started.  But the whole time I could see him he was praying.  Standing, down on his face, standing, down on his face.  I have to give serious props to him... just doing it out with his mat there in the walkway.  Also broke my heart.... You can see him standing in the photo about middle of the frame.Muslim guy

  Mt of Olives
 Just before I saw him the bells on the churches broke out... so fun to hear echo in the valley against the city wall! 

The gates were open into the cemetery at the Mercy Gate. I found out there is a pathway from the Lion gate around toward the south side of the temple Mount which is great if you don't want to walk down the killer hill around and take the short cut.  Last week I was afraid I was in some sacred territory but there were tour groups I could see from the Mt. of Olives earlier so I figured it isn't.  And I found the grounds run down, trashy and quite sad. I kept thinking about eternity as I walked past those graves and how the people all around me are choosing today who they will serve...

Finally Free- Nichole Nordeman comes on my ipod  UNDONE. again.

No chain is strong enough
No choice is wrong enough
No mountain high enough that He
can't climb

No shadow dark enough
No night is black enough
No road is lost enough that He can't find

And if the Son has set us free
Then we must be, free indeed
Let the chains fall away, starting today
Everything has changed
I'm finally free

No pain is deep enough
No heart could bleed enough
Nothing but Jesus' love can make a way

And if the Son has set us free
Then we must be, free indeed
Let the chains fall away, starting today
Everything has changed
I'm finally free 

Interesting thing was I saw several of these green coffins along the way.  One of them even had the white pillow still in it propped standing up next to a grave. 

  Muslim cemetary coffin

I don't know any arabic but am interested to find out what they say.  I was stopped by a couple from Canada to take a photo of them and they asked what they should see in their last 2 days there.  I gave them a couple stellar ideas ;) and loved talking to them.  

As I am walking up to the Mercy Gate and standing there staring at it and thinking lots of thoughts about the folks just above, the trash hanging down from it, I am also thinking about when Christ returns... Returns into this City to Reign...and the NEW comes...New everything! 

Mercy Gate Andi

And Dennis Jernigan Come as a Bridegroom is playing in my ear.

Here in the glory of Your light
I will bow while purify me pure as holy white
Cleansed by the blood that freely flow from Your side
I will wait in Your presence till You take me as Your bride

(Won't You)
Come as a bridegroom for Your bride
Come and take me tou Your side
I surrender Lord to Your arms open wide

Won't You
Come in the glory of a King
While I worship You and sing
You alone are worthy
Take Your bride
Lord Jesus Christ, my King 

I cannot make this up if I tried.  I could not manage to make a more fitting playlist as I went through this day if I thought about it for a week.  

As I walked back through the Lions Gate I could have floated back to Yad Hashmona.  My heart was so full from what I had experienced and getting to text my friend and how God is working out details for her I could literally have fallen down dead and been fine with it.  Straight to heaven.  

Instead I decided to wander around the Shuk- the market that is crazy booth after booth for alleys and alleys and find the Bama Store.  I met the brother of the Owner and gave him a good War Eagle in response to his greeting.  Checked it out and said I would come back after consulting with my Bama friends.  He gave me his card! haha Such a nice guy... and hopefully not just because he was trying to sell me somethings.  haha

On the way to Jerusalem this morning I got so motion sick which is unusual.  I get a little not feeling good, but I was full on sweating and hoping I could make it to the city without losing my breakfast. I think it was the strong Rose scent someone around me had on.  When I got off I literally was rejoicing for the stinky streets of Jerusalem.  I am reminded of my times walking around NYC or NOLA... the smell of buses and cars, and the aroma of urine and trash.  That's how Jerusalem smells at the bus station and from time to time as I walk around.  It is a huge city and because of that the smells happen.  As I walked through the muslim quarter I found one reason....these boys playing some peeing game.  Kids peeing

I think they were trying to get it in the hole in the middle of the manhole cover.  When I saw them there were 2 at once taking their turns.  Just laughing it up...boys.  I have yet to understand them.  hahaha

 I walked down Jaffa street like I had in the morning instead of taking the light rail.  Partly to look for some boots I can wear when it rains since I have tennis shoes and my canvas crocs.  Partly just because I wasn't in a hurry, my legs weren't aching, and I wanted to see stuff.  I found myself taking photos of graffiti and trash.  Just felt beautiful to me... I find the strangest things just so beautiful...the colors usually just do it for me! 

Jerusalem graffiti
Jerusalem graffiti

As I passed Jaffa Center rail stop there was an asian guy with a speaker and mic set up.  He was playing a harmonica to The sweet by and by.  I have seen him just outside the old city reading scripture or something evangelistic in the mornings.  It's in his mother language so I am not sure what it is, but it is Christian I do know for sure from what they have displayed on their podium.  I have never seen him doing the harmonica thing.  But it was fun! 

Download Sweet Bye and Bye


I will end my day with a shot I took on the Via Dolorosa. 

Patchwork wall

I just loved the jumble of the arch and the stones and I am sure what is different eras of building remains.  The actual road that Jesus would have walked is 6-12 feet down below the current road.  Centuries of war and rubble will do that...

What I found out today is that this wall is part of the Antonia Fortress that Herod built onto the Temple Mount.  Pontious Pilot put Jesus on trial inside this wall.  It is now a school. Back then it was barracks and prison.  I had no idea until I looked up on google map what was on the inside of this wall.  It is actually the first station of the cross.  I haven't been inside, and don't need to.  I feel like a photo online and my wall photo is memorable to my heart.  And some how this wall patchwork through the years feels very symbolic to my time here.  To my life. 

This is what this country does...it hold significance in what I feel like is every step.  My friend Sarah said it well when she said "Israel forever ruins you on the significance of the “history” of other countries."  Yep.  When basically everywhere you go there is something significant from the Bible that happened there…. What other history in any other country is so rich and meaningful?

Then in my reading on the 12 disciples I am doing I found out Nathaneal went to India...and Thomas was martyred there.  My Sister in Christ is right now staying right near the church that is the supposed sight of that IN INDIA.... well.  Maybe I have a few more countries to cover for Biblical history ;) 

I don't know how to close a post like this.  So I won't.  I will let it hang and sit and stir and settle in you hopefully like it is still doing in me.  

Love you all.  Miss you.  Grateful for each  of you.  My life is indeed Richer because of you.  Sad that I have 26 more days here, but grateful for each moment to squeeze in what I can.  Praying He will provide some extra funds for  the getting there and entrance fees stuff. Prayers appreciated as I look for a job in Auburn (sort of temporary 6-8 weeks thing...I will explain more on that another day)

Be His. 

And sorry for lack of scripture in this...It's taken me two days to get it posted...figured I won't delay nor make this longer... 




How are you stepping?

I got a text this morning from a #village member. Because of the time change I got it early in the morning and did not see it until I woke. Attached to what they said to me personally was a photo of their devotional from the 9th. (The day they sent the text).


They were saying they thought of me when they read it, and explained why. I read it and I wept.

It has been a difficult few days for me. I’m tired, my heart is weary, and I have felt anything but worthy of this time I have in Israel with My Father, My Savior, and the sweet Spirit. My heart is heavy with burdens of others in my village, in this world, things that He is working out in me.  I look around and see division, evil, the lost who are blinded, hurts and suffering. It makes me long for heaven. It makes me long for the Messiah to return triumphantly and end the drama of this world. But at the same time my prayer is He would delay so that more would come to know him as Savior.

I am grateful for this perspective, especially in this divided place that is Israel. It feels like a game of walking across the ice some days… Muslims, Jews, Christians, Palestinians, some who know the Savior as Lord, some who don’t. You can’t tell where anyone is in their heart. Unrest feels on the brink moment by moment in crowds of people.   I am continually amazed that our Father is NOT UNAWARE of ONE person. He knows each and every heart that walks this earth. He works. The Son intercedes and waits. The Spirit comforts, convicts, speaks truth. Not just here. But the whole. Entire. Planet.

Yet He speaks to me intimately. His child. Compassionate and Gracious (Ex 34). And I am humbled. That He holds my hand. That He shepherds me. That He chose and adopted me (Ephesians 1)  He does the work. I didn’t do a thing to earn it or make it happen.

And because of that I think, how can I NOT do what He asks? Follow Him. Be His. Whether it feels easy or hard. And while the view on the mountain top is beautiful and quiet and breathtaking….getting to the top of the mountain will take your breath away. It will exhaust you. It will be painful. Trust me, I have walked up hills here that do that. MOUNTAINS will really do that to you. Even if you walk circular paths up the mountain, you still get exhausted. Actually that way is further on the mileage meter. It is quite difficult to walk straight up a mountain. We forget that. Sometimes the path that feels like it is going no where is really just the path circling up or around to where He wants us to be. If we chose, we would try to race up the mountain which is dangerous and also stupid.

He knows best. So trust Him.

In the journey rest in walking with Him. Listen to the lessons He speaks. When done with the view continue to listen. Be prepared to do the work in the valley too. He doesn’t operate differently because of locality. It is often us who do. He is consistent and patient. We just need to pay attention to Him in it all.

Whether we are in the waiting that often feels painful and too quiet or rejoicing in what feels like an arrival or the end of the waiting…He is Aware. Psalm 139:2

As we take steps, stop, wait, run, crawl, or simply stand…We do it in Faith. Faith He imparts to us. 2 Corinthians 5:7

May our view wherever we are not be so telescopic, microscopic, or narrow we fail to see the view of right where He has us. Even in darkness He is our light… so that we can see. May we rejoice wherever He has us that He is there. We are never outside of His presence. He said so. John 8:12 Psalm 36:9 Psalm 139:11-12

So I say all this to say, no matter where we may be, may we see His hand. Not what He is doing next. Why He is doing what He is doing. But His hand that supports us. His hand that holds us. The hand of our Father. Our Shepherd who loves and cares for us. Who speaks our name and calls to us. Psalm 73:23 Psalm 139:10

May we quicken our pace with anticipation of what He has for us in our next steps. 

May we all Be His.

are you prepared?

Today is my first day to experience church in Israel. Last week I overslept- I didn’t sleep all night, went to breakfast and laid back down. My alarm went off and I evidently hit “off” instead of “snooze” So waking up at 12:20…well church is at 11:00. My roommate now knows to wake me in case I am sleeping.

I am in a messianic Jewish community. That means many of those here are Jews who have trusted their lives to Christ. I see it as a really interesting life- the depth of the Jewish life perfected if you will by new life in Christ. So church today will feel like church in any Christian setting. But in Israel. With a lot of Messianic Jews :). But that is not really why I am writing today.

As I am getting ready this morning I can’t help but think of a sermon I saw 8-9 times the summer I worked Centrifuge at Carson Newman. The first night of worship the pastor got on stage and begins recounting the schedule of the day, event by event. Toward the end of the schedule recounting a pizza guy walks in…Jon calls to him from the back of the auditorium and says “I’m the guy who ordered the pizza” The guy goes up to the stage, gives him the pizza and a cold Dr. Pepper and takes his money and leaves. Jon continues his recounting the day while eating his pizza and drinking his Dr. Pepper  

The interesting thing is that week by week some kid somewhere would holler out “Give me a piece of pizza!" Or “That is not fair!” The first week it was particularly hurtful that the AC in the auditorium wasn’t on- the computer hadn’t been programed for us to be there on the weekends yet. So that Dr. Pepper was looking good to about 700 of us.

Jon’s response to the outbursts week after week was the same “I prepared before I came into this room, and now I am receiving. Did you?”

His point wasn’t about the pizza, it was about our heart condition. How many of the people in the room took time ahead of walking in that auditorium to prepare their hearts- to later receive? That we may take time to prepare our hearts and minds before we go to worship. And for that lesson I am grateful.

So I have been praying and seeking the Lord this morning about worship. About my day. Praying for a friend that is getting married. For a friend who is sharing at a church tomorrow. For friends settling into life with their newly adopted daughter. For a dude I know running a race- with the goal to do better…to talk about the Lord to his teammates. For my friends waiting for a call to go get their son- and for their son as he waits. I pray for the people in this world who are hurting and don’t know the Savior. For those who know the Savior but struggle to trust Him day by day. So many needs in this world.  I pray for the Holy Spirit to meet us as we gather corporately.  For truth to be spoken and lives to be changed. For people to leave more in love with Him than when they entered. 

I want to go to worship this morning and see Him move…because I expected it.   To hear the Holy Spirit speak…because I (we) asked for it. To see lives change because of the truth of His word…because I asked for it to be spoken boldly in love today. To the glory of the Father. I want to be prepared.

We don’t have a formal place to go to pray like my friend’s church does…I love that they do have a room to gather and pray. There is something about the quiet of a room of hearts listening and praying that feels like heaven. There is something about hearing someone pray the same thing you were just praying…confirmation I guess that maybe I am hearing Him today! Haha If your church has such an opportunity- take it. If it doesn’t, be sure to create that space in your morning. Worship isn’t just about what we receive, but corporately what He does. I want to be mindful not just for me, but for others…and the joy of seeing Him work around the room if you will.

So I pray. Because I can. Because it is an honor to stand before the Lord and bring people to the throne. Because He tells us too. Because it is what love does. And I want to be about Him and His love.

May you see Him new today (and Sunday when you all go to church :)

Be His.

The story, with the back story, of the story of, well. Him.

The difficult thing about having a blog is somehow writing what you really are thinking, explaining it, and hoping that somehow it makes sense yet doesn't make anyone think poorly of you, get mad at you, or think you are crazy by the end of it. I want to write about my recent trip to New York, but in order to do that well I have to tell the backstory.  In any good story, there is always a back story to set the tone.  This back story doesn't exactly give me good feelings and probably won't give you warm fuzzies...but hang with me.  There is a reason I am saying all this. 

I have a bucket list.  I have mentioned it before on the blog perhaps.  For those of you who don't know it.... It was this:

Brooklyn Tabernacle Tuesday Prayer Service
Photo with Aubie (Yeah. I have taken plenty of photos of my people with Aubie..never one of myself WITH Him)
Grand Canyon
Go inside the Statue of Liberty 
Spend a night and day near water that is cobalt blue or crystal clear....preferrably in one of those huts with a glass window in the floor. 
Get my friends together for a weekend, so they can know each other and I can celebrate His goodness to me through them together. For once have them all in the same place and they can see how awesome they each are and hopefully like each other just a touch of how much I love them.
I recently added "Go to Acre" on my list since moving back to Auburn. 

I have checked off Acre. IMG_7808
 Aubie, IMG_7736
and this week particular week, Brooklyn Tabernacle and Liberty  were on my list to be checked off. 

When I was in college, Seminary or somewhere along the line I heard about Brooklyn Tabernacle Church,  but I never got to go on my trips to NYC.   Long stories, but I have been to the Statue of Liberty multiple times, but never got to go inside of the statue. So I decided in March that I would just make plans and dgo. If no one could go, I would just go alone.  I had enough Southwest points and booked so early that the ticket was free.  I asked several folks if they could go.  They couldn't so I went ahead with plans to get those items on my bucket list checked off. 

I was going to go on Tuesday morning and come back late Wednesday. Cheaper ticket, and only one hotel night.  I planned it for July 25-26.  My Birthday is July 24.  I thought it would be a good way to start off my 44th year (I turned 43....so this is my actual 44th year of life :) 

The hard part of the back story... My birthday was Monday.  I really don't like my birthday.  I haven't in a long time. Let me explain why, and hopefully you will understand where I am coming from... 

My Momma was one of those Betty Crocker meets Martha Stewart types.  I think because she enjoyed it and also out of necessity.  We didn't always have a lot of money to do a lot of things.  She did homecooking, sewed most of our dresses, made do with what we had.  Every birthday she would make our birthday cakes, themed with something we liked.  IMG_0230
My cakes varied from Holly Hobbie to Big Bird and Cookie Monster to PacMan and somewhere along the line I decided I loved Great American Cookie Cake..all chocolate Icing please.  So that is how we went except the one year I was in trouble and didn't get a birthday (another story for another day). 

My 24th birthday my Mom was very sick, and we even got hospice on board that week and shopped for funeral arrangements.... We knew she wasn't doing well.  But she made sure that I got my cookie cake, even though she wasn't eating much, we gathered in her room and the Happy Birthday happened.  That was the last birthday I had with my Mom.  Mine was the last birthday she celebrated before she died 12 days later. 

So a lot of the time my birthday feels hard. And even lonely. 

The next year I was in Fort Worth and had just returned with the kids from camp...I didn't really know many people in FTW.  And pre facebook if people didn't know it was your birthday and you didn't mention it, they never knew.  From what I remember I asked a girl I kinda was getting to know if she wanted to go to dinner.  I don't even remember if I told her it was my birthday.  I do remember that week at camp getting emotional and bawling on one of the Fuge staff over it all...In God's kindness it was a good day overall dinner and hanging out with a future bestie. No cake or cards or gifts that I can recall.  But it was ok. 

The next four years I was working for Centrifuge so birthdays were work days and usually the whole camp knew.  One of those summers a couple sweet friends celebrated birthday week and another camp summer my birthday was actually my first full day in NY and I spent it running around town with my friend Buzz- ended with Phantom of the Opera and doughnuts in a hotel room with my team. My family sent cards and gave the shout outs but life just felt very different with location and folks always seeming to be different year to year.

When I moved to Auburn there were lunches with coworkers and dinner with my parents. Because of life stage and being single my birthday turned into inviting people "out to eat" or "come over to hang out at the house and we will have burgers" Because there isn't the typical husband and kids to make much of you when your calendar flips to turn you a year older. My last birthday in the US before I moved to Honduras I hijacked Sister Girl for a day in Birmingham followed by "Hey everybody let's get together at Laredos" and I got the cookie cake..because I wanted to eat it and I knew it would be there if I got it.  James actually got one too, she knew it was my birthday and wanted to make sure I had it.  I really just want my birthday to be about hanging out with my people...but if I didn't move to make it happen I usually ended up at home doing nothing. No celebration or hoo ha, quiet and yep. Alone-Ish. 

Don't get me wrong- there were small gatherings and ridiculousness like Sarah being obnoxious about it.  There have been yearly Happy Birthday Videos and the stellar cards (I still have that "The Office" Card Barbara.  Good call). I am grateful for my life and what I have.  But birthdays always feel hard.  

In Honduras there were teams who found out it was my birthday and blessed me with cards and rice krispy "cake" and my kids usually were completely obnoxious with the eggs and flour. But I always felt at a distance about my birthday, realizing for a lot of my kids a big deal wasn't made of them, so I was really ok with not a lot being made of mine. I don't like the singing Happy Birthday thing...I really just want to be with my people more than anything.   My 40th birthday was weird. Well intentioned but really not at all what I wanted. (I wanted pizza or Chinese. I got a random buffet at a Honduran restaurant that was really quite... no bueno). 
So coming back to the US felt weird after all that, back to what I thought I knew and comfortable with...but I have found to be so different. I anticipated Lots of time with friends. Birthday celebrations for and with my friends. Good convos about all the things I haven't gotten to talk about... this is what I have missed over the past 4 years. What I have found is disconnection and a lot of alone time, isolation. I feel like I came home from college and everyone has moved or moved on. I don't fit or feel at home in Auburn. I've found what has felt like loss and disappointment. Grateful for where I am. But really quite opposite of what I expected and hoped for in my return to "regular life."

So Birthday 2017 was different.  Quiet. Stuck in traffic in ATL due to a gas truck turnover is how my birthday officially started.  Went to work. No cake. No cards. No gifts.  Homecooked meal with my Halls and packing for NYC that night. .  Facebook greetings, some texts and the annual sing o gram video message from a #village fam. And as much as I tried to prepare myself for that particular day...it still was hard. Being single feels amplified on a birthday that felt like Monday did. It echoed loudly the empty feeling that 8 months in Auburn have felt like to me.

So Tuesday morning predawn I found myself driving to ATL to catch a flight to NY.  When I wasn't asleep on the flight I was crying.  I am sure if the lights were on in the plane they woulda wondered who died.  I felt alone and sort of forgotten...and on my way to a city with a billion people. By myself.  Not at all feeling what I thought I would feel this day when I booked the ticket 4 months before.

This is what is hard...how do you explain- you feel lonely without it sounding like a pity party and selfish?  How do you talk about real feelings when everyone has a hard time with the stage of life they find themselves?  Because I don't know how to bring it up, talk about it....for weeks, even with my closest friends I have said nothing.  I felt I lost the community I had before I went to Honduras, things have changed so much, and all this felt amplified on my birthday.  I felt deflated and defeated. Forgotten and alone on that plane.

So when I got to New York I checked in to my hotel room and headed to the Met (Metropolitan Museum of Art) to go see my suit of armor.  The short version of this story is that I took a photo of a suit of armor years ago on a NY trip...and the Lord used it to teach me about our armor- Ephesians 6.  It has a dent in it's breastplate on the front  that was intentionally left there when it was made. Basically He is our defense...our armor is battle tested and trustworthy.  Breastplate of Righteousness is His blood shed for us.  I will have to work on a blog post on that.  If I have done one before I can't find it.   IMG_7982

I walked into armor hall and took a photo of the armor and of the sign (I previously did not take a photo of the details for the armor and have regretted it for years).  I walked off and decided to wander around the museum some more, but I felt like I needed to take time to go back to my armor.  I went back and actually read the info on the armor.  I realized it said that there is a dent in the back of the armor (this particular armor was fired at by a pistol and the dent would be left so show the future armor wearer that it was trustworthy).  I am not sure why It hit me like it did, but when I realized the armor had not just a dent in the front but in the back I wanted to lean on the glass case and cry.  I could only think "He not only goes with me... in front, He goes behind- He guards me in such a protected and sure way.  His death and victory over death and sin by His resurrection is the dent if you will that proves He is trust worthy.  What better guarantee can you find anywhere that is so trustworthy?

I took a photo of it and as I walked around the museum it was as if a light had come, the heaviness was lifted...and the loneliness I had felt so strongly broke.  As I went I was texting the random thoughts to my friend and photos of things I was struck by as beautiful.  He was just reminding me for the thousandth time that He is aware of me and my needs and I can trust Him.

That afternoon I went to a cathedral which is another story...but it felt empty after the Met. Irony of ironies... a church feeling devoid of Jesus. Lots of other things that really had nothing to do with the God I know.  I finished up there and headed to Brooklyn to eat dinner somewhere before prayer service at Brooklyn Tabernacle.  

I saw on my google map of Brooklyn Shake Shack so I went there.  I ordered and sat down in the bar window next to a lady who was cleaning up her spot while she waited on her food.  As I sat there I kept thinking I need to ask her if she lives around here.  She ended up asking if I could guard her spot when she went to get her food.  After I got mine I asked her if she lived around in Brooklyn.  Keep in mind I DON'T TALK TO STRANGERS.  It is weird, awkward, and I NEVER DO IT.  And here I am TALKING TO A STRANGER. IN BROOKLYN, NY.  For the Love. 

Turns out she lives in Long Island like over an hour away.  But she used to live in Brooklyn for years.  She said she went to church near the Shake Shack....yep Brooklyn Tabernacle.  She was a member way back in the day even before they were in the building they occupy now. So I laughed and said "Of COURSE YOU DO" in my head.  I ended up explaining that Prayer Service is on my bucket list.  She is on the Brooklyn Tabernacle prayer team (Of COURSE she is!) and drives in 3 times a week for Church, her prayer time in the prayer room, and Prayer service.  I talked about my life a bit and she was so excited that I was there.  She said She was going to take me, introduce me to people, and she would GET ME TO MEET THE PASTOR.  Dude.  Really? I feel like she was almost more excited to meet me, and hear my crazy life story.  She kept saying "The Lord is speaking to me so much through you right now!" Which just felt crazy, because I was just telling her what the Father has done in my life. 

So here I am thinking I am going to Brooklyn Tabernacle, alone, sitting in a room full of people, awkward and feeling isolated while surrounded by people.  And Instead the King of the Universe has sent me a friend that literally as we walked into the church is not only introducing me to folks, she is asking if I have any questions or need anything... 

Prayer service was great.  I loved the worship, the praying, the encouragement of being in a body of believers- sisters and brothers that just were there to praise the Lord and pray.  Brenda kept introducing me to everyone as "My missionary friend that lived in Honduras from Alabama" which just made me laugh.  It was a blessing to pray with her for prayer needs we were given, and the missionary couple residing in Africa that shared during the service.  After service Brenda bee lined me to Pastor Cymbala to introduce me.  It was all too crazy to be real.  But it was His plan.  

I found out the night before that BethAnn (A girl who used to live in Auburn) had moved to NYC in November and she was free to come meet me.  So she came during the service and met us right after.  Brenda was going "to be my personal uber so I didn't ride the train!" (which would have meant an extra 45 minutes each way to her.)  Because BethAnn was with me she said we would be ok and we headed out.   IMG_7903

BethAnn and I got to catch up about our crazy lives.  She had been in CA then moved to NYC and God just had to work out all kinds of details to get her to where she was that day.  It was awesome to get to spend time with her.  

I could go on to talk about how I got to talk to my bestie on the phone for a minute about how crazy it was that God was so sweet to me to send me a friend to go to prayer with...who was on the prayer team and I got to sit up front and meet the pastor.  I could talk about how I got to talk to my kid for awhile- she broke up with her boyfriend and I was so proud of her...who she is  growing as a child of God.  I could talk about my trip to Lady Liberty and going inside of her finally.  The phone convo I had with my bestie about what He is doing in both of us.  How I do not know my plans after Israel but I am trusting Him to show me.  I could talk about my time at the 9/11 Museum and Memorial. The lessons learned as I went to the transit museum, riding through the subway, sitting in Trinity Church as He spoke through Psalm 20 & 21 as I sat there and just "happened" to flip to that very page.   I could talk about the peace and safety that He had shown me the day before. How every where I went He overwhelmed me with the almost tangible reminder of His presence.  Of Him.   I could stumble through trying to explain how He just kept speaking to my heart about all the things that hurt so much. 

But those are hard things to talk about.  How do you explain things that are intangible but life changing that He does in your heart?  I still don't know. I just know that the Father showed up that day in The Met, made His presence known to me, showed me truth I needed to see again, and just kept pouring out his Mercy and Grace to me as I went through that day.  Wednesday I still didn't have all the words and thoughts processed as  I fumbled through a phone convo with my bestie on Liberty Island.  But that worked out  because when we talk only about a third of the words that are in my heart actually come out and she gets it... I found myself saying things that were true in my heart that I was just realizing as I said them.  Saying dangerous things that He is working out for my good and His glory.  I said something and her reply was "I didn't know you were considering that."  My response was- "Well, it's something that really just became real to me. So yes.  Sounds like I am."  Because this is how He works things out in us.  Sometimes in a non linear way.  But always very real. 

So here is what I want to say.  Life has been very difficult.  I have experienced a lot of circumstances and expectations that just were not in my head when I flew back to the US in November   A lot of alone, quiet days and nights.  A lot of heartache and loss I did not expect to experience.  I miss my kids.  I miss the ministry, talking about Jesus in multiple contexts (with my kids, with teams, with volunteers and some staff).  I expected to settle into my job, my church, get a house, and find those things that give stability in our day to day world. In coming back to the states I didn't have a handbook or any hints on how to leave a life behind and segue into a new one.  So I have just had to fumble through not knowing really how to process or talk about it all.  But what I have found is that in the hard and weird lesson, it has brought me closer to Him. 
I have found that in the times that feel unexplainable His presence is constant and His love unrelenting. When nothing else seems certain, He is. 

I share all of this because I think we all experience things that are hard.  We often don't know how to talk about them.  Sometimes we just talk about the hard things, then don't talk about the things that He works out in our hearts.  You may have followed along my journey and seen the bloggable moments.  The instagram pieces and twitter feed of what my life has looked like.  Those things are easy to share- the somewhat tangible moments that are events, places, or people.  But I felt like sharing those things that aren't. Because we all experience them in some way.  And He is in them.  

Does my heart still smart over the "Non Birthday," if you will? Yep
Does Auburn still feel like it is not home? Yep
Do I still feel like I don't fit in in most contexts as a single former missionary female? Yep
Do I know how to talk about it all without crying? Nope
Do I know that He is at work in my heart daily? Absolutely
Do I know that life is hard work, and will be tomorrow? Yep
Do I expect tomorrow to feel easier? Nope
Do I expect some days I cannot run, I cannot fight other than to just stand? Yes.
Do I know that He is with me? Yes
Do I know that He will be tomorrow? Absolutely
Do I know that He has to be enough? Yes
Do I know that life will be hard but heaven is coming and my hope is in Him? Yes
Do I know that all of this is worth it? Yes. 
Because He is in it.  Because He has said it.  Because, well, Just because Him. 

So I tell you this to say, wherever you are, trust Him. He is worthy.  He really does love you. Even when it feels so hard you just want to skip it.  He really is trustworthy.  

He calls us into battle and leads the way.  He doesn't just say "Hey you go there and do that! See ya on the other side"  No, He is with us.  
Because He defeated death...on the cross took our sin and shame, and in victory rose again,  we can trust whatever He says.  Whatever He calls us to.  Even when it feels hard.  His presence that is always there...if we just look, we will see Him.  And He makes it possible.  

I think of Moses multiple times arguing, if you will, with God about his abilities or what He needed to do...and God continually reminded or told him "I will be with you. I AM." Moses was repeatedly reminded by Yahweh that He was with Him, He would go with him. And He was, every step, every moment.  Why would we think that somehow he has changed His mind when He has said the same to us? 
He promises His presence to us.  In case you need proof, here is a list: 
Isaiah 57:15, Acts 17:28, Psalm 139: 7, Exodus 33:14, Psalm 16:11, Jeremiah 29:13, 1 John 4:12, John 15:9, Matthew 28:20, John 14:16 
Just to name a few.  ;)

So keep going.  Keep stepping.  Standing.  Running. Doing what He has called you to.  Trustworthy and True our King and Savior.  Our Father.  
Be His.  
 PS- I DO talk to strangers...in many contexts and for various reasons.  When in leadership roles or with others I am all over it.  But typically when alone I don't so much unless there is a stirring in me to step outside of what feels comfortable...and usually good things come of it. 
Just wanted to clarify that point :) 

"T-Minus 60 days" or "What in the World?"

I check in on Delta to go to Israel in 60 days.  What has felt so far away is suddenly feeling really close. 

The surety I seem to have most days doesn't seem very sure at this moment.  My job will be ending and I will be headed to a country I have never been for 3 months.  Trusting the Father to once again provide what I need.  He always has, but once again I will be in a position to not be able to "do" anything about it. 

I recently asked for people to share on FB the word they thought of when they think of me, or the verses they think of or pray for me.  It's for a quilt project that somewhere in the future I will get done... The answers were humbling. 


The thing is, I don't feel like any of those things right now. I am thankful that any of you may see anything good in me...It is just Him.  Really is, because I really can be a jerk.  I am saying this so that you guys will know...the good things you may see  come with struggle and uncertainty in my heart a lot of days.  I want to put my head on my desk and say "what was I thinking?" I want to fast forward this crazy life straight on to heaven.  I want to have the "surety" of a house, a family in those 4 walls, a job I go to everyday that I really do love (I don't hate my current job...but it's not my long term joy. haha).  

But feelings aren't what we go by.  Feelings will fail you.  Everytime.  

His word.  His word is what we go by.  His Truth.  His certainty.  His plan.  His promise. 

And what He promises is His presence. His love. His grace.  Christ's salvation. 

I just have to surrender control to receive it.  Because the more I try to think I am in control the more out of control life feels.  In order to have peace I have to surrender control, and let Him work. 

I've been reading several books and the theme the past few days has just been pointing back to him.  We look for home- it's in Him.  We look for all these things to make us FEEL better...it's Him. John Owen's described our human dilemma pretty well.  Our indwelling fleshly self/sin wars with God and what He has that is good:

"Keep a constant, humbling sense of the secret aversion to spirituality that lies in our nature.  To see it's effects is a powerful inducement to walk humbly with God.  The fact that, after all the self- disclosures God has made to us, all the kindness we have received from him, all the good he has done us in all things there should be such a heart of unkindness and unbelief still abiding in us as to hate communion with him ought to cast us into the dust and fill us with shame and self loathing all our days! 

What have we found in God in any of our approaches to him, that it should be thus with us? What iniquity have we found in Him? Has he been wilderness to us or a land of darkness (Jeremiah 2:31)" 

(And the best part!!-)

"Did we ever lose anything by drawing near to Him? Have we not rather received all the rest and peace that we have ever had in this way? Is He not the fountain and spring of all our mercies, of everything desirable? Has he not made us welcome at our coming? Have we not received from him more than heart can conceive or tongue express?"

He goes on to say- then why do we not approach Him? Trust Him? Why do we think our ways are better?

He is so good to us, and we doubt Him.  We try to create circumstances that seem better than His... 

And yet He loves us.  He gives to us. 

"Christianity means we get Mercy, God gets Glory, We get Joy, God gets Praise, We get Hope, God gets Honor" John Piper

What a deal! God sets up the universe in such a way that His Glory Praise and Honor would be a function from Him giving us Mercy, Joy, and Hope! 

I'll sum this up by saying this: " The Holy Spirit won't lead you where the Father doesn't want you to be and where the Son won't get glory if you stay." Jackie Hill Perry (Thanks Bu for the #truth tweet) 

So I am going to put my head on my desk and say "Holy Spirit lead where the Father wants me to be and the Son will get glory."  And ask Him to enable me to do so.  For His Glory, Praise, and Honor. And not listen to the feelings that my heart are screaming at me today... 

May we Be His.  Wherever that is.  Wherever we are.  Wherever He is taking us. His. 



This was a blog post I evidently worked on during a week or two in the US after my first 4 months in Honduras. 


There are moments in life where things seem to collide.  Some call it coincidence.  Some call it Karma.  Some call it fate.  I call it the hand or plan of God. 

There are times when there is an undeniable theme in our lives.  Sometimes it is sweet things like grace. Provision. Love.  Sometimes it is Sin. Forgiveness (when you don't want to forgive). Patience. Longsuffering.  We love those lessons that seem like a balm.  But not the ones James speaks about that build up things in us due to trials or because of our sin.  Those we can live without, right?

I shared with you guys about the Cross Centered Life.  It is still a theme.  One that I am learning more about daily.  How to cling to the cross in a new way that is freeing.  Freeing from the junk that distracts my heart and screams that it (or me) are more important.  Freedom from legalism.  From the way that we too often live in- the world's way. 

I found my book "Embracing Obscurity" when I came home and started reading it again yesterday.  I didn't take it to Honduras because I thought surely I wouldn't need to finish that book in Honduras.  There is nothing but obscurity to embrace there.  Oh. So not true.

Since before I left Honduras last week the Holy Spirit has been whispering truths to my heart and shining his Holy Spirit life on sin and just simply the ugly things I have clung to.  And this week with the Cross Centered Life continually before me, comments from friends that love me enough to be honest and not leave me like I am and in reading Embracing Obscurity I realize God is slowly wrecking me.  Breaking me down so He can put me back together whole. 

I am learning I have a long way to go as far as dying to self goes.  So very far.  I would glady hear and obey God's call to go to Let's say "AFrica" than to just let the guy beside me have the right of way when I am impatient and in a hurry. (EO Example)  I am not afraid to do the mundane.  The behind the scenes work. But when it comes to someone infringing on my space, my stuff, my way sometimes I bow up like a small kitten staring down a great dane. Selfishness and Pride. I chose who is "worthy" of my time and sharing His love with. I am a jerk and a hoarder of good things. 

It is not comfortable. It is not easy. I try to hide how I really feel, but He knows. And He loves me and calls me to more, to change. To be like Him. 


Note from June 2017- This is clearly not done...but it seems like something I want to share. Because I still struggle with it.  I am still humbled by seeing how He worked in my life then, how He still does.  How He loves me when I feel unlovable and completely selfish.  But that is His nature.  To love and work out His best in our lives.  For His Glory. So yes, Holy Spirit do that.  

For lack of a blog title... Him. And What's next. Maybe.

4 years ago today I had just started my 3rd week of what would be 3 ½ years of living in Honduras. 7 months ago this week I returned to the US from that life. My anticipation was to return back to the US to settle into normal US life…pay off my car, work on getting out of debt, saving up money, buying a small piece of land and build a little home. I looked forward to lunches with folks, long dinners with people catching up and hearing what the Lord was doing in their worlds. Times back at Auburn Women’s basketball and Softball, times at Stone Mountain with my littles, freezing to death in the air conditioning, and just in general doing what I want because I am not working 21 days in a row with a day off, no car and little money.

I found some of that. But I found my reality would be very different from the expectation (Isn’t it usually?) What I thought was the dream the Lord was handing back to me, long shelved, to build my little house didn’t come to fruition. As time went by I lost the desire. The reality of it didn’t fit my life’s reality. The job I was hired to do transitioned into part of the job I did back at the Arbor years ago. The stress of work radically shifted to a different flavor. Trying to rent a small house for August fell through, twice. Trying to rent my old house, up for sale again for almost a year didn’t happen. I felt the doors closing to what I thought life would be.

The friends I hung out with, now over 4 years ago, have changed. They have moved, moved on to other things, changed churches, had life shifts. Dinners and lunches didn’t happen like I thought. Settling into my life from over 4 years ago didn’t happen. I have changed, life has changed. My expectations weren’t fulfilled like I thought they would.

So I find myself feeling unsettled and uncertain. Asking the Lord over and over again in February and March….what do you want me to do? The only thing that felt certain was the job I am in now will end, and when it does my time at the Arbor will once again end. And I am ok with that. In a venting moment one day after work I said “I would be happy to just go and clean hotel rooms at this point.” To which my friend replied “You can volunteer to do that in Isreal for 3-6 months!” As time went by that just seemed to make sense. In my heart as I prayed I kept thinking and hearing “August” So I made plans for what is next…Isreal.

Application filled out, sent in, approved. Plane ticket looked up….$850 which is half of what it normally is…purchased. Isreal for 3 months.


Somewhere I have never really “wanted” to go. Last December I thought it would be nice to go with my friend Wayne and his tour group. But I had a car to pay off and a new job with no vacation time. And now I am going for 3 months. The irony of my life, headed again to a country that has never been on my radar. Details very unknown (to a planner like me there is a certain amount of anxiety in that.

And I don’t know what is after that. Praying He shows me (He will, but praying He shows me in the timeline I desire. Haha) Praying it will be my dream job of missions/evangelism in a church body. Serving. Talking about Him. Seeing Him at work through people. Seeing lives transformed by Him.

People keep telling me how ________________ my life is. (Crazy, flexible, obedient, cool…pick the word). It is. My life is crazy. If I sit and think about it too long I almost start to hyperventilate.

I have no home. No husband. No boyfriend. No kids. Soon to be no job. In a lot of ways unattached and feeling out of sorts most days. I don’t get to carry the labels that most folks have that define them. I find it hard to chit chat about my life because some days I don’t know what to say about it other than “I am just doing what He says, leads, tells me to do…and no it doesn’t really make sense most days.” And that is hard to chit chat. I don’t have kids to discuss and find common ground with others. I go to work and go home most days. I try to stay home and not spend money on things I don’t need just because I am bored and filling time. I read a lot. I’ve taken up adult color by number…it’s calming kind of like Legos, and I don’t have to think about it. I spend a lot of time with Him. In a lot of ways my life is boring, sprinkled with the random that day to day life holds. But it is where He has me and time and again He tells me to wait. To chill. To be content in Him. To find Him in the struggle of what isn’t.

So for those of you who this is news to, I am sorry. I don’t know how to once again, like over 4 years ago, say I am off to some new unknown. I don’t know how to make sense of that. I don’t know how to say “Will you pray for me? Will you support me? Will you walk along side me?” When I can only say I am going to Israel for 3 months to volunteer at a Messianic Jewish community that has a hotel, conference center and a biblical garden. And I have no idea what I will be doing but serving. And most of the time I can’t even spell Israel correctly.

But what I do know is He is clearly with me. He has continually said over the past month…ME. Just Me. Seek Me. Be with Me. Find Your Home In Me. Find Your Satisfaction In Me. Look to Me. Surrender to Me. Give Me Everything. Die to What You Think You Want or Need and Get What I Have For You. I Am With You. I Am.

And that feels really hard. It feels lonely. But it doesn’t feel alone. Over this past week I have had time to spend with my village in Texas and in Ohio. And repeatedly I weep at the thought I am blessed to live the life I get to live. To get to fall more in love with the Love of My Life. The one I never have to worry will ever leave me. Even though some days it hurts because I long to be with Him. To see Him face to face. To cease the struggle that is this world that is so easily distracted and distracting from the truth. From Him. Spinning to grasp everything but what matters, and do the things that are far from eternal. I weep at the thought that I cannot imagine life any other way. Even in the hard and the not making sense and the longing for the hope that is heaven, eternity with Him…there is a rest in my heart that cannot let go, because I cannot let go of Him. And He will never let go of me.

I’ve been reading about the life of William Wilberforce this week. It is much like the movie Amazing Grace depicts and so much different. Did you know that it took over 40 years for the abolition of slavery to finally pass? That it was voted on 3 days before his death, and they were finalizing the details as He died? So often we look at the tasks of our life and want them to be finished, to get tied up and done in a hurry. We get so frustrated and irritated that it takes longer than we think. But I am reminded again and again that life is a race…and not a sprint type race, but a marathon. And we are called to run in such a way to win the prize, the work being done by Christ, but we are called to work it out in our lives with His guidance. It is not easy, but it is worth it. To do what He has called us to, even if it takes over 40 years to see what we think is the fruit.

I look back over my life and see few things that I’ve been in for more than 4 years. I told Bufanda that my life is like a Hashbrown order at Waffle House- scattered, chunked, smothered, covered…depends on the day. But I guess at the end of it there is something good…I see His hand in every step of the crazy map of my life thus far. And what I thought would look more settled and straightline isn’t happening. So I surrender what I thought it would be back to Him (don’t we all do this over and over in some way in each of our lives?)

I am thankful for those who remind me we run this life thing together. My Coveys in the seemingly last quarter of an adoption journey of their little one. My Millers who are almost to the end of adopting their second little girlie. My Taylors who after years of struggle and waiting brought home their little one. My old folks at work who remind me about how God takes care of our needs. Punctuated by “every day.” Coming from an 89 year old one tends to take that statement with a good bit of credibility. The truth of his word that over and over again calls us to sacrifice. To love. Because He says, because it is best. Because it is worth it…because it makes us more like Him.

So I am grateful for those of you still along for the journey. For those of you who put up with the random that is my life. For letting me ramble about the often lack of clarity that my world looks like in the details. To those of you who pray for me, I would humbly ask that you would continue to do so. To those of you who wish to join me financially again for the next out of country adventure, thank you. To those of you who simply follow along and ask the Lord to keep doing what He does in my life, I’m grateful.

I love you. I pray for you. I cherish you. I love to see how the Lord is working out things in your lives. How you love Him. How you reflect Him. You make me want to be like the Jesus I see in you.

So let’s be after Him. Let’s be His. Because He is the one thing that is no doubt worth it all.

Love shows Up

I recently went to surprise my friend for her 40th birthday. I had planned the trip 4 months before. Because of winter storm jalepeno or whatever it was called, I moved my flight up because of a possible ice snow whatever situation in Atlanta. I had been caught in an ice situation the week before so I didn’t want to relive flying 1000+ miles out of the way to get there.

So I left work earlier than anticipated and flew to Ohio. My flight was delayed, no big. Picked up my rental car- a sweet NEW rental car. Google maps led me astray and on a crazy route until I corrected it… I was on my way to the restaurant she told me she was meeting up with some college friends. But then she wasn’t there.

So I killed some time going to WalMart to pick up necessary items- Dr. Pepper and some yogurt (late night snack). All the while hoping she would be at the restaurant (There were two and I was guessing on the location) and also hoping she drove her car so I would know without going in and looking I found them. I saw her car, parked and even saw her through the window! So I went in to surprise her. I anticipated after the shock wore off a bit they would invite me to stay but I had decided to go to her house and wait. I didn’t know them, and it was their party and I didn’t want to mess with it.

I went in and surprised her- I said Hey and she freaked out and said “What!? Why are you here!!?” I said “It’s your birthday week, why wouldn’t I be!? And I love you!” And basically left and drove to her house.

On the way to her house I started to think about her and her friends and praying for their time together. That it would be encouraging, the gospel would be spoken, and lives would be changed because of it. I also started thinking about why I decided to stop at the restaurant. Well, it was on the way home. And it was way more fun…she never would expect me to show up at TGIFridays on a Thursday night. And I didn't want to sit and wait at home for her without seeing her first. But mostly because it wasn't what she expected. 

My motivation for coming her birthday week was really just to help her however I could and tell her I love her. And it occurred to me that is just what love does- it shows up. I told her that the next night. I just wanted her to know that I loved her, and the Father loves her. And love just shows up. Over the next couple days we had several conversations and it came up in conversations with others about God’s presence and who He is. And How he shows up.  He is present. And rarely it's how we expect it. 

On the way home from Atlanta after my delayed/cancelled flight I was thinking about what “Love showing up” really means. It often costs more than we think it will. In my plan to come I knew her husband was taking her out overnight Sunday night. I kept the kids and had plans to do some things Monday so she wouldn’t have to deal with them before my flight out that afternoon. As Sunday night went, my throat started hurting more and more and by Monday morning I really felt terrible. I could have backed out and texted her and said I can’t do it. But I had committed to it. And love honors commitments. It’s what love does.

I couldn’t help but think of the cost as I left on my delayed flight to Chicago. In Chicago my flight was delayed then cancelled. I could have slept in the airport for 7 hours and caught a flight out but I felt terrible so I got a hotel to spend the night. Then flew out the next morning- missed work and finally got home at 3:30. And then had to drive to Montgomery 30 minutes after I got home then and back to Auburn. Still not feeling so good. So it cost more money (hotel and lost work time), time and energy than I anticipated.

As I drove from Atlanta to Auburn then to Montgomery and back to Auburn I just kept coming to what it means for Love showing up. Love to be present. And how much the Father shows His presence to us. I can’t help but think of the cost it required- Christ coming to the earth, His life, His death, His Victory over death and sin in his resurrected life. That the Holy Spirit has come to us, he is given to us day by day and moment by moment. That Jesus sits at the right hand of the Father and intercedes for us. The cost for all of this, and continues to take.

Sometimes in our preconceived notions we seek to love people. And to love people well, like Jesus. But then things get difficult or hard or messy or cost too much we want to back out. To say it’s not worth it. And I am so very grateful that our Father in heaven didn’t say it’s too hard, it’s not worth it. He didn’t say it and he is still not saying it. Every single day and moment in ways that we don’t always see or even imagine He is still pursuing us.   I am thankful for the way He reveals His presence to me.   Like a bird art display in the Chicago Midway airport, a song on my ipod that reminds me of who He is, the truth he brings. Conversations about my R2D2 carry on that lead to conversations about Him. The way that He provides, humors, and delights. The way he gives us desires of our hearts, because when he placed those desires in our hearts, of course He will fulfill them. Because I asked Him to give me his desires. The way He consistently shows Himself. Because He is love. And love shows up. Even when we don’t always expect it. And usually not in the way we think He will.

I am grateful. I am blessed. I am humbled. Because of His love I have life. I have hope. I have His continual presence. I have just what I need. Because of Him.  

Ephesians 3: 14- 19 For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, 15from whom every family in heaven and on earth derives its name, 16that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with power through His Spirit in the inner man, 17so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; and that you, being rooted and grounded in love, 18may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, 19and to know the love of Christ which surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled up to all the fullness of God.

Be His.