Anchor

Anchor: a reliable or principal support

: something that serves to hold an object firmly.

This is my primary word for 2019, but I couldn’t narrow it down to just one.

The other word that goes hand in hand with “anchor” is “content”. The two words

together fit what I desire for this next year. Recently, I was challenged that I’m exactly

where God wants me and that He has put people in my life that are meant to be there.

When I think of “anchor”, I think of a ship’s anchor. The thing about that is the anchor locks

the ship down temporarily. It stabilizes it for the time being so the sailors can do what they need to.

When it’s done in that part of the ocean, it pulls up anchor and sets sail again.

This is how I view this year. It’s not a coincidence that I’m back in Mansfield. I don’t know how long

I will be anchored here, but I’m (for the first time) excited to put down roots in the corner of th world

God has placed me in. It warms my soul that the barista at the local coffee shop knows my name.

That I can see the littles outside of school and they get excited that they saw me. Here’s a few practical

things to help me stay anchored and content in my corner of the world.

  • Be present-truly present-right where I am.

If I’m at school, I’ll be all at school-my mind won’t be focused on what’s next. This exact moment in

time will come around again, so I need to give my all to the littles and teachers. If I’m with my small

group, I need to be all with them. Wherever I am, I need to be all there so I can put down roots

effectively. Multi-tasking is nice, but sometimes people want/need your full attention. I never want

anybody to feel less of a priority because they don’t have my full attention.

  • Uncertainty is alright.

I want to have everything figured out now. I want to know everything that could possibly go wrong

and have a backup plan in case it does. I rarely take chances because I don’t know the ending. If I

desire to put down roots and anchor myself here for the time being, I have to embrace the

uncertainty-of a job, of dating, of figuring out this season. I have some control over those things, but

nothing will ever be without uncertainty. I need to stop living in fear of uncertainty, and learn to see the

possibilities laid out in front of me. Just learn to take it one day at a time.

  • Take opportunities as they come.

When I was viewing everything as temporary, I turned down a lot of opportunities because I didn’t

want to commit to something when I only planned on staying here temporarily. Now that I’m working

and looking to put down roots, the opportunities are not as scary. I’m figuring out more of my place

in the world.

  • Be intentional with the people God has placed in my circle of influence.

Part of being anchored and putting down roots is the people alongside you. God has called me to this

place and put people in my life. I desire as I learn to be content to be intentional with those walking to my

left or right. Even those walking the journey behind me have a story to tell, they just need someone to listen.

Honestly, I’m thinking of my small group girls. I saw one at church today. Her face brightened up with a huge

smile when she saw me. God placed me as a leader in her life. I’m not able to be a faithful leader in her life

and the lives of the other girls without the strength of God.

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There’s Always Room for One More

There’s always room for one more.

This was a saying I heard all the time growing up. In Nigeria, there was always room for one more in the car and our lives.

In Haiti, I encountered this thought  process again as we fit as many people as we could into transportation to get from place to place. Personal space wasn’t really a thing, to be honest.

Now we kind of laugh at this because in our culture,  personal space is a big deal and time is a commodity that can be spent. But, in thinking about it, it really speaks to a deeper, beautiful thing.

There’s always room for one more.

No one is excluded. Everyone is welcome.

I think Jesus thought that way. No one was excluded from His friendship. No one unworthy of His time and energy.

This mentality is one I want to cultivate in my heart. There’s always room for one more-in my heart and life.

I think western society has cultivate this image of scarcity. It’s weird to say because we have so much excess, but we have cultivated-unconsciously-this idea that we don’t have time and space. This idea that we have to plan for exactly how many people are coming so we don’t run out. This idea that if someone is better at something or prettier, than we are less. The idea that there’s not enough of anything to go around.

I want to cultivate the mentality for more in myself.

Just because someone has something that I don’t doesn’t mean there is not enough of that thing to go around, or that God is withholding some blessing from my life, it just means it’s not my time to acquire that thing.

I want to embrace this idea that there is always room for people in our hearts. Some people camp out in your heart for a while, and some just stopped by on their way to somewhere else, but that doesn’t mean we should stopped making room for others.

There’s is always room for one more. There’s room around the table for you so pull up a chair and sit for awhile. Richness is found in relationship whether the people are in our life for awhile or just for a season.

There’s always room for one more.

Surrendering Graciously

Surrendering graciously.

That’s an oxymoron in my life. Often when God asks me to surrender things, I give it up kicking and screaming. I try to take it back

soon after I give it up.

In this season, I’ve had to surrender some things like my five year plan. I mean, it got thrown far out the window.

My word for this year was expectation. Within that word, I couldn’t really expect God to move while still holding on to my plans.

I tried though.

Oh I tried.

This year started out with me struggling to understand why certain things happened and what the purpose was of moving forward if

it wasn’t going get me to where I wanted to be. I held onto some dreams like a drowning person would clutch a lifeboat. It wasn’t

until I gave myself permission to ask the questions-Is God good? Does he have good plans in store for me?-that I really started to let

go of things. It was kinda a forced surrender because it needed to happen and life was picking up speed.

I let go of my ambitions to return to floor nursing.

I let go of my ambitions to live overseas long-term.

And many more ambitions.

I surrendered them knowing they might not happen. I’m learning it’s hard to let go of things graciously but that’s what I’m striving to do.

Albeit, it kind of helped that so many ambitions were ripped from my hands, so I had few options but to let go.

It’s taken 10 months, but I’m finally at the place where I’m not forcing things to happen.

I’m kind of just willing to listen, hands open, to what God has for me next.

A verse that has been ruminating in my mind the last couple of months is Ps. 25:1 which says, “In you, Lord my God, I put my trust.” This

verse just captures the sense of what David was going through. I’m sure he was tempted to fight against God multiple times, but

instead of being antagonist towards God, he says matter-of-factly “In you, I put my trust.”

I’m striving to do that.

I don’t know what your story is, or what is that thing that you can’t seem to quite let go.

Let go.

Simply unwrap your fingers from it.

I don’t know your story, but I know how sweetly God has redeemed and repurposed the dreams and ambitions I let go.

Just tonight one of my girls said, “if it wasn’t for your accident, you wouldn’t be here.”

I was taken aback by her wisdom. She was right. If my life had gone on with my terms-my 5 year plan-I wouldn’t be right here, right now.

I would be missing out on a lot.

I like this version of my life. I like this version of me. I’m going to keep striving to surrender my dreams and ambitions to God graciously.

He truly has a good plan in store for me. It may not look anything like the 5 year plan I had but I think it’s better.

So here I am, striving to surrender graciously in my corner of the world that God has placed me in.

Ordinary Places

Ordinary.

That word just makes me flinch. I’ve tried my whole 24 years not to be ordinary, boring, and unexciting.

Don’t lie and tell me you haven’t kinda always combined ordinary with boring.

I just finished reading Shannan Martin’s new book, The Ministry of Ordinary Places. I started reading it because I simply love Shannon Martin and her heart, but I was also curious. In my mind, ministry and ordinary don’t go hand in hand.

Then I started it.

From the introduction, she had me hooked:

“I always thought being called by God was a rare and special thing that happened to only a slim percentage of unlucky people….”

She writes, “Whenever (“the call”) popped up, I kindly reminded God that I’m not that kind of woman. I’m indoorsy, with a sensitive gag

reflex and a mortal phobia of outhouses. I’m not the best choice for a day trip to a state park, much less a mission field”.

I sympathize with her, but I feel the opposite way. I feel the call to go, but circumstances have kept me from going to the mission field

long-term. I am much more comfortable on the mission field than I am in suburban America.

This idea of ordinary places mattering and staying vs going is not a new dilemma in my life. I feel like it’s a constant battle to be content.

Recently, I found peace in being right here (Mansfield), right now. Shannan Martin just drove the feeling home into my heart with these words:

“God got busy shrinking the world as I knew it down to a pinhole, one solitary shaft of light. ‘The souls exists and is built entirely out of

attentiveness,’ wrote Mary Oliver. Rather than feeling stuck in a problem-sodden world I would never be able to fix, God was caring for my soul

by pointing me towards my corner of it and asking me to believe it was enough”.

That challenged me. Was it enough? Could it be enough? If I were to stay in America, in Mansfield, Ohio, for the rest of my life, would that be enough?

I just got back from a JH retreat. I’m a small group leader for 6th grade girls.

It was exhausting and life-giving all rolled into one. They have SO much energy! It’s like most middle schoolers are the energizer bunny with no

off switch. I drank A LOT of coffee that weekend, but I had that in the back of my head.

If you were to stay, right here, in Mansfield, for the rest of your life, would that be enough? Would listening, loving, and pointing these girls toward

Me be enough? It’s not as extraordinary as helping starving orphans in Mexico or loving on kids in Africa.

Would this-sacrificing sleep to love on a girl who may not know what that looks like-be enough?

Would simply giving a hug and smiling to a girl who may not have had a great day be enough?

Would complimenting a smile or anything she does well to a girl who never feels like she’s good enough be enough?

These thoughts were going through my head this weekend.

I say I’m content and at peace with staying here-right here-indefinitely, but would that be enough?

I really struggled with that, but then I held a girl and she was holding back tears. I looked in her sweet face and I got a glimpse of the fact that

she had the weight of the world on her shoulders. She was hugging me like I was her lifeline.

That broke me.

I remember what it was like to be in middle school, everything is so confusing-so hard.

Hugging her tightly, wishing I could carry part of her burden, I realized I’m starting to believe this is enough.

This life of “ordinary” is enough.

“In a world that pushes us toward bigger, better, more costly and refined, seeing the humble as radiant is an act of holy resistance.

Jesus dealt in seeds and sails. He spoke through dust and sermonized in spit. Set against a backdrop of faithlessness, lawlessness,

and low-grade despair, he brought faith and healing through the overlooked, unspectacular elements of everyday life. He’s right here, in

every dull, dusty corner, and even more in every one of us bumbling, regular, milk-mustached kids trying to masquerade as big shots. This is

why we need him near, and why it matters that we stick together”.

When I read that the second time (yes I read the book twice in two days), it stuck with me.

This is my corner of the world.

MCS. These girls. My bible study. Mansfield.

This is my corner of the world.

These are my people.

My heart is still in Ukraine and scattered all over this world, but this is my corner of the world right now.

Holding that girl in my arms, and just sitting on the sidewalk with her, I started to believe that this is enough.

So if you need me, I’ll be circled around a bonfire loving people in my corner of the world.

Fall Favorites

Fall is my favorite season.

Here are a few of my favorite things that make fall extra special in my mind.

  • Pumpkin Spice Chai

I didn’t want to get a pumpkin spice latte on precept. I didn’t want to fall into the stereotype of “that girl”- you know what i’m talking about. Sometimes, I do things that fall into that stereotype unashamedly but this one wasn’t a high priority. The barista ended up convincing me to try the chai.

OH MY GOODNESS.

My life changed at that moment by creating my new “fall” drink. It’s like a pumpkin pie in a cup.

  • All the Colors!

One of my favorite things about fall is all the colors. Brown. Green. Red. Burgundy. Yellow. Orange. As the leaves start to change it’s like the trees are on fire with colors. I mean, there are the typical colors and then there are every shape imaginable of those colors. It’s like God created the world to put on one last show before it goes into hibernation.

  • Coffee. Cider. Chai.

All the hot drinks. The weather is just getting cold enough that hot drinks are necessary but warm enough that you can still be outside in a light jacket. Or you can cuddle up with a book, a hot drink, and a blanket by a fire and the world feels right.

  • Bonfires.

There is no better feeling than curling up with a blanket and cup of coffee or cider by a fire. The fire can be inside or outside. You can curl up with a book or maybe some friends are by the fire with you and you talk-like really talk about the hard and holy things. There is nothing more comforting than knowing you are not alone. I think camaraderie over hot drinks and around fires is one of the best types.

  • Blanket Scarves and Sweaters.

Oh I wait all year to wear blanket scarves. I mean, I just love wearing scarves so I’ll wear them regardless of the season, but blanket scarves are thicker so they won’t work in most other seasons because it gets too warm. This year though I wore on hoping for cooler weather. It worked! The next day was perfect weather to wear one. Sweaters. Enough said. Fall means sweaters.

  • Josh Garrels.

Josh Garrels and other acoustic mellow artists are all I listen to in this season. For some reason, they speak to my soul and provide the perfect soundtrack to falling leaves and conversation.

There are many more things that I love about fall but here’s a few of my favorites.

Ukraine

Bear with me as I’m processing the greatest and probably the hardest two weeks of my life.

  1. Language barriers aren’t everything but they are important. There were several times during the two weeks I was in Ukraine that someone just started rattling off in Russian and there was no translator nearby. I would just kinda shrug my shoulders and they would wander off to find someone that could actually help them. Or the time when kids were jumping on the trampoline and they were making me nervous but I couldn’t tell them to stop, I couldn’t see anyone nearby, and I felt like I couldn’t leave. But there were also moments also moments with a kid that it wasn’t necessary to both speak the same language. I would just hold their hand or hold them in my arms and the world felt right. My favorite thing was worship though. Some of the songs had English counterparts so some people were singing in English, and others in Ukrainian/Russian. God could understand it all. There’s really no language barrier when it come to God.
  2. Smiles mean a lot. My favorite thing, hands down, was taking pictures of the kids smiling. If I got a good one, I would show it to the mom and watch their face just light up. Their child was happy, felt safe and was loved. I assume that life with a child with any kind of disability is hard-so hard-but for that week, their kid was loved more than he/she could ever know by God and by the volunteers at the camp. The smiles communicated a lot!
  3. God’s love language to us is “crazy”. This is one I have a hard time really wrapping my head around. Some of the situations we encountered, like pouring rain on a afternoon where we had planned on being outside and no power or wifi, were some of the craziest in how they ended up working out. God used what we thought was a ruined afternoon to bring about the sweetest moments. We just had to be flexible with the craziness of life with God in the driver’s seat.
  4. God speaks through songs-even annoying songs like “Baby Shark”. Songs have always held a significance in my life. Seasons of my life are defined by key songs. It was interesting to see how captivated the littles were with “Baby Shark”. There was person with an ipad who would play different songs that the littles loved but it always came back to “Baby Shark” or something in the Baby Shark Saga. She was always surrounded by kids. I think, and maybe I’m overthinking this, but God showed those kids that we love them and He loves them through us being willing to play “Baby Shark” 24/7 (to the point that several of us were hearing it in our dreams).
  5. Sometimes the dearest friends just appear in your life. I wasn’t planning on making a soul friend in Ukraine but I did. God knew I needed someone around my own age to vent to and talk to. We met the first day of camp, ate mulberries and were inseparable after that point. I think we both needed that friendship.

Here is just a few things I wanted to share as I’m processing everything God did in my heart. It was life-changing, and I’m processing it slowly so bear with me as I sporadically process.

The Very Worst Missionary

I just finished this book by Jamie Wright.

10/10 would recommend reading with a grain of salt.

She has some good points, but there is some shaky theology. She also uses some language so if Christians using language makes you mad just read the highlights and not the book.

Here are the things I pulled from the book( these are my opinion so if you disagree or agree take time and research it for yourself. I would recommend that you don’t just blindly follow me because I could be wrong.)

  1. Missionaries are normal people. Missionaries are not “more spiritual” because they decide to give up American (or their comfortable) culture for one that is different. They have similar struggles as the average American but we get shocked when we hear about their struggles.
  2. Our calling is not what we do as much as it is who we are while we do it. I used to be convinced that God would “call” me to suburban America because that was the environment I was least comfortable in. Now, I have realized it’s not where you are but who you are that matter. You can be a missionary anywhere and anytime. Some people are “called” to go overseas but Jesus simply said “Love your neighbor”. “I’m pretty sure he meant, like, my actual neighbor—the person or people nearest me at any given moment. At home. At work. On the subway. In the supermarket. Y’know, neighbors.”
  3. The only way to know how to truly love your neighbor is to truly know your neighbor. I’ve heard stories of short term missionaries going into a community and building a church or doing something and leaving and then the nationals tear down and rebuild it according to what’s common in that culture. If we go into missions with a savior mentality than we lose something crucial—relationships. Relationships are hard and time consuming. There is no physical measurement suggested for relationships. They don’t have the same measurements that say building a church does. You can say you built a church and built relationships, but you can only visually see one. You can’t see the hours spent talking over coffee and just simply being present. You can’t measure the depth of a relationship as a grande or venti. But the content of the time together matters.