One and Done

Recently God reminded me of something very important.

If you have been following my blog/stories on here, you know that the past few months I have been praying for the Lord to grant me the desire of my heart to go back to the nation of India to serve in some way, shape, or form. You also know that the Lord provided in miraculous ways and here I am, writing this blog from the depths of my own place in my favorite country, my home away from home… literally.

Well, you see, it’s funny that we talk about how God answers prayer. I think there are so many times we focus on the prayers that God doesn’t answer. But I mean, come on, who else is actually thanking God that He didn’t answer the prayer for you and your high school sweetheart to get back together? (It’s okay to raise your hand).

But when we focus so much on these unanswered prayers, with or without the hidden blessing deep inside, when our prayers do get answered, we take it for granted.

Here’s what I mean… for the past three to four months I basically begged God for a few specific things. One of them being that I can come back to India. At first, I didn’t think it would work out, but then I realized how much God was asking me to sacrifice so that He could bless me and give me this desire. I actually hate using the word sacrifice because I feel like it makes me look like some type of hero or something, but I’m not. It was a choice. Something I wanted to do to deepen my relationship with God.

God pulled a few strings and provided for me, just like the Word says He would. He got me finances, got me an online job, got me a really nice (and affordable) place to stay, and showed me that my education isn’t the only important thing in my life. So, with my Visa approved and excitement in my heart, I bought my ticket back to India.

It’s been officially three weeks in India. And while I have been so grateful that God has provided me this opportunity, I have been a selfish and spoiled little brat about it. It’s like I said, “hey God, I got what I wanted catch ya on the flippity flip!” But God was like, “oh no ya don’t young one. You can’t do this on your own!”

That’s slang for I lost my online job and am freaking out about not having an income. You would think that if I had enough faith to hop on an airplane and move across the globe for seven months that I would have enough faith that God would provide me with another source of income. But no. My human self actually got mad at God. Crazy right? Like who do I think I am?

I blamed God. I asked Him why He gave me this job and then took it away. Why did He open these doors and now I feel like they are slowly closing. Okay, maybe that’s a bit of an exaggeration. But honestly, the Lord dropped a big heavy revy (revelation) on me when I was actually attempting to lash out at God for letting this “failure” happen in my life.

I was reminded of the image of God as our Father. I thought immediately of earthly fathers. What do they do? They provide. They care. They make sure you are safe and have everything you need. So, I picked up the phone and called my dad and asked him for $1,000… kidding. I wish I could do that.

What actually happened was the Lord continued to show me that just like an earthly father doesn’t just provide for you once and then he’s done, but he must continuously provide for you. God the Father is the same way. He is not a one and done kind of God and never will He be one because He is an eternal provider that I can always count on. Can I get an AMEN?

God is saying to me that I cannot (and will not) do this on my own. I do not have enough strength and power in the world to be successful in my own might. I need Jesus. I need Him to carry me. I need Him to provide for me. I need Him to lead me and guide me. I need Him to be my vision because sometimes everything is super blurry.

I am reminded that God is the God that gives, but God is also the God that takes away. God is calling this generation, these people, us, to trust in Him in some radical ways. Even when the world is turning upside down and we lose something crucial (like an income), God is asking us to put our faith in Him like we have our earthly fathers. And if your earthly father did not provide for you God is saying that’s okay because He is still going to move in your life.

So instead of running the other way and letting Satan get a hold of our thoughts and emotions when these trials come, we need to remember who our Father in Heaven is. He is not a one and done kind of God, but He is the eternal provider that longs to see us thrive. And when He does provide, we cannot forget Him. We must continue to praise Him, thank Him, and allow Him to move in our lives. Just because He gives us what we want does not mean we have the authority to do what we want.

And my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus. 

Philippians 4.19

Remember, “in the world you will have tribulation, but take heart, Jesus has overcome the world,” John 16.33. Trust my dear friends. Trust in the promise of our providing eternal Father.

The Heart’s Desire

“Delight yourself in the Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart”

Psalm 37.4

How many times have you heard this verse in church or Sunday school? This verse is one of the most popular verses referred to when it comes to waiting.

You want to get married? Delight in the Lord and He will give you your desire. You want to have kids? Delight in the Lord…. You want a new car? Delight in the Lord… Any true desire that we have, the response is “delight in the Lord…”

Let me tell you about a time when the Lord put this verse on my heart, but I honestly did not know what the true desire of my heart was.

It was the end of my first year of college. I had just joined this missions group on campus called Ekballo. Shortly after I joined, we had a leadership retreat a few hours from the college at the vice president’s mansion. Now, I have to be honest and tell you that there was a very cute boy that was also going to this leadership retreat.

We were already pretty close friends, but I wanted to get to know him a little more. Ya know, see if there was any potential. So that was one of my missions for the weekend. On one of the days we did a prophecy exercise. All of our names were put into a hat and we drew a name and asked the Lord to give us a word for that person. The catch is that we couldn’t open the paper until after the word the Lord had given was shared.

As soon as I picked the piece of paper from the hat, I knew I had my own name. There was no doubt about it. The Lord said to me, “I am the God of the impossible and I will give you the desires of your heart (Psalm 37.4).”

My human mind immediately thought that was a promise that things would work out with this cute guy. For so long, I took that literally. I prayed and prayed and prayed that the Lord would send us out to the nations together. Then, we went on a missions trip to Southeast Asia together. I thought that surely the Lord was making this happen.

Things did not go as I had hoped with this guy though. He didn’t have feelings for me and then at some point we tried dating but realized it was just awkward, so not we are just good friends, and at one point, we were best friends.

So, that led me to still ask the Lord “then what is this desire of my heart that you plan on giving me?” As you may know from previous blogs I spent the beginning of 2018 until about April living in India for a study abroad experience. You may also know that I fell in love with that land and the people there.

Before I go any further, I need to share another little snippet of my past. After this guy and I went on this trip the Southeast Asia, we went to a missions conference back in the states. At this conference, they asked those who are willing and desirous to go the nations one day and serve overseas to fill out a commitment card. I knew I still had two more years of school left, so I said, “okay Lord, in two years, I will go and live on foreign soil to spread the Gospel and bring justice.”

Okay, now back the story… After getting home from my time in India, I did what most college graduates do. I got a job and started online classes towards my masters degree. I actually ended up having to get a new car too.

At first, I loved my job and was happy to be home with my family. I enjoyed hanging out with my cousin and best friend every weekend. I started playing tennis and doing all sorts of other exciting things.

Soon, I realized that this happiness was not lasting. It was so hard to be away from the land that I fell in love with. Not a single day went by where I did not think of India. I talked to friends from there everyday.

After a few months of working, I needed to re-evaluate my plans. It’s not that I hated the job, but it was not up my alley in what I wanted to do. The experience was incredible, nonetheless, but I wanted something more. So, I prayed.

I said Lord, I want to go back to India. I began searching for ways I could go. Maybe I could use education as a clutch again. I searched for an online job to keep me financially secure, and I reached out to my contacts in India to find proper housing. I didn’t expect any of it to work out in such an easy way.

Then, all of a sudden, housing fell in place, people wanted to partner financially with me, I had a project lined up for me to do when I got there, the only thing that was not set was the education piece. The school that I go to wanted me to go to a different part of India to complete field placement. They were not satisfied with where I had proposed I did my field education at.

I had a choice to make. Either I moved to a different part of India where I didn’t know anyone or the area, or stayed home. Then, the Lord put a third option on my heart that I didn’t even think would be possible. I could drop down to part time for my masters degree and complete it in two years, instead of just one.

That would mean that the educational piece would be eliminated altogether. After much prayer and surrendering my own plans to the Lord, this is what I decided to do. I felt so much peace about it. Probably because I knew God had a greater plan through all of it.

I texted my professor from my undergraduate college and told her everything was set into place and I was going back in just one month (this was at the end of July). She replied, “the Lord is giving you the desires of your heart!”

At that moment, the past two years of my life in wondering what the Lord meant in what He said to me at that leadership retreat all fell into place. While I do have the desire to be married one day, my biggest desire, and promise I made to the Lord, was that I would live overseas for an extended period of time serving the Lord.

That being said, I quit my well-paying job, hopped on an airplane and moved to India for the next 7 months of my life. As I sit here in my own room that I am renting with the funds the Lord so graciously provided, I am filled with the most joy I have ever felt because I know that I am completely and utterly in the exact place that the Lord wants me.

The Lord has gave me the desires of my heart. Friend, if there is anything that you get out of this post, get this: The Lord is faithful to bring His promises. It takes a little effort on our end. We are called to be obedient, no matter how fearful we are, and to trust that He is in complete control. So, take a step back and delight in the Lord because He wants to give you the desires of your heart too.

Human Trafficking

Today I am going to write a little bit different of a post. Technically, this post is for one of my classes, however, that does not discredit the fact that I am VERY passionate about this topic. So… if you are willing to bare with me, please check out the video below!

Did you know that human trafficking is something that not only takes place on the other side of the world, but also in America? I know, it’s not really a fact the “home of the brave” and “land of the free” wants to admit. But sometimes, we have to come to grips with the things we don’t want to hear, or believe to be true.

The above video is a “mock” journal entry of a man who was in dire need of finances to support his family. He lost his job due to a cyclone that swept across south India. It also destroyed his home. His wife was pregnant and he had one daughter already. When he met the owner of the brick kiln, he was promised welfare, job security, livelihood, and housing. He was told that he would always have access to resources, such as schooling for his children and medical facilities.

Little did he know, he was falling into a trap of deceit.

He took out the loan to try to pay for a new home for his family. Unfortunately, the owner of the brick kiln would not give the full 20,000 rupees (RS) he had asked for. But the owner forced him and his family to work long hours each day to pay back 20,000 RS. The owner soon made the family refer to him as master. He would set high quotas for them. He would make them work for up to 14 hours at a time, if not, more.

When it became time for the children to start school, the master only stated that until the loan was paid off, the children would not be allowed to go to school. He also stated that they would not have access to a doctor or other medical facilities, ever. He took away the children’s birth certificates (because the parents did not have any). He took all of the identification cards. They were now “stuck”in the system of bonded laboring and would not be leaving anytime soon. At least not until the master freed them or an anti-slavery organization found them.

I know what you are thinking. This is slavery. You’re not wrong. This type of thing is illegal. Even in India. But it is still taking place. There are three things we can proactively do as Christians to abolish trafficking in all nations:

1. Pray

We can pray for several things. Pray for justice, peace, and for laborers to be sent to the unruly part of the world where no one wants to go. Check out the following verses: Micah 6.8, Proverbs 21.151 John 5.14, Ephesians 6.18, Matthew 9.35-39

2. Give

There are many anti-human trafficking agencies spread across the globe. Some are even faith-based! Many are also non-profit organizations and need dedicated donors to help keep them going. A few organizations are: International Justice Mission, Rahab Ministries, Anti-Slavery International, and Polaris Project. Check out the following verses: Matthew 6.21, Malachi 3.10, Matthew 19.21

3. Do

Just as these agencies need finances, they also need workers. Now, you may be thinking well most of these are only volunteer based. Yep! That’s so true! But, Jesus did not get paid to do His work either! We are called, income or no income, to bring justice and spread the Good News! You may also be thinking that you are not educationally competent to work for an agency like this. However, the jobs range from social worker, policy analysts, businessmen, human resources, media/marketing, and even medical. There is a plethora of opportunities! Check out some of the agencies above to see how YOU can get involved and make an impact! Take a look at Jesus’ heart for going: Matthew 28.19-20, Luke 10.1-4, Isaiah 6, Acts 1.8, Luke 4.18-19

Personally, I feel called as a social worker to utilize the skills I have learned in my classes and field experiences to bring justice in this area. Specifically, social workers can advocate and help meet human needs. While I was in India, I had the incredible opportunity to work with the International Justice Mission and the college I was studying abroad at that held a rehabilitation training program fro released bonded laborers. This program focused specifically on unity in numbers and bringing the released bonded laborers to a point of self-sufficiency. As a social worker, I can not only advocate, but facilitate empowerment among victims and previous victims of human trafficking.

For many, this is a touchy subject. This is a topic that is very sensitive, not only to us, but also to victims. It is important to remember that the victims are not just statistics. They are mothers, daughters, sisters, brothers, fathers, sons, etc. They matter just as much as we do. They are just as much God’s creation, just as we are. Let us rise up as an army of the Lord to battle this heinous crime against humanity.

 

The End All

It was a warm Monday afternoon with a slight breeze shifting the sun’s rays from beating directly down on my already sun-kissed skin. I was trying to figure out what I did to deserve the blessing of getting off work early on a Monday afternoon. I had two and a half hours to spend doing whatever I wanted. After stopping at the LifeWay store to check out good deals on books, selling a pair of old jeans to Plato’s Closet, and using my buy-one-get-one coupon at CoreLife Eatery on two healthy-as-all-get-out salads, I had a decision to make.

I could either go to my grandmother’s house and accompany her in her scorching living room and do nothing, or go to the Starbucks that I basically live at to finish, yet another, assignment for my graduate classes. I chose neither. Instead, I went to a park with a river. I wanted to just rest. I wanted to spend time with myself. I wanted to just breathe for one moment before I had to go to yet another commitment.

I got to the park, grabbed one of the books I just bought (and the free journaling notebook with my purchase!), a pen, and my aqua blue water bottle and headed for the shaded bench along the riverside. There were several dads walking along the river with their young children. It was so precious watching the little ones laugh and giggle while walking in the smooth river.

As I sat there, I breathed in and thought this is it. This is what I need. A moment for me. I opened my book and began to read, but only made it through the introduction before the wind sent goosebumps up and down my spine. I got up and walked to another bench in the sun. Perfect.

I continued reading and sipping my cool water. I was in such unbelief that on a Monday afternoon I could actually take time to just be. This was a moment I longed for more of. No rushing. No cell phone. No worrying. A moment of pure bliss, I would say.

I kept reading and observing the beautiful wildlife around me. God had such an imagination when He created. I had enough time to read through four chapters of this new book I just got (the chapters were less than 10 pages!). The book seemed to be exactly what I needed. It was like the words sprang right off the page and into my heart.

The book, An Intentional Life by Karen Stott began by talking about passion and pursing the things that God has called us to. Karen shares her own personal testimony to help readers relate. And boy, could I relate! The words that she probably put her heart and soul into were some of the most empowering words I have ever read.

Eventually, I put the book down because I needed to process what I had just read. You see, we all have so many hopes and dreams, so many desires, so much passion. She described this one moment where she was doing something she absolutely loved and she could tell it was what she was called to do because she was thriving and just at complete peace. Have you ever felt that?

I felt that once, when I was in India. I loved the work I was doing. I loved the people that I was surrounded by. Sure, I missed home, but this was it! This is what I was passionate AOAM0562 (1)about! Someone even captured a candid of my pure joy of me doing what I felt called to do. But now, now I am home. I am back in the States, living with my parents while I finish (hopefully) the rest of my education in my masters program.

There is not a day that goes by where I do not think about India or my time there. I miss it. Even though there were so many times when I was so frustrated and did not understand anything, I miss it. Because that was clearly where God had called me to. I feel like one day, hopefully sooner than later, I will be traveling back to those not-so-foreign grounds that I fell in love with.

Eventually, it was time for me to leave the peaceful moment and head to my church to serve at our summer sports camp outreach for children. As I walked to the car I had only one thought: this is not the end-all.

After getting home from India, an experience that changed my life and that could never be topped, I graduated college and did what any other college graduate does, I got a job (and started my masters program). I started working full-time, getting re-engaged in my church, catching up with friends, going to school full-time, heck, I even picked up Tennis as a hobby! But something was just not right. I was not happy. I was not happy with where I was career-wise, or several other areas of my life.

I had this aching and passion to do other things. I wanted to move to Washington D.C. and work for the International Justice Mission or move to New York and work for the United Nations (I still do!). But I couldn’t. Not yet. It wasn’t “my time” to do that. Even though those are my dreams and passions and goals for myself, they were not what God had in mind for me fresh out of college. God had something else in store for me. He wanted me to work and get this other college education and focus on bettering myself (maybe I should say “becoming” myself?)

This meant, once again, putting my dreams on hold. I even had to recognize that I had to put a really important relationship on hold, trusting that if it were meant to be, God would make a way. This is a time where God wants to transform me. God wants to lead me to still waters. God wants to plant a yearning so strong in my heart for the things that I am already so passionate about that I will not ever be able to give up on my dreams.

This is my season of growing.

I was talking to my best friend (my best friend for over half of our lives now). She is also in a season of growing. We talked about how difficult it is. We are both in places where we don’t want to be, but where God has ordained us to be. It comforts me to know that my closest friend is in this with me.

Before recognizing this (and even after), I realized that at some point along the lines I lost my fear of God. I lost my reverence and awe for the one who created me, the very thing that connected me with God on a level I couldn’t even begin to describe. My heart hardened. My well was dry. I was in a desert. I was so stubborn, that I did not even recognize this.

I was angry with God. I was confused at why I had just experienced something so incredible and so life-giving that I loved doing, but was brought home to something I was not passionate about. I was upset with him that I met an amazing man, but the relationship was put to a halt. I asked God if He was punishing me, but He did not answer. He was silent. All of this warped my thoughts and made me question if I should even continue pursing the dreams I have. Should I even trust God that if it is His will, He will make a way with this relationship?

I felt like I would be stuck in this rut for the rest of my life.

But after this moment at this park, I felt renewed. After reading a few words of encouragement from another sister in Christ, I felt that it is possible to get through this. Even though right now, in this day, I feel like I am getting no where, or achieving any of the goals I have set for myself, God is taking me everywhere and I am achieving the goals He has set for me.

So while I am not living the “perfect life” I thought I would be right after I graduated from college, I am living the life that God has called me to live at such a time as this. And in this time, come hell or high water, I want to be so immersed in what God has for me that I will never be distracted. I want God to mold me, transform me, prune me, make me new. I know it will be painful, but it will be worth it. He is preparing me for something mighty ahead. He is answering my prayers in His own way, in His own timing.

This is not the end all and the best is yet to come.

Now, it is time for me to allow the Holy Spirit to soften my heart and to submit to what He has placed before me. Are you ready to join me on this journey?

A Beautiful One

I have not blogged in a very long time- obviously. But there’s a reason for that. If you look at my past blogs, they are all about my time studying abroad in India. Around the time when I stopped blogging, is around the time when I had about one month left in the amazing country. Now, it has been a little over a month since I have been home, and I still have not blogged.

It’s not that I don’t have time. It’s not that I don’t want to. You see, the thing is, I don’t know what to write. I didn’t want to write an “ending” to my time in India. I didn’t want to write about all the goodbyes I had to say, my airport stories, or how excited my family was to see me when they picked me up from the airport. Honestly, there are just not enough words in the English (or any other) dictionary for me to describe the experiences I had.

Now that it has been a little over a month, I have had time to reflect more on my time abroad. I have re-integrated into my complex American life and now it is time to share a little bit about what is going on in my heart and head.

If you read my first few blogs while I was in India, you know that I had a rough time. I was sick, I was missing home and my family, I was not very fond of the bugs, and overall, the culture shock got the best of me. Fortunately, as I spent more time there, I develop amazing relationships with locals that love Jesus and have compassion for community. These were the people I clung to.

I started being more intentional about my relationship with Jesus and allowing Him into my everyday life to cleanse me and heal me of past issues. When I started doing this, I was filled with so much joy and I became so content with myself and where I was at in life. I began to fall in love with the land that I had convinced myself previously I hated.

One of my closest friends began tutoring me in Hindi. We would have “tutoring” sessions at the Cafe Coffee Day (CCD) down the road. We had a deal. She would tutor me and I would buy her coffee. Sometimes, we just got so caught up in talking about life that we never got to Hindi. Either way, this was one of the sweetest friendships I have ever made in my entire life. I learned so much from this girl and cannot wait until our paths cross again.

When I hopped on my flight from Cleveland Hopkins Airport with the intention of landing in Chennai, India three days later, I had no idea what to expect. I knew I would learn, but I didn’t know what I would unlearn. I knew I would struggle, but I didn’t know how I would succeed. I knew I would grow, but I didn’t know how I would learn so much about myself. You see, I learned more about myself in these 3 1/2 glorious months than I have in my entire life.

Being in another country stretched me thin and pushed me to my limits at times. But ya know what? I think we all need to experience that in our lives. We all need to be tested and put on trial in a land we are not familiar with. That, my friends, is how we grow. I want to share a few more things…

In India, I became another person. I gained more confidence in myself than I ever thought possible. I learned to accept who I am and who Jesus wants me to be. And through that, came a wonderful fullness of joy.

I learned patience. I learned that you do not always have to be doing something crazy and adventurous. Want to know why? Because being a foreigner in such a “hectic” culture is adventurous enough… I mean, getting on the right train and bus is crazy enough!

Lastly, one of the most important things I learned is that it is okay to not know what is happening next. From day one of walking around nearly unconscious due to the horrid affects of jet lag, to the very last day trying to say goodbye to newly found lifelong friends, I was always in a state of not knowing. Now, if you know me, you know this is completely against what I stand for. Everyone knows that I have my life planned out 5-years in advance. But that was nearly impossible for me to do in India.

Indians are very flexible people. They are people that are adapted to change wherever, whenever. This grew on me. The whole time I was so scared of going home because I didn’t know what to expect. My parent’s house had caught on fire and they moved to a new one while I was away. I was graduating college, trying to find a job, trying to figure out if and how I would go to graduate school. At times, it spoiled my attitude and left me bankrupt of the contentness and joy I had just found.

Now that I am home, I have found that I’m actually okay when I just go with the flow. I CAN find contentment. I CAN adjust. I CAN succeed. And you know what? I actually kind of like it. There is something adventurous about being spontaneous that reminds me of my life in India.

Folks, in no way, shape, or form, does this blog post shed the slightest light on my time in what has become my most favorite country on Earth. But, I can tell you this, my life has been forever changed and until the day comes when I venture to that land again, I will do what I can to get my “India” fill. (Yes that means every time I see a person from India in public I will say “Namaste” and attempt to speak in the little bit of Hindi that I know).

To sum it up, my time in India was “a beautiful one”.

You make known to me the path of life;
    in your presence there is fullness of joy;
    at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.

Psalm 16.11