Saturday, February 26, 2011

China On My Mind

I'm going to China.

My honest response to this decision is WHAT??? I'm going to be honest. I have NEVER - I repeat, NEVER - had any interest whatsoever to go to China.


And then one Sunday I was sitting in church when I saw a little blurb in our bulletin about a trip to China to teach conversational English. I thought, "That sounds like a perfect trip for me as a teacher." Regardless of the fact that I have never really cared about China.

I feel like I should back up just a second.......

My church is constantly sending people to Jamaica and El Salvador and every other corner of the world. But the trips are always during the school year when I can't go. Or they've conflicted with grad school. A few months ago the singles pastor announced a trip to Jamaica to do good 'ole manual labor for a week, love on people, and then go home. Sounded like my kind of trip! But it's in October. All teachers know they can't miss so much as a second of school in October because of grade cards and Parent/Teacher conferences. I was bummed about not being able to go because I was really feeling like the Lord wanted me to join my church in one of these trips.

So, back to what I am now affectionately referring to as China Sunday.

I decided to pray about the trip, and as the week progressed I all but forgot about the whole thing. The next Sunday it was in the bulletin again. The deadline was February 15 which was just over a week away. I emailed to get some information about the trip the next day. The China ball started rolling and it just never stopped!

I was pretty much praying NON STOP for an answer.


No answer. As hard as I prayed, as much counsel as I sought, I did not have a clear yes or a clear no.


Honestly, I was looking for a billboard that said in big, bold letters:


Or one that said


I mean, he's God. He could give me a billboard sized answer if He wanted to.

So two days after the deadline, I still didn't have a clear answer. I emailed a friend of mine the night before who had given me this answer:

I would have to say keep walking forward till he gives you a NO......make up your mind to walk until He says otherwise.


I promptly deleted the email while grumbling under my breath as to how I could possibly keep walking forward without a yes or a no. I mean, seriously. Not the response or counsel I was looking for.

So I decided to fast the next day. I'm studying the Biblical practices of prayer and fasting, and so I figured this would be as good a time as any to try it out for myself. So I fasted. All day.

By 4:10 when I walked my students out to the buses, I still didn't have an answer. I was tired. I was discouraged. And I was hungry! A friend of mine who also loves the Lord was divinely sent to come talk to me after school. I'm pretty sure she walked into my room to find me completely dejected with my head on my desk. After talking with her for a while, I heard the Word I needed.

Step out in faith. In the process of going to China, my sole motivation is obedience. If the Lord doesn't want me to be in China, he'll stop me. He won't let it happen. But I'm taking a (scary) step out in faith to be obedient to where I feel He's calling me to go. If God doesn't want me to go, I know I can trust Him to be incredibly clear. (Acts 16)

I laughed out loud at the Word she spoke. It's exactly what my friend emailed me the night before. I just wasn't ready to hear it until I had humbled myself through fasting all day. (Thank you Lord for wise counsel confirmed two times over!)

And then I ate a Tootsie Roll. Not sure how Biblical that is....but I figured I'd received my answer from the Lord so it was okay to try to satiate my hunger a little bit!

So I'm going to China. HOLY COW! It was only after I made the official decision to step out in faith and obedience that I learned some VERY SCARY details of the trip.

1. I might be going alone. At this point I'm the only one from my church that's going. I'll be meeting up with a whole bunch of random people in Atlanta to go to China with.

2. I won't be able to communicate with anyone from home for the entire time I'm gone -- which is almost THREE WEEKS!

This is NOT the kind of trip I had in mind, Lord.

And then he spoke again through my friend Courtney. The truth in her words brought me to tears.

Lauren, I am so excited for you. Excited as in! You can be scared. But I'm not scared for you because I know you'll be ok getting to and from China and while you are there. I feel so certain that this trip is--as you said--not a typical church trip. That His purpose is not necessarily the kids you'll meet or the opportunities to witness that it will provide, but for you to give Him the time and attention He needs to get you all to Himself and let you let Him BE. Be your God, be your parent, be your comfort, be your friend, be the first one you run to when you are scared, the first one you run to when you are thrilled. We all three know (you, me, Him ;) ) how dear and near your family is to you. You love them, but He needs to show you HIMSELF as if you were the only one on earth He came for and is coming back for. You simply cannot let go of them enough here to let Him be all that He is and wants to PROVE He is to you and for you here. If He has to take you to the other side of the world, He will. It's too important for you to learn. I feel very strongly this is preparation for your ability to leave and cleave to a husband in the next season as well.
I don't know that you wanted to hear ANY of that!
But I see so clearly this:
He is jealous for me, Loves like a hurricane, I am a tree,
Bending beneath the weight of his wind and mercy.
When all of a sudden, I am unaware of these afflictions eclipsed by glory,
And I realize just how beautiful You are,
And how great Your affections are for me.

Saturday, February 5, 2011


Sometimes I pray the Lord would grant me amnesia. When an ugly part of my past rears it's ugly head (by means of an email I wasn't anticipating), my heart and mind are immediately taken back to a time when I was not -- and I repeat not -- walking with the Lord. It takes me back to the hurt and the desperation. It takes me back to a time when I felt like God was distant -- not because He chose to be, mind you, but because I was choosing a path that was not of Him. I chose my idol over my God. That is a painful place to go back to. And every time I go back there, I go on emotional overload.

The most recent was about a week ago. Thankfully (and I truly mean thank you, Jesus!) my wonderful and beautiful friend Courtney intervened with an email of her own.

Pastor Phil preached on Joseph. He's one of my favorites. He named his first son FORGET and his second son FRUITFUL. He had to forget his past in order to be fruitful and fulfilled in his present and future. Phil said God's not going to strike you with amnesia of your mind, but he can take the emotion out of the memories and let your heart be freed from the bondage and burden of bitterness.

Satan would LOOOOOOOOOOOOVE for you to be a slave to those emotions you felt again today. Don't help him! Ask God to walk you through them as they come up and let HIM point out why He's said NO.
I believe more this night than I ever have before that your singleness is a spiritual fight. You want something so godly that will witness and minister to many. The enemy doesn't want that. He's using pawns of your past.

I have never before considered my singleness to be a spiritual fight. But the moment I read Courtney's words, I knew she was right. It is a spiritual fight for me -- in so many ways! Satan wants me to live in the sin, the bitterness, the guilt and the loneliness. And as long as I'm living there, I am not truly able to commune with Jesus.

I've felt for the last semester that the Lord has been speaking a very specific Word to my heart. The second I heard Him speak, I grabbed on to His message. But as the days and weeks and months have gone by I've begun to wonder if that Word was from Him or if it was just me trying to make myself feel better. It's the Type A, over-analytical thing coming out. Anyone relate??

I'm memorizing scripture with Beth Moore's scripture memory team this year. I've spent the last month focused on Jeremiah and the Lord's promises found in that book. While I may be doubting the Word he revealed to me those months ago, He has His written Word available for me any time of the day.

"For I know the plans I have for you," declares the Lord, "Plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart."
Jeremiah 29:11-13

Father, I thank you for Your promises. And I thank you for a specific and personal Word you've given to me. Jesus, while I know you won't strike me down with amnesia (as much as I would love that!), I pray that you would strip the memories of emotion. Help me to live in victory and glory and not in the wake of sin. Thank you, Jesus, for friends who speak Truth!

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Is It Summer Yet?

This is the end of snow day #2 this week and we're off again tomorrow.  Kansas City got hit hard by this latest storm.  Honestly, we've been hit hard by every storm this year!  I think tomorrow is our 8th snow day this year -- and they've all ben in the months of January and February!  Needless to say, the kids aren't learning much  when we're not at school and I'm starting to get restless!!  Normally I love snow days, but I'm running out of things to do. Plus, it's just not that much fun when it's just me and the cats.  Snow days would be so much more enjoyable if there were a hubby coming home at the end of it!!  :-)

So, as not exciting as it has been,  here is snow day #2 this week.  PS.....there's a reason I'm not in any of the pics.  No makeup and still in my pjs.  Yup.  It's a snow day!

So here's the snow.  We got about a foot last night and the snow drifts were pretty crazy.  Here's my back porch.

Ginger was really interested in everything going on outside this morning.  She can barely see over the snow drift against the sliding glass door!

I worked on lesson plans this morning.  This is pretty much where the cats sit all the time.  One at my head, one at my feet.

I figured out how to keep the cats off my treadmill during the day.  Duh, right?

I tormented Ginger with the DVD screen saver deal.

After a couple of movies, vacuuming, cleaning the kitchen floor, etc, etc, I was pretty much out of things to do for the day.  So....I made banana bread.  I mean, why not?

After a day like that, who wouldn't want to be me, right? :-)  Here's to hoping tomorrow is more exciting!  I finally got my driveway cleared so I won't be hanging around the house tomorrow!