Tuesday, April 20, 2010

This Little Light of Mine......

One of the first songs I learned to sing as a child was called, "This Little Light of Mine."  For those of you who may not be familiar with this particular song, it went something like this,
This little light of mine
I'm gonna let it shine (x3)
Let it shine, Let it shine, Let it shine

There were many verses for this song as well as hand motions and I remember them all to this day.  Lately, there is one particular verse that has stuck out in my mind and well describes life for me in recent months.
Don't let Satan blow it out
I'm gonna let it shine (x3)
Let it shine, Let it shine, Let it shine
Many days, I feel as if my light is so little and insignificant; I fight though with a relentless determination to NOT LET SATAN BLOW MY LIGHT OUT! I have learned the importance of being decided. In the Bible Paul speaks of the fact that our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. I have never felt I truly understood or personally witnessed this verse in my own life until now.  At times, the realms of darkness I have seen and fought against that surrounded the lives of women and little children  have made me want to run.  Yet, there is something greater and more powerful to sustain my heart; the knowledge that the voice that calms the seas, spoke the world into motion, who conquered death and can make the night shine like the day, lives in me.  There is nothing more powerful or greater than my God and because He lives in me, I have power over darkness. I get so excited and re fueled when I begin to think of these things!

Susannah and I spent four days in Nicaragua last week visiting various ministries that were similar to LightForce.  I asked as many questions as I could desiring to learn as much as possible.  Certain stories were hard to take and absolutely heartbreaking but for security purposes I have decided not to share them on this blog.  I also heard beautiful and powerful stories of redemption.  God is good.  We learned to navigate the sections of Nicaragua that were new to us pretty well and the favor that seem to ensue at times was amazing.  Towards the end of our trip we were blessed to stay with Mark and Rusti!  They are an amazing couple who are laying their lives down as missionaries to Nicaragua.  I had the wonderful privilege of staying up very late one night talking with them and hearing their wisdom and insight into situations I had encountered.  Praise God for His people around the world.  Their home, fellowship and hospitality was the perfect ending to an emotionally draining week.

This week, I have been beyond blessed to have Amber as my roommate and she will be here for two whole weeks.  Just in the few days I have come to know her, I have felt so encouraged by her heart and life.  Amber showed up with a heart ready to serve and love on me as well as gifts and an array of talent and wisdom to add.  At one point she gently told me I was going to have to let her love on me a little bit and learn how to receive.  Ha ha, she was right as I have proven to be a slow learner in this department ;)

Today, my Mom and Karen flew in from the States with more gifts, love and hugs.  I feel overwhelmed in a good way!  Tears cloud my vision as I try to type and I cannot even seem to really find the words to describe the depth of gratitude I feel to have these women here with me.  This past month has been the hardest month I have ever experienced since moving to Central America.  This past month has also been full of sweet surprises.  On one of my lowest days, I received a package in the mail from two of the most incredibly thoughtful people.  The package contained my favorite snacks and an assortment of things every girl loves to get and it made me feel normal and not so far from home.  I am so truly humbled.

Below, I have included several pictures taken by Alumbra Photography of the recent children's fiesta and just highlights in general of a trip to a border area.  May God bless all of you who read this blog and pray for us here in Central America.  Thank you so much for supporting LightForce International Ministries.  I pray for those of you Christians reading this that you would remain decided to let your "little light shine", what difference one "little light" can make in the world.

* NOTE  Click on the pictures to see in full.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

It Is Well With My Soul because I'd Rather Have Jesus

In 2 Samuel David makes a statement that he can't give to God that which cost him nothing. Although I had been walking with the Lord for sometime, it wasn't until the summer of 2006 that I truly surrendered my heart, dreams and ideas over to Him and made Him Lord of everything. I told Him, down any road at any cost, I would follow and I truly meant those words. Since that day, there have been seasons that have led me down a path ending at the foot of the cross. Upon arriving at this place, I have had to lay my preferences or desires there and walk away. Knowing that to truly know God and to live for Him, I had to lay it all down; surrender everything.  A friend once told me that God will take us to altar moments, just as He did Abraham with Isaac. In those altar moments, it will not be enough to simply build the altar; it will not be enough to simply lay that "thing" on that altar; but He will require us to raise the dagger and be willing to put to death that very "thing" which appears more important than Him. 

In  following Christ, it is supposed to cost you and me. We all should live with the mindset as David lived.  My altar moments have called for me to move to another country and lay the dream of house, marriage and family in the USA down.  I am asked often by strangers who are simply curious about my life and choices if I just did not want to get married or have children or live in the USA.  I often reply that I believe I will one day have a marriage, family and home, preferably on the mission field. However, at present this is what God has for me and is doing in me.  I have to trust in God, I cannot afford any other option. 

Maybe for those of you reading this, your altar moments have looked nothing like mine.  However, the point is not if yours are similar to mine but rather do you even have them. Does your life lived before Jesus allow for Him to call you to the foot of the cross and lay down that which is held more dear than Him? God cares more about your willingness to lay something down for His name sake than the actual something you laid down.
 On March 26th, 2010 my grandmother, (known to many of us as "Nanny") closed her eyes for the final time and passed away. I received the phone call from my father early that morning informing me of her peaceful death. I wanted so much to be there with her, to hug her one more time and say goodbye.  When the choice came to fly home, I turned it down.  God gave me the option but in my heart I knew I needed to stay.  As painful as the decision was and still is, I do not regret it for one second.  Upon hearing of her death it took me many days to gather my thoughts and challenge myself of the decision to live here and of the cost. 
Thank you to so many of you who sent emails, cards and messages containing your condolences and prayers.  I am one very blessed girl!  
There is much on the agenda this month for Light Force and I am excited!
On the week of the 19th, I will have three awesome women coming to help us conduct the next outreach beyond the border! Amber, from Georgia, will be here for several weeks with me.  Karen, from Kentucky and my home church, will be here a week.  I have known Karen my whole life and it is truly a precious privilege to have her come and to be able to serve alongside her here!  Last but not least, my Mama is coming!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!  She will be here for a week and I am so so excited.  Here I am missing my family but choosing to stay and God rewards that by sending family to me.  The most beautiful part is that He doesn't have to but He chooses to and that concept makes me cry all over again.

I am leaving the lyrics to one of my favorite hymns, which was the last song I sang with my grandmother.
I’d rather have Jesus than silver or gold;
I’d rather be His than have riches untold;
I’d rather have Jesus than houses or lands,
I’d rather be led by His nail pierced hand.

I’d rather have Jesus than men’s applause;
I’d rather be faithful to His dear cause;
I’d rather have Jesus than world-wide fame,
I’d rather be true to His holy name. 

Than to be a king of a vast domain
Or be held in sin’s dread sway,
I’d rather have Jesus than anything
This world affords today.