Sunday, April 17, 2011


Things I know:

  • I've never been to China, but I really like (Americanized) Chinese food.  I've been told, however, to expect to drop 5 pounds when faced with the real Chinese food.
  • I'm a little worried about this jet lag thing.
  • When filling out the teaching in China application, I requested to be an assistant teacher because I have never before taught English to Chinese speaking students in China.  
  • I have no idea what I'm doing.
  • I got an email Friday telling me that I will be a lead teacher.  (My parents think this is just as well seeing as how I enjoy being the boss.)
  • Not only am I a lead teacher, but I'm the lead teacher in a BEGINNER classroom!!  So, chances are, the kids in my class will know a total of...ummm...10 words in English.  (Upon receipt of the aforementioned email, I called my mom with the response of "WHAT WERE THEY THINKING?!".  She jokingly told me to just say everything louder when I'm teaching.  I informed her that I've already tried that technique on my English speaking students.  It doesn't work.)
  • I just spent the last hour on the phone with our camp leaders (who I love already!) trying to wrap my mind around the structure of daily lessons.
  • I now have a completely different set of lesson plans to create.  
  • Even in my shock and uncertainty, God is good.  
  • He planned me being a lead teacher before I even knew I was going to China.  
  • I love Him.  

Happy Birthday, Dad!

Thursday, April 7, 2011

My Testimony

I grew up in the church.  My parents made sure we were there every Sunday.  I sang in the youth choir.  I played in the handbell choir.  I went to Sunday School.  We went on mission trips and choir trips.  We had pot lucks and lock-ins.  We played Capture the Flag and Sardines.  But by the time I graduated high school, I did not really know Jesus.  I knew about Him with my head.  But I did not know Him with my heart.

But the Lord loved me even though I was a sinner and called me to go to school in South Carolina.  In all honesty, I was looking to go to a coast.  I wanted to be a marine biologist and so I would definitely have to leave the land-locked state of Missouri.  How is it then that I ended up in a school in the middle of South Carolina that did not even have a marine biology program and I had changed my major to journalism before I even graduated high school?    

I remember vividly the day that my parents and my sister left me on the front steps of my freshman dorm.  It was the first time in my life that I saw my dad cry.  The memory still brings tears to my eyes!  And while my time in South Carolina was absolutely wonderful, it was absolutely hard.  The Lord thankfully led me to a church -- Shandon Baptist Church.  If you were wondering where Jesus lives, it's at Shandon.  That's where I truly met Jesus for the first time.  That church and the college minister and the college leaders where literally heaven-sent.  And while I was meeting Jesus for the first time, He already knew me.  And unfortunately (but really fortunately) for me, He already knew how sinful my heart was.  And so He began tearing me down.  And it hurt.  It didn't just hurt me, but it hurt my mom who listened helpless on the other end of a telephone 2,000 miles away from her baby who was crying in pain.

But God is so good.  He knew what I needed and where I needed to be in order to do the GOOD work He needed to do.  And then much sooner than I would have chosen, the Lord called me back to Missouri.  I changed my major to music education and transferred to Mizzou where I could get my degree and make the in-state connections I needed as a music educator.

I struggled when I first left Shandon.  After all.....nothing will ever come close to comparing to Shandon Baptist Church.  It was a hard transition.  And it ended up costing me an extra year of school.  It's interesting how very few hours transfer from a journalism degree to a music education degree......

But because of His perfect plan of 5 years of college, I met my second spiritual mentor (the first was in South Carolina) who has become one of my best friends in life -- someone who understands me like virtually no one else can.  I love Him for that.

And now He has me -- in His same perfect plan -- at 29 and single and more fully in love with Him than I have ever been.

My mom said to me tonight that she wishes she had sent me to a Christian college where I would have had more of an opportunity to meet the kind of man that I want to marry (and the kind that she isn't sure actually exists in the single form).

But His plan is perfect.

This time of my life is crazy with grad school and a career change with second grade and now China.  This is the first time in my life when I have literally praised God for not being married and not having a family.  It would be absolutely impossible for me to balance it all.

"But if you were already married you wouldn't have those stresses.  You wouldn't be in grad school or in second grade."

No.  But the baby in my classroom who does not receive love from his mom at home wouldn't be able to  hear me tell him on a regular basis, "I love you.  You know, I love you."  God's plan is perfect.  That baby needs me now.  And I wouldn't be here for him if I were married.

Am I happy about His timeline?  Nope.  Absolutely not.  Am I content in waiting to see the next part of His perfect plan.  Oh, my goodness.  Beyond words.  ABSOLUTELY.

Psalm 37:4 -- "Delight yourself in the Lord, and He will give you the desires of your heart."  

My goal in life is not happiness.  Does the Lord want me to be happy?  YES!  But what He wants more from me is to be holy -- to be set apart.  There are people who I love more than life itself who only want my "happiness."  I, of course, want that, too.  But what I know must come first is my holiness.  I want those people to want me to be holy over being happy.  Struggles and hard times and loneliness  -- it's a part of living in a fallen world.  It's part of the curse of Adam.  

But this I know.

God is good.

God has a plan for my life.

I trust Him with my future.

"For I know the plans I have for you," declare the Lord, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you; plans for hope and a future."  Jeremiah 29:11

Sunday, April 3, 2011

One Is the Loneliest Number

In high school, I was an introvert.  I needed my down time.  My "Lauren Time."  Since buying my house five years ago and living alone most of that time, I've discovered that I need to be around people much more than I used to!  I am still very much a homebody so a lot of the time I do want to be home...just not necessarily by myself.  That's one of the things I'm looking forward to in married life -- just having someone there.  I know, I know.  One of these days I will look back and long for the quiet, lonely weekend that I had this weekend.  But in the present day, it kind of sucks.  

Here are a few tips in ministering to the single folks in your life:

1.  Call them randomly -- especially on weekends or times off work.  If we're busy, we won't answer or we'll call you back.  If we're not, we will SOO appreciate the conversation!!  Even if it's a quick one! It's nice to know someone loves you and is thinking about you even when that someone has five kids running around the house and twenty loads of laundry going.  :-)

2.  Go to their house when you get together.  As the single people, we usually get forced into going to other people's house because of the husband and kid thing.  And that's not to say that I don't absolutely love visiting my married-with-children friends at their place --  but it's really nice to have people time in my own space.

3.  Don't make us plan everything.  Just because we're single doesn't mean we have time to organize everyone's social calendar!  Take a little initiative and plan something for us!  I

All that to say -- this wasn't my favorite weekend ever.  But the weather was beautiful and God is good. Lots more going on between Him and I.....can't wait to share when He allows!