Congo.

There’s more forthcoming than what I’m about to write. The thing being I’m still so tired that it never seems to ever come out like I want it to. People ask and the words that come out feel just that-tired. Amazing, life-changing, incredible, beautiful are just too simple. For every person who asks me, I feel like I could sit them down for coffee and still stumble over how simplistic everything out of my mouth feels. It feels like it isn’t over, even though I can see my empty suitcase from where I am in my bed. It still has red dirt on it, but it snowed here in Maine the other night.

It took malaria to give me words.

I still miss it like crazy. After all this, if you handed me a plane ticket right this second,  I’d pack my bags. Malaria taught me to pray for Africa. And trust me, I’m not that much of a saint, I prayed plenty for my own healing. But it taught me to pray against the anxiety and hopelessness, and the exhaustion. The fact that this wasn’t a death sentence for me is a matter of my privilege, and it’s that privilege that makes the injustice make me more angry.

I won’t ever have to worry about dying in a waiting room because I don’t have the money. 

Malaria taught me how much my God loves Congo. Malaria and a travel show on Netflix on the Congo. I tell my mom, it still feels like it wasn’t real, like it was all some dream. And as I watched this show, from the border crossing to the distinct French, the color, it all came back and I cried.

God, it’s so beautiful. It’s so beautiful, isn’t it? 

God loves the Congo. Like he loves me. Like he loves his bride. That’s all I could think of as a watched last night, this is what God’s love looks like, seeing beauty where no one else would. Seeing hope where no one else is. I realized his justice even more as I sat there looking and listening to what felt like.

Remembering that hope is the most stubborn force in the planet.

to be continued. 

 

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Prince of Peace: Outreach

 

Your love surrounds me when my thoughts wage war

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When night screams terror, there your voice will roar

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Congolese flee the eastern town of Sake, just west of Goma, on Friday. Fighting between rebel and government forces in the east of the Democratic Republic of Congo has displaced at least 100,000 people.                   

                      Come death or shadow, God I know your light will meet me there

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And my soul will know…
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    This beautiful nation that God is already speaking to me about. This beautiful nation that needs God’s words of life to roar into the midst of war and into the midst of fear. In mid-January, I’ll be headed to the Democratic Republic of the Congo, to bring these words. When we learn of who God truly is, we just can’t keep it in, can we?

I’m looking at about $2500. The first installment will be visa fees in the beginning of November. I’m overjoyed to get to witness how He provides over and over again, and know he will this time, but I would love for you to be apart of it. I’d love for you to go with me. Over the next day or two, I will put out a video update, and something with a few more details. Thanks for reading and please comment or email with any questions.

Tag, You’re It

Hide and seek. It’s like hide and seek. It’s like follow the leader. It’s wild and crazy. It’s terrifying, because what if- oh, there you are.

Following after Jesus is like this. Like the wildest game of tag you’ve ever played. When I came here, it’s like God said to me

Tag, you’re it.

And I finally caught up to him, laughing, in awe of how he never really left. Jesus is really not great at hide and seek, he’s like that one kid you can hear giggling, arms and legs sticking out from behind a tree. They aren’t hiding to hide, they are hiding to be found. 

And sometimes you get scared, because he found a really good spot this time, and you get a little nervous, and then you hear a chuckle from behind the shower curtain.

I couldn’t stop playing if I wanted to. This is missions for me. Jesus says, tag you’re it and there is a compulsion in my soul that needs to find him.

I am captivated. 

I was talking with someone here in Kristiansand, the brother of one my roommates’ boyfriend. And we began to talk about what brought me here.

The short story? Madison and Kristiansand are connected by a lot of people who recommended it, I didn’t wanna wait.

The long one? Tag, you’re it.

God is moving here in Europe. You can taste it, you can feel it, it builds every time I talk to someone. We are collectively hearing a giggle from behind the tree and Jesus, we want to be where you are. We don’t want to miss it, we don’t want to ignore where you’re moving. Europe is reviving, and I don’t want to miss a second of it.

There are refugees in the farmland of Sweden who need to see the love of Jesus in a way that they can touch, taste, hear, see, because they are waiting and no one is coming. Girls in the red lights of Berlin, literally living in hell on earth. I hate to paint it so negatively, and don’t get me wrong, there are people going. There are people to whom this is ludicrous, who are radically following Jesus, desperate to find him where he is. Psalms says it like this:

“He raises the poor from the dust And lifts the needy from the ash heap, to make them sit with princes, With the princes of His people.” Psalm 113:7

“Because of the devastation of the afflicted, because of the groaning of the needy, Now I will arise,” says the LORD; “I will set him in the safety for which he longs.” Psalm 12:5

“Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me. Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you? The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.” Matthew 25: 34-40

Jesus identified so closely with the poor, with the needy, he says do it or don’t to those who need it, it’s as if you were doing it to me.  Jesus says, meet me here. Meet me among the poor, among the needy. Meet me here.

God is here, in Scandinavia, reviving hearts, changing minds, awakening souls.

God is here, in Europe, awakening new life. I don’t want to miss a second of it. I don’t want to miss a second of what he’s saying, what he’s doing, where he’s moving. It’s coming alive, and I couldn’t bring myself to be anywhere else.

“The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me, because the Lord has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted,to proclaim freedom for the captives;” Isaiah 61:1

There is so much more to that verse. All of the good things the Lord has to proclaim over those he loves. Because he loves us, so, so much.

Tag, you’re it.

God is inspiring some cool things here, so look for a few announcements over the next few days. Thanks as always for reading. If you’d like to partner with me, in what God is doing here in Scandinavia, head here to financially partner with me. Your money goes directly to personal expenses while here in Norway, as well as some exciting opportunites to reach out into Scandinavia as a whole. More on that later. 

You Go With Me.

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When the perishable puts on the imperishable, and the mortal puts on immortality, then shall come to pass the saying that is written:

“Death is swallowed up in victory.”

O death, where is your victory?

O death, where is your sting?”

1 Corinthians 15: 54-55

   Sometimes, as I talk about what I’m doing, what God is doing, I use this phrase:
You go with me. And it’s true. I remember being a little girl, listening to preaching and missionary stories, and hearing of a woman that had worked her whole life to be a missionary to China, and ended up not being able to because of her health. She spent the rest of her life supporting those who could go. And her reward is the same, because while her feet never touched the ground, those missionary’s wouldn’t have without her either.

    Every time I say that phrase, that was the story I thought of. It’s a different story now. Because there was one time I said it and I had no idea.

      It was the day I got back to Maine, after six months split between Wisconsin and Europe, we had arrived back at one o’ clock that morning. I was slated to share with my home church (Machias Christian Fellowship) that night, and I was underprepared and thoroughly exhausted. I shared stories of dancing in the rain with refugees in Stockholm, praying peace over Syria, and praying through the red light district of Berlin. I talked about Kristiansand, about my next steps. I couldn’t fully picture the crowd that was there today, but I remember taking note of all the new faces. Despite my exhaustion and under-preparedness, God moved. Isn’t that just who he is?

      God spoke to the heart of Jon Popham that night. I didn’t know Jon well, just as the husband of friend. They hadn’t been married long when I left. I had held their little one at my friend Emily’s wedding. Jon told Melinda a few times that he wanted to give something to help.

     He went to be with Jesus three weeks later.

His wife showed up at my house late last night with a card. And that something he wanted to give. From me and Jon.

     You go with me.

Jon goes to Norway with me. Never had that phrase I’ve said a thousand times become so clear to me. That even in death, even in tragedy, the legacy of a life redeemed. What I did know about Jon is that he was a man who loved Jesus, who loved his family. He was a silly guy, I remember learning as I went through pictures of him with his wife.

      Oh death, where is your sting? Oh hell, where is your victory?

And that’s the thing: I had never put together just how defiant that statement is. Death, you don’t get to win this time! You don’t get to have this one, even in death, Jesus wins! Where Jesus is, he’s knocked the teeth straight out of the grip hell and death had over us, and we get to have a redemption that lasts even beyond the grave.

    So Jon lives on, Jon goes with me. The work God had done stand more powerful than even death. Our story never just ends here. When we pour into others, when we stand obedient, when Christ choses to redeem something, even in death, it stands redeemed.

     So thank you, Jon and Melinda. As I get on that airplane in a few days, you go with me

                                           Jon and Min

                                                         Jon and Melinda at their wedding.

Just Like Riding a Bike

 

And the risk of falling never stops existing, you just get to a point where you realizefalling and dying aren’t the same thing.

This is the truth. It started as something polished, even pretty. I originally wrote this like an FAQ. It was like Mom and Dad wrapping a bike, and underneath all the pretty paper, you can still see it’s a bike. Like why bother wrapping it?

Exactly.

The more see-you-laters, the more bye-for-now’s that I have? Oh boy, is this scary. Much like the first time we took the training wheels off my own bike (I was like 8, it was sad, I was THAT uncoordinated), and I scraped up my ribcage. And swore I’d never ride again, through yells and sobs and a fair amount of drama.

Once I got over the gashes (scrapes), that bike was the catalyst for adventure and imagination, for freedom. I remember riding around my neighborhood, popping in on family member unannounced, or into the woods, cruising down the hill towards the lake and seeing how quick I could stop.

Exactly.

These preparations for Norway feel like scrapes on my ribcage right now. They aren’t debilitating but boy, do they make themselves known. But all they are is a reminder of a Thing I still haven’t conquered. A Thing whose gashes prove I’m at least giving it a solid try without training wheels. A Thing that exists, and is real, and is waiting for me.

See, I love this. I love traveling, and culture, and different people, and my people so freaking much. I get a little itchy if I’m in one place for too long. I’m so, so excited.

I’m so, so, so scared.

I’m learning quick that the doing of the thing, doesn’t make the thing any less scary. I’m still scared, I’m just- LOOK, DAD, I’M DOING IT! I’M DOING IT!

Nothing changed, I just started moving. And panicking. But mostly moving. Like that weird sense of terror that happens just after the adrenaline wears off and you become self-aware?

That is my emotional state right now.

When I got on a bike again this past year (literally, no metaphor), I was in Sweden, and was not entirely sure I knew what I was doing. I was 99.9% sure I would fall off (in front of my team) and look like a fool (I talked in my sleep, it was too late for that one). And with that in my mind, I got on. And it hurt (at first), but after that? I wanted to go everywhere on it. It’s not to say I didn’t fall (I made sure I was alone), and that my thighs weren’t hateful of me (I DIDN’T KNOW THESE MUSCLES EXISTED), but I was ten again. It restored something. I remembered something:

I like doing hard things.

It feels too easy if I’m not really scared. I have no satisfaction unless I’m 85% sure I CAN’T DO THIS.

But God never changed his mind no matter how many times I said I can’t do it. God hasn’t changed his mind on me yet, on this adventure yet, and I’m me, so I’m in shock.

But I trust him, a lot. Sometimes I don’t think I should, because I use my eyes. But when I use my brain, and when I exercise my faith, not just my anxiety, I usually make the right choice.

I move to a new country (temporarily, but still for a while) in a week.

And I’m really scared.

But God isn’t. I think he’s standing there like my dad was, waiting for me to do the Next Brave Thing, to just get on the bike, learn how it balances, see how it rides, how to hold myself.

I might even fall off a few times. I might throw the bike back, tell him I hate it.

And he’ll chuckle, pick it back up, because we both know I’m gonna get back on.

And like my real bike, once balance kicks in, and I learn, and I fall a little less. And the risk of falling never stops existing, you just get to a point where you realize
falling and dying aren’t the same thing. If you aren’t falling, you aren’t going anywhere.

This whole thing?

It’s just like riding a bike.

Deconstruction/Meditation- Part 1

This is a piece I felt God really laying on my heart over the last few days. Look for part 2 later this week. Thanks for reading.

Our father in Heaven

Hallowed be your name

Your kingdom come

Your will be done

On earth as it is, in heaven

Give us this day our daily bread

And forgive us our debts

As we have forgiven our debtors

And deliver us not into temptation

but deliver us from the evil one

Yours is the kingdom,

The power

The glory

Forever.

     Our father, in heaven.

Just linger for a minute on the sweetness of this. In this one passage, we address him as king, as provider, as deliverer. But I often quickly skip THAT word. Father. Dad. Abba. Doesn’t that shorten the distance? Doesn’t this one passage illustrate the complexity, the paradox almost? Jesus teaches us to pray and he opens with our father. That cuts knife-sharp through the distance I try to place. Lord feels distant and hollow sometimes, even though it’s true. There’s never a day where talking to God as my father is a thing that creates distance. When I begin to solely refer to him as Lord, I miss him as father. When I miss him as father, I miss the love, intimacy and provision he has for me. I miss the relationship.

    Hallowed be your name.

I looked up hallowed. To honor as holy. As this prayer is spoken, as it’s prayed, this is what we are asking: Father, honor your your name as holy. John Piper says this in relation to this passage: “One is that prayer does not move God to do things he is disinclined to do. He has every intention to cause his name to be hallowed.” God has every intention of honoring his name as holy. So the question to me, to us, is this: do we? God has every intention and even by the location in this passage teaches me that this is a priority to the heart of God, that the honor of his name is prioritized. His name is the first thing that comes to your mind when you think of God, His name is His reputation. It is who He is. Am I, do we give honor to who he is? To be holy, is to be the highest of everything good, in a league all his own. If he is loving, than he loves the most. If he is gracious, than he is the most gracious. If he has power, than he has all of the power. If he shows mercy, than he shows more mercy than anyone ever. Is this the name whose honor I prioritize?

     Your kingdom come.

I have a note in my that says “implies an absence”. All you have to do is watch your chosen news network for two minutes to agree. I came back from Europe with this thought that I had never been more cynical or more hopeful about this world. I had just come from seeing the nasty underbelly, not all of the dark this world has to offer, more like a map that it existed in reality. I couldn’t see the depths of it, but I could point to it’s location, describe the territory a little. But I also saw relentless ambassadors of His kingdom. In every seedy neighborhood, there were people who stood like storm-drenched pillars. Refusing to give in to the darkness, they stand out like landmarks in my mind. When I am praying your kingdom come, I think of them. I’ve started coupling it with “send me”. The kingdom of God is arriving piece by piece, the more we become like Jesus. The more we establish an air of his name, his mercy, his grace, his compassion, we prepare the way. We become ambassadors.

     Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.

When we describe our own will, we talk it in terms of the things we want, the ability to will something into existence. I spend a lot of time talking to God about my will. My emotions, the things I want to exist, the things I see. It’s a concentrated exercise to ask God the same. It’s asking God how he sees it. It’s asking him where he is moving, it’s asking how he sees. What do you want here, God? What would you will into existence if you had complete complicity right now? This is our consent to see the dreams and wants of God come true on this earth.

     Give us this day our daily bread.

Give us exactly what we need. A few things stick out to me. Give us this day our daily bread. The community of God’s people is implied. It’s not “God, give me what I need”. It’s “God, give us what we need”. And it’s not for the ten years ahead or even tomorrow. This is a place I fail miserably most days. I can trust him for my abstract future, but not for my everyday needs. Instead, I try to cobble it together and it never works. This whole thing only works when this becomes my prayer. There’s an assurance, too. Remember our father? If he is our father (he is), and he is good (he is), than provider is something he’s entirely capable of. In every season, in every situation.

A Life, Half Alive

I’m done putting my hope in a king less than Jesus, or a kingdom smaller or more temporal than his. It will always be hope deferred, and in the meantime, his kingdom is coming and I just can’t bear to do anything but chase it. There is no place I’d rather be, no king (or kingdom) I’d rather lay my life down for.

      Seek first the kingdom of God. As I start to figure out life post- DTS, this is what he’s given me. As I ask God how to pray, what to ask. This is what he gives me.
Seek ME first

     I try to come up with a way to describe what he’s done. What I think he’s doing next. Why I’m doing what I’m doing. Pre-DTS, the God I was familiar with was a God I even hesitated to lay the simplest rights down for. I could have not easily have said I would give it all away for the God I knew then. I was giving it all away hoping to get something in return from anything I could, but I could never quite let go. I couldn’t hold on to the God I knew, but I could never fully let go all together. I couldn’t fully do anything. When there isn’t anything you do fully, passion and purpose are hard things to come by. A life, half alive, is hard to lay down. You can never keep it together long enough to.
I do what I do now because I have finally found a king worth laying my life down for over and over and over again. A king worth every daily, painful, joyous, wild, mundane obedience. We don’t do it because it’s our only option. Plenty of men lay down their lives for “kings” that didn’t deserve it. Kings disguised as dictators, kings disguised as protectors, as satisfiers. Kings wrapped in our own self sufficiency. But after all the kings we’ve entertained, he’s the only choice.
Kings that I have given all of me to be left with nothing are not worth the price I pay to keep them. That is not a king worth living or dying for.
It’s Israel crying out for a king. And God says, “He’ll take your kids for war.” He’ll take the things I’ve given you as gifts, to fund things I never intended to happen. And that’s a good king. A bad one will take what I’ve given you on behalf of selfish ambitions. And here’s a broken hearted God, his people have chosen a king other than him. A king who may earn earthly allegiance, and may be worth the physical life. A really good king might be worth that kind of allegiance.

Very few kings are worth the relentless surrender that our God’s splendor demands. And you’ve gotta hear God’s heart here. I want you. I want your heart, not just your sacrifice. I want your heart. I want your obedience because I have your heart. A king that wins my heart, a king of sacrifice and humility. A king who never forces, whose intentions are always good, whose mercies seem to stretch beyond all human logic.

I’ve never met an earthly king like that. I’ve never given my heart to an earthly master who owned those attributes.

I’m done putting my hope in a king less than Jesus, or a kingdom smaller or more temporal than his. It will always be hope deferred, and in the meantime, his kingdom is coming and I just can’t bear to do anything but chase it. There is no place I’d rather be, no king (or kingdom) I’d rather lay my life down for.