Canada here I come…

So, after returning home to Hershey, PA last Friday, I fly out today for the next adventure… college! I’ve been asked by everyone: ” Are you excited, nervous, unsure, sad…etc.?” and my answer is… YES! to all of the above. 🙂

I’m sad about the fact that I’m not going to be here longer to be a part of my friends and family’s lives. I’m sad that I only got 10 days at home and had to spend a lot of that in preparation for college. I’m excited to start this new adventure, what a lot of people have been calling a “new chapter in my life.” I’m excited to be a little bit more independent and have to make my own way a little bit, all the while having a solid family that I know will keep me grounded. I’m unsure about the atmosphere that I’m going to find myself in. I’m not super nervous… yet. I probably will be as I head closer to the time when I move in. I still have a couple of days for that to sink in. I’m unsure about the reality about living in a city with a family that I haven’t lived in or with since I was 7. I’m unsure about the people that I’m going to meet and whether or not I’m going to be able to buckle down and work my butt off when school has been relatively easy for me before this.

So, this is me, thanking all of you out there for your support and prayers over my summer, and as I head on to another crazy transition. I’m so thankful for each of you!

 

Prayer requests: that God would be my utmost focus of my life as I adjust to my new surroundings and join the “college scene!” 🙂

 

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NaĂŻve…

The other day, I was reminded again just how naĂŻve I am… And I’m struggling to decide whether or not that’s a good thing. I was talking with one of my friends the other day and was shocked about some of the things that she saw in her neighborhood and some of the crimes that she had been a victim of. And she was talking as if it was an everyday thing. I forgot how much sin and pain and anger there is around me, and when I realize it, I’m not sure what to do about it. Many of the missionaries around me have the right attitude: don’t condone it, but also remember that it’s sin, no worse than anything you or I might do daily. The problem is, when I hear about this abuse and that attack and this reality that someone has to live with, I ache inside for them.

Now, my question is… is that a bad thing? Should I be happy that I didn’t grow up experiencing life in a way that would harden me? Should I feel protected and cherished because I can’t understand some of the things that my friends are sharing with me? Should I feel bad that I don’t understand most of the crude slang out there, or I don’t look at a person and immediately understand that he’s completely stoned, or she’s high? I don’t think I should. But then, when I create a relationship with someone and they’re sharing their struggles with me, how do I encourage them and help them if I can’t understand? How can I hope to go into a place where sin like this is commonplace and treat it as such?

I struggle because I know that these are things that God never created nor intended for us to experience. These are things that our sin has created and things that are fed by our enemy, Satan. I struggle because I shouldn’t have to understand this junk, because that’s not what I was created for. But on the other side, I know that each and every person around me is a precious son or daughter of God and He adores each of them, no matter what they do. So how can God use me to bring that truth to them, if they know that I’m extremely different than they are, I have lived a different life, and I can’t relate. As much as I want to say I understand… It’s impossible for me to understand the depth of some of the things that these people go through.

And then I hear God say: “Anna, step back. Who is God in this relationship? Who is sovereign and all powerful? Who is King and Lord of all? I AM! And I can use you in places that you’d never dream you could be in. And I can use you to encourage these children of mine, and give you the words to say. Words that you would never be able to come up with on your own. Trust me.  It’s as simple as that.”

And I realize that I’m struggling with the position that God has given me in life. It’s not like I can control my circumstances like that. I’m trying to play God and wishing that I could understand what was not given to me to understand. I need to be thankful that God has protected me and allowed me to live my life and trust that He will prepare me for whatever task He has for me in the future. And it’s ok to be saddened by the hurt and pain that I see around me. God is saddened too, so why am I trying to harden myself to the “facts of life”?

Prayer Requests: That God would continue to bring me to the place where I need to be: humbled and softened for Him. Ready to serve Him in all circumstances, knowing that I can’t in any way do it on my own.

Contentment…

So this morning, I went to a church in the city with my friend and there was a guest speaker. He’s actually a guy that I met before at game night and so my friends wanted to support him by sitting in the very first row… 🙂 

Anyway, it was really cool, because he challenged us to be content. To be thankful in whatever circumstance that Christ places us in. And after the sermon, he led in a time of quiet and personal reflection and prayer. I was praying and I felt really convicted about how I’ve been feeling. It’s hard to describe. I’m ready to return home, but not ready to say goodbye to everyone. I’m excited to see my family, but dreading the fact that I only have 10 days at home and that time will be full of crazy busyness. However you look at it, though, I have not been content. 

I should be resting in God’s peace and grace, thanking Him for the amazing grace that He has extended upon me this summer, the things that I’ve learned, the people that I’ve met, and for molding me and changing me into someone who is focused on Him instead of myself. I should be looking forward to the time I have at home and thankful for the time that I do have. 

No matter whether I think I need more time, or need something else, God always provides what I truly need. 

So, I’m praying that God will give me peace and continue to allow me contentment. I’m now really excited for this final week here in NOLA and for the following time with family and even beyond, to the start of school!

Prayer Requests: I would challenge you to prayerfully consider whether you are content in your circumstances or not.

Turn the other cheek?

So, today I was talking to my friend on staff here in NOLA about turning the other cheek. What does that really mean?

Lamentations 3:30 – “Let them turn the other cheek to those who strike them and accept the insults of their enemies. For no one is abandoned by the Lord forever.” NLT

Now, to me, this says that when somebody is insulting me, I should not respond. I should allow them to say whatever because I know the truth in my Savior, Jesus Christ. BUT… then what about self defense. Does this mean we should let people walk all over us? Does this mean if we are attacked we should not defend ourselves?

My friend said that we should turn the other cheek if it’s for God’s glory, meaning that if it’s bashing on my faith, or persecution because of my faith, I should not respond. But if it’s petty stuff, don’t respond in kind, but make it clear that you do not deserve to be treated that way, nor will you stand there and just take it.

I guess that’s another factor. If you respond, how? When somebody’s insulting you, should we respond defensively? Or should it always be respectful, not belittling the other person, but making it clear where you stand?

Honestly, this is something I’m not sure I know where I stand on… I can see both examples in the Bible. So if any of you have opinions, I’d love to hear them. Just something to think about and be studying on.

Prayer requests: That I would be an encouragement and a blessing to those around me this last week. Also, we have a staff member who’s injured himself and is in a lot of pain. Please pray for healing.

There is a time…

“There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven… so I saw that there is nothing better for a man than to enjoy his work, because that is his lot. For who can bring him to see what will happen after him?” Ecclesiastes 2:1,22
 
As I was reading this today, it hit me: We should work hard, enjoy the work that God has given us and then move on, knowing that our salvation is not in works but in the gift of Jesus Christ.
 
Now all of you are going… yeah, no way, Anna… 🙂  What I mean is, it’s really important to find the balance, prayerfully, between focusing on “doing” and following. The team leader from this last week said something today that I really liked: “I wanna find the difference and focus more on BEING a servant rather than going TO serve.” Because when you go to serve, you often have your own agenda, your own plan about what you’re going to get DONE, rather than being a servant and asking what is needed and being willing to do whatever someone asks of you to bring God glory. It’s not important what we’ve done, because we won’t be around to see the fruit of all that we might have done.
 
But, also, along with this, I’ve been realizing that there is a time for certain things in your life. And one of those times has ended for me… that’s the time to be a kid, dependent on others for everything and told what to do and how to go about it in every aspect of my life. Coming to New Orleans was one of the first times that I’ve been on my own and needing to make decisions truly on my own. I’m going to Canada for college, and I’m actually really excited to explore and study and grow. My mom said something to me a few months ago: ” This is a time for you to make your faith your own, make your own decisions and fly!” I’m nervous about the responsibility,  but I’m excited about the possibility too.
 
Prayer Requests: That as I continue after NOLA and head off to college, God will guide my steps in this new time in my life. Pray that I will be focused on being a servant and on realizing that it’s time to move on to new things in my life!