Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Leach Family Update Dec 2010

There's a chance you'll be receiving this letter from my mom in the mail in just a few weeks...but here you go anyways. :)

Janelle here again. Wow. Time really does fly as you get older. I remember thinking how old people who said that were. And now here I am. Feeling old. How in the world does this happen? Another year has come and gone?!

Goodness, 2011. That makes JJ 28 next June. Katie turning 27, me 25 (I just gagged!), and Joy 23- all in February. Justin turns 8 this year. Wait. That can’t be right. 21?! TWENTY ONE in April. (Oh, Lord, help us.) Surely there is something wrong with this picture.

JJ and Katie have yet ANOTHER addition to their family! Hudson William born August 13th. (Oh how I hope every “Christmas letter” contains family addition news.) Jack turned 2 in November and he and Hudson dominate the “cuteness factor” in the world. We aren’t bias. We just happen to have the most adorable boys on the face of the planet as a part of our family. No sense in denying it.

JJ’s cracking on (as they’d say in the UK) with work for Henrico County as a fire medic. He got his certification as a technical rescue specialist- wahoo! He also attended a FEMA Disaster Medical Specialist class in Texas last spring. So if you really want a visit from JJ, just make sure your geographical location has a disaster this year. He’ll come rescue you.

Katie graduated!!! We are so proud of her! She now has a Masters in Counseling Education and her degree is currently “on hold” as she raises and trains two boys. (Far more work than a full
time job.) Hudson’s arrival was a bit of a surprise, and Katie has done a great job making adjustments needed to welcome him to the world and prepare for his arrival. Her days consist of diapers, laundry, meal-making, cleaning, grocery shopping, etc. etc. etc. She is amazing at what she does!

“Jack Attack.” What a stud. He’s walking and nearly talking. He can communicate without a hitch- and if you ask me, he sees no reason to talk. We understand him, he understands us…why not just chill out? He adores his little brother and loves hugging him and kissing him. Dinosaurs and books are his favourite; especially books where you have to “find the animal.” He’s very good with his animals.

Hudson is 4 months. He doesn’t do anything but eat, poop, and drool, but he does them all WONDERFULLY and is entirely adorable! And we love him.

I have taken this year to attempt adjusting back to the American culture. It has taken even longer than expected; I miss proper sarcasm tremendously. “Rubbish, brilliant, cheers, boot, gutting and mingin’” are still consistently coming out of my mouth and unnecessary “u”s are regularly found in my spelling. I am living in Orlando with an amazing family and have begun my own “on location” business doing hair and make-up. Janelle on Location became an LLC (Limited Liability Company) officially in June. We are the preferred vendor at the David’s Bridal in Orlando and are working on continuing to build clientele. I am hiring some administrative help at the beginning of this year and cannot wait to see its effect! Feel free to take a look at my website(s): and spread the word—we travel world-wide! I’m currently saving my extra babysitting money for a trip to Wales this year- I miss the culture (and the people) so much!

Joy Leach. What a spectacular student. Joy graduated in May from Calvin College in Grand Rapids, Michigan. She enjoyed her last summer this year as the water front intern at Young Life’s Lake Champion in New York. She went to nationals this year for diving and pole vaulting AND placed top twenty in BOTH! She just finished a semester of student teaching in Chicago and is officially DONE with school! Well, as a student anyways. She got her degree in Special Education and is considering taking a teaching position in Richmond and living with JJ and Katie and the boys for a bit. Another option is to head to New York and crash with my parents to roll in the cash as a nanny before starting to settle anywhere. OR. She could take a semester to travel all over the States to visit some very-missed Young Life friends at every corner of the continent. Verdict is still out. Keep up with her at:

Justin planned to head back to ODU this fall but was last minute, unexpectedly offered a place on a travel hockey team in Massachusetts. He took the opportunity and moved right outside of Boston for a few months. After discovering dynamics were a bit different than “advertised” to him, he transferred to a team in Wilkes-Barre, Scranton (Yay for The Office!) in Pennsylvania. He is a born leader and has already improved his game so much. He’s learning a lot “about life” as he often says, and we are grateful he still has all of his teeth so far. All of this has just evidenced his love for hockey even more—it seems he’s considering a future coaching the sport or being an athletic director of some kind.

Daddy and Mommy are still in Manhattan! Daddy’s working at Columbia Presbyterian Hospital in cardiac post-operative ICU. He had some emergency surgery this summer but has recovered well and we are grateful for your prayers. He is taking classes at NYU in Nursing Administration and is enjoying that. He’s committed to learning! “Poppi” loves Jack and Hudson and he and “Mimi” visit Richmond often.

Mommy has adjusted outstandingly to life in New York City. Every time she tells me she’s getting on or off the subway I am amazed! She took a nanny job at the beginning of November (after interviewing with everyone and their mother—she was in high demand!) and immediately (as always) has fallen completely in love with the kids. There are 2- ages 2 and 6 months. “Mimi” is the best grandmother in the world and takes any and EVERY opportunity to see her grandsons. She and my dad have taken time this year to visit each of us kids in our respective cities and states. It’s always so fun to have them come into our “other worlds.”

Well, I guess that just about wraps it up for the Leach clan. I’m sure it’ll feel like tomorrow that I’m writing you about what we’re thinking 2012 will look like. We love you and hope to see you soon. Have a great year enjoying the faithful hand of God working in your life!

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Conviction vs. Preference

So maybe my definitions are wrong.

Maybe I don't understand. Maybe my perspective is off.

But I can't help but wonder at the placement we, as Christians, give the words "conviction" and "preference." Sometimes, they're interchangeable. And from my understanding...they shouldn't be.

Sometimes we mean conviction but say preference because we're fearing man. And don't want others to think we're being self-righteous or "holier than thou."

Other times we say conviction but mean preference and are judging others for being licentious or not quite as strong in their pursuit of holiness. When in reality, the Bible speaks nothing directly of the thing that we hold a "conviction" about. A synonym for conviction is "doctrine." That should open our eyes. Would we say "xyz" is our DOCTRINE?

I think a better understanding of these words and what they communicate, would do a great service to both the Church and unbelievers alike.

In my perspective, conviction needs to be based on truth. Unquestionable, unalterable, clear-as-day truth found in Scripture. A sin to not walk out. It is not dependent on culture. Or upbringing. It's irrelevant what past teaching has been on right or wrong...or even what's most comfortable to us. Conviction is from the Holy Spirit and birthed in our hearts through the Living Word of God. (At least, in my opinion.)

For example. To say we have a "conviction" about something that Scripture doesn't speak to specifically, I think is often a dis-service to our audience. A "conviction" to not be alone with someone of the opposite sex one on one. Such a preference can be great wisdom!!! But if you were kidnapped and held hostage along with someone of the opposite sex...surely that wouldn't be SIN.

In calling something a "conviction", shouldn't the isolated act or thing be sin if it is (or is not) done? Otherwise...its just a preference.

Preferences can change. And do change. Convictions should not.

A preference about when to kiss your boyfriend in your relationship, or how many beers is the limit for unique. TO YOU. Preferences cannot be put onto others-- there's no room for it. You have yours, I have mine. No judgement should be passed.

And IN those preferences, we can hold the conviction that sexual immorality is always sin. And the Bible is clear that we are not to get drunk.

But we must stop there. We can not "add to" what the Bible says is sin with our ideas of how to "best stay away" and then judge others if we think they're getting "too close."

We can prefer. We have room to. But its when we hold others to the standard of "our preference" and not the Word of God and the Word of God ALONE that we become man-centered. We develop opinions about others that are irrelevant. It doesn't matter what we think.

Life is not like facebook. You don't get to "comment."

I've had this conversation with several people in the recent past...just thought it deserved a post.

Thoughts? Comments?

Sunday, December 12, 2010

This is my best friend from High School, Vanessa. What a dear one she is to me. The kindness of one of my mom's friends driving me to Richmond a day later than I planned, enabled me to hug her neck. What an amazing gift.

Her mom was recently diagnosed with cancer, so please join me in praying for her and her family. For the promises of God to envelope their hearts, and fill them with fresh hope and faith. Each and every single day.

And this is Vanessa's little sister :) She's 8 months old. Precious Lainey Grace.

I was also able to have coffee with sweet Kelly and her darling Will. Kelly was my Girls Bible Study leader in middle school, my 10th grade Bible teacher, and a mentor for YEARS. Such a wise woman who loves the Lord. What a treat.

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Home Town

I apologize that these posts are horrendously out of order.

After Thanksgiving, I traveled to Charlottesville.

And enjoyed some Bodos with a precious friend I've known since I was 4. I haven't seen her since her wedding 2.5 years ago!

Turkey on whole wheat with muenster cheese melted, lettuce, tomato, and avocado spread.


Also. Running into people from High School.


This picture means so much to me. Jean is on the left. Judy on the right. They (and my aunt Judy) are my hairstylist heros. Up-do Queens. When I was assisting at Bristles when I was 15, they would pull me aside and teach me "tricks" and show me how to save time and achieve the same look. I respect them so much and it was a joy to see them again. It is the grace of their investment in me that I'm where I am today and loving my job.

And THESE are some wonderful High School friends. John, Karen, Lisa and Chris. It was absolutely wonderful to see them, hug their necks, and catch up. It also. made me feel very old.
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T-day Leach style

To back up a little, Thanksgiving with the Leach fam was splendid. I hadn't seen Joy in nearly 11 months- it will be a year at Christmas since I've seen Justin. Praise the Lord for the technology of cell phones. Or. "Mobiles" as my mind still calls them.

"Mimi and Poppi" as adorable and madly in love as ever.

JJ and Katie opened their home for yet ANOTHER sibling and extended family invasion.

Our new little man! Hudson William. With his aunties who were mostlikely fighting over him right before this picture. Chances are...I won.

My favourite boys in the entire universe. (How big is Jack?! I swear. The farther away you live, the faster they grow up.)

How is it that we love other human beings SO MUCH when they're "ours"...I don't get it. Can't imagine what its like to have ones that are REALLY "yours." Oh, the love. Makes the Gospel that much sweeter. Amazing that He gave His own Son, isn't it?
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The family I live with, the Morgans, took their first annual holiday trip to "East Jabib" as my dad would call it, to the snowy mountains of North Carolina to show the kids some snow.

Because they so lovingly consider me "family" in even the practicals of life...they sweetly insisted I come...while releasing me if I had work I needed to do.

Of course, I went. And we had a most wonderful time! ROAD TRIP.

Sophie and I treckin' up the mountain in a 4-wheel drive Jeep because our van wouldn't make it.

They are amazing!
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Saturday, December 4, 2010


Meet Chris and Emily. I live with them. They. Are wonderful. And if they don't kick me out before the third week of January...this will officially be the longest place I've lived in the last 6 years.

They let me have parties in their house. Often. We always have tons of dishes to wash the next morning after we pack the dishwasher full and run it overnight.

I got up early this morning to finish them (because Emily is far too eager to serve me and always beats me to it)...

...and both Emily and I woke up to the dishes being completely done- counter spotless...

and Chris left her a post-it note,

"I love you this much."

And it was so sweet, I thought the world should know.

Not only was Emily blessed and left only falling in love with her husband more, but I also am enjoying EXTRA time with the Lord this morning and savoring every second in this busy time of year.

Grace is such a sweet thing.
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Monday, November 29, 2010


I saw a wise friend this weekend.

We chatted about my last blog post. She commented wisely and humorously,

"Free counsel is worth as much as you paid for it."

Friday, November 26, 2010

"I just want you to pray."

It's so easy isn't it?

To add our two cents of what we think a friend should be doing. Or how they should view their situation or circumstance. We attempt to encourage them with truth they already know. And all they asked was for us to pray for them as they're wrestling with things.

We want to "fix" it.

We don't want them to struggle.

But. When a friend is just being human...our weak attempts of "building them up" can easily come across as input. Instruction. Even correction or minimizing of their struggle.

Years ago a wise woman once explained to me how she appealed to a "fix-it-friend" and asked if her friend could just let her struggle. She knew the truth. She was fighting to believe it. And yet, amidst her human-ness, it seemed her friend was simply bypassing the "struggle" part and wanting her to "arrive" on the other side. When what she really needed...was to be ministered to amidst and in the struggle. No rushing ahead. Simply enduring pain or forbearing circumstances. Someone to rub her back amidst all the mess and tell her, "I'm sorry." and pray with her. and for her.

She wasn't asking for a circumstantial change. Or even complaining about what was transpiring. She was asking for a friend to bear her burdens with her.

It's easy to do. We want to help. We mean well. It's only our love that's being revealed.

But when a friend is struggling, and something is difficult...when someone's grieving, or there's not really much to say...

...often we can help the most when we keep our mouths shut. When we don't try to pretend like we understand. Or explain to them how we can in some way relate.

Nope. Sometimes no words are what serve best. Letting each other be weak, and be a mess. And asking God to fill our hearts with hope and fresh faith.

I am reminded of Job and the additional agony his friends brought him amidst his need to just be cared for. I think there is so much for us to learn in this story...

And I am reminded of Jesus. And how He asked His friends to pray with Him in the Garden...the hour of His greatest need. And they fell asleep on Him. May we respond in grace as Christ did when we find ourselves on the other side of the scenario as well...

And may we learn to JUST PRAY for our loved ones when they need it.

Monday, November 15, 2010

The worst that could happen...

So, in owning my own business, I'd say the temptation to worry about "doing things right" financially has increased tremendously. What about taxes, what about marketing, what about maintaining clients...yadda yadda yadda. It feels like my "human responsibility" in life has like quadroupled.

Do you feel like that? Like you're trying to keep up with life?

I don't know what I'm doing in having this business. I feel like its what God's lead me to do for this season. So I'm doing it. But, I don't know all the laws and rules and forms and...stuff I don't even know to mention because I don't know about it...

Sure, I'm asking a lot of questions and getting a lot of help from others...but what if I miss something major?

Today I drove around running errands, and verbally confessed aloud once again my anxiety. Repenting. Asking God to help me trust Him. Confessing to Him that I know He is not looking to trip me up, and repenting of my wrong thoughts about Him. He sees my heart- my desire to be honest and be above reproach...and He can be trusted. He provides financially out of no where EVEN when I mess up.

My mind has been racing about how much I could owe (even though every person who's helped me has assured me I'm doing things right and this should be no problem for me), feeling a burden to save every single penny I'm making "just in case..." etc. etc. Anxiety.

Then. In the Holy Spirit's kindness, I had a thought just moments ago, "So, what's the worst they could do to me?"

"They" being the IRS when it comes to tax season. Or some business regulator somewhere. Or. Something. Someone who's big and powerful and wants my money. Who wants to destroy me. And my business.

I followed that through. "They could fine me tons and tons of money. Like. Enough money that I couldn't ever pay it back in my lifetime. Even if I worked all day everyday for the rest of my life."

"Ok." I thought to myself. "Then what?"

"Well...then I'd live a whole life in debt." (yes, you are reading about me talking to myself :)

"Ok. And...then...?"

"I'd die...and go be with Jesus forever."

Oh. huh.

Doesn't sound so bad.

Immediately Romans 8 was running through my mind..."If God is for us, who can be against us?" and "What can mortal man do to me?"

There is one enemy: Satan. He wants to destroy me for real. Destroy my faith and my soul. He won't do that by emptying my wallet (or, maybe he will try) but he will pester me and bother me and bug me until I am anxious and worried and fretting...even when the Most Powerful Sovereign King of the Universe has come to this lowly earth to bear my sin and shame, redeem me, and give me life eternal with Him. This God's ways cannot be thwarted. I am His daughter. And I have been promised His faithfulness.

I then want to look at Satan and say, "HA! BRING IT ON!"

Talk about perspective change. Glory to God.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Hope-filled waiting.

You're waiting. I know you are. Because you're human.

You're waiting on something. Or someone. Waiting for a circumstance to change. Or to receive "news" or an "answer". You're waiting on someone to change. Maybe to repent. Or waiting for someone to find you and want to marry you. You're waiting for the next season and wondering what it will be like.

Maybe it's news from a doctor about a diagnosis. Maybe you're waiting for your friend to desire reconciliation too. Waiting for your parents to finally start letting you wear make-up. Or to have a later curfew. Maybe you don't know what you're waiting for and you feel like the "best part" of your life is over.

Lately, as I've been thinking about the things I'm waiting on, God has been impressing it upon my heart to pray that my waiting would be hope-filled.

Hope does not put us to shame. Fact.

See, waiting isn't bad. It's apart of life. It doesn't mean we're discontent. But what we wait ON and what our hope is IN...will reveal our hearts and where our trust lies.

Immediately I recall Ps. of my favourite verses in the entire Bible.

"For God alone my soul waits in silence. From Him comes my salvation."

I am SURE I've written a post on this verse (or chapter of the Bible) before. At least once. So for right now, I will just highlight the words "alone" and "silence". ::long pause:: Ugh. I can't. I can't stop there. We can't wait for God alone and in silence until we know who this God is...and there He is! In the next sentence...from THIS God comes SALVATION.

SALVATION. Being saved. He initiates this. He completes it. He finishes it-- sees it all the way through. Not my idea: His. Not in my control: in His. In our waiting we mustn't put our hope IN circumstances or people changing. We hope IN GOD as we wait. THIS God. The God of salvation.

Hope in Him alone. AND. Without a word. No questions. No suggestions. Watching Him work without a thing to say because we so trust His hand. And timing.

And hope does not put us to shame. We will not be ashamed at any point in our lives because we were "hoping" and we shouldn't've been...

...that is. If our hope is in the right place.

Whats the difference? Well. If I'm hoping in circumstances...maybe that looks like hoping I'm married by a certain age. Or a specific situation has a certain outcome. I would be embarrassed if I boldly walked around declaring "Something was going to be as such" because I was "hoping" in it...and hope wouldn't put me to shame. Uh...NEGATIVE. That's not what Paul is getting at. We are to hope in GOD. Hope in the PROMISES of God.

So instead, I have hope not that I will be married by a certain age, but I hope in His promise that He has plans for me. He knows them. They're for good. Not harm. To prosper me. To give me (EVEN MORE!) hope. And a future.

THAT. Will never put me (or you) to shame.

We can have hope that in our affliction...His Word will give us life.

Hoping in the truth that this present not worth the glory that is to be revealed.

I can soar with hope as I anticipate God not doing an "old thing"...but a new thing in my life. (Isaiah 43:18-19)

What are your favourite promises of God? What do you enjoy hoping in?

As we wait, let's "link arms" together in the promises of God. Reminding each other of the glories that we have to HOPE IN...

...that will never put us to shame.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Lies vs. Truth

Envision this:

Christ looked in Judas' eyes when being betrayed. The Saviour stood there as ungodly, wicked men stood around Him waiting to sin against Him grievously. Essentially foaming at the mouth to devour Him. And in that very moment of utter rejection and treachery, Jesus looked at His enemy and said, "Friend, do what you came to do."

Wow. I will never get over Jesus calling Judas "friend" here. Ever. Not in this moment. I cannot comprehend the mercy demonstrated in that one word…

And Christ continues, "Do what you came to do.” He essentially communicates, "No matter what you do to me-- I trust what God will do through even your sin." UGH that hits home. Can I say that to a friend sinning against me…in the moment they’re sinning? Can I stare my circumstances in the face and say, "Do what you came to do..." while viewing that circumstance as a FRIEND...whom God will use to do good in my life...even when it hurts so bad?

What is it for you? What feels like your enemy?

Are you being treated unjustly? Do you have a wayward child who refuses to listen? Is your marriage in shambles with seemingly no hopes for recovery? Do you experience chronic pain every moment of every day? Are you willing to work hard and unable to find a job anywhere? Weary in your singleness as another friend walks down the aisle? Tired of training your children who just don't seem to be changing at all?

What circumstance feels like your enemy right now?

…and then we pile on the lies.

Does God really know what He's doing? Doesn't He know this isn't what I asked for? The Bible says this desire is good…didn't God get the memo? Doesn't He see how He'd get so much glory if He just ______?

Did God really say not to eat the fruit of any tree in the garden?

Huh. Sounds familiar. The character of God is assaulted point blank; no denying it...since chapter 3 of Genesis. And the Liar isn’t very creative. He’s using the same stuff. And sadly, it works. We totally buy into it.

He confuses us about who’s our friend…and what’s our enemy. Even though God has always been faithful…our first thought is to doubt His faithfulness. God has always been wise, yet…we question His wisdom. He predestined that He’d have to send His Son to die for us…and He still created us—yet, we wonder if He loves us really.

Oh, would we trust who He is. Even when circumstantially we cannot see. Trusting His character. His promises. His grace to sustain us. To carry us. To bear us up. To do that which we cannot even imagine to pray.

It is with each doubt and question that we must embrace an opportunity to allow the enemy to do the very opposite of what he wants...preach the Gospel to us.

You see, when we question the wisdom, love, power and timing of God...our distrust is cured instantly if we consider the cross. And we can take these lies...these questions...the temptation to be suspicious of God...and we can walk straight to the Gospel. We can let the enemy create a pathway with which we then answer the questions with hard-fact evidence that God really is who He says He is; He's really worthy of trust. And we expose the lie for what it is.

For His thoughts...are not our thoughts. Oh! Would we learn to be comfortable believing this when we have no evidence of circumstantial change!

We are told that nothing can separate us from His love. Not things present. Not things to come. No current circumstance or fear of what’s ahead. Even when we walk in unbelief in His promises…He is still faithful to keep them. I love this about God.

So whatever it is you are facing today, and in this moment...may I encourage you? Keep going. Keep talking to yourself. Keep speaking Truth. Find the root of your doubt about God...or the aspect of His character you are suspicious about-- and flee to Scripture. Study how strongly God reveals Himself as your Loving Father, Compassionate Friend, Strong Helper, Wise Leader, Peace-Giver....etc. etc. And embrace the grace He's giving you in this trial. May it be sweet and rich to your soul. And enjoy being carried by Him through this.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Can't preach the Gospel to Jesus.

So the other day I started thinking...

...and. These thoughts are still brewing around in my brain. They might not be well-put-together quite yet...but...I was thinking about the things we (as believers) usually encourage each other in when we're struggling.

We point to the cross and declare that we've been forgiven and are loved...and will never know wrath. No condemnation...even though we deserve it.

We preach forgiveness, and grace. Mercy and healing.

We are compassionate as we hear other's difficulties and consider similar struggles and temptations in our own lives.

We remember peace that is ours...because we're reconciled to God.

Once we were we are children.

And usually, we end reminding ourselves that no matter how bad it is, God is sovereign and He won't leave us. He is with us. And will stay with us through whatever we're walking through...

Then I began to think about Jesus. In the Garden of Gethsemane. The temptation to fear that must've lurked over him as He sweat blood.

I thought to myself, "What did Jesus comfort Himself with in those moments as He prayed the cup pass from Him?"

Did He say, "God is with me, and He won't forsake me." No. He couldn't. He was about to be forsaken...and He knew that. Gosh. How scary...that the One He'd known perfect communion with since eternity past...would reject Him. The Father wouldn't be with Him. Couldn't. He was becoming sin...and the Father is Holy. Christ couldn't look ahead to the pain He knew He was about to endure and think, "I can call upon the Father"...because the Father was going to punish Him. He actually WAS going to be all alone.

Did He remember, "Peace is mine because I'm declared righteous." No. He couldn't. Even though HIS righteousness was earned by HIMSELF (and mine is granted to me by another)...he didn't have that comfort. Peace wasn't His! There was nothing to "comfort" Himself with! this...He did not sin.

It's backwards.

We fear and we've been promised God's nearness.

Christ knew He'd be rejected and still...didn't fear. He trusted the Father's wisdom anyways. This...we will never experience. We will never be called to trust God AND be rejected by Him. We are called to trust Him and we are promised His nearness to us.

The Gospel is backwards to Jesus. If we were there in the garden with Christ...we could not encourage Him with the things we encourage our own hearts with.

He'd known (and deserved) only love from the Father, but got wrath instead.

He received undeserved condemnation.

He was perfect and was "unjustly" being punished.

Though He gave perfect mercy and forgiveness to those in His life, He was receiving anger.

He was a child, and now was being treated as a sinner.

And...He still obeyed. He still endured the wrath of God. All alone. So we wouldn't have to.

I'm amazed.

The Gospel is for every man that ever walked this planet...except for Christ. He is the only One who could not find comfort in the truths that we find comfort in. And is because of Him, and because of this...that we are able to have comfort at all.

Oh, may we respond in worship! He is King!

So...what do you think? Have you considered this? Is there something I'm missing? Something that needs to be added?

Sunday, October 24, 2010

If God loved me, He would... would you finish the sentence?

Give me a job. car. more money to pay the bills. Heal my family member. Reconcile my family. Bring peace to my marriage. Get me a spouse. Give me a child. Save my son/daughter. He would've given me a different past. or upbringing. He wouldn't've let ______ happen. What would you say?

The truth is. God does love you. And though He will continue to demonstrate His love, it HAS been demonstrated. And to its fullest degree...already.

The question is wrong.

God does love you. And He has given you His Son as a propitiation for your sins. He has adopted you and given you a beautiful inheritance...when you deserved separation from Him...and His wrath.

This week, as I've meditated on and studied Psalm 16, I have found my joy and freedom increasing. And. I've watched as God answers my prayer to grow my trust in Him more. As I talked with a friend tonight I felt like I was having an out of body experience. I listened to what I was saying and thought, "Wait. Where is this coming from? How come I'm having faith in what God will do? Why is it so easy to trust Him in this?" I deduced that friends must be praying for me...and I'm sure they are.

I then realized, "Oh! I've been studying this. WOW! It must be taking root in my heart- thank you, GOD!" Worship was the result of seeing God's faithfulness again: His Word does not return void.

This week, as I meditated on, "You hold my lot" and "I have no good apart from you"...many MANY helpful nuggets were concluded as "results" of these glorious truths. God's character is revealed here...let's not miss it.

HE holds my lot. I don't hold it. I don't even know it! I don't know what's ahead. I don't know what He's doing. But. I have a beautiful inheritance. No matter what I do...I cannot change God's plan for my life. eternity is secure. I can't manipulate Him. I can't "try harder" to fulfill my own desires in this life. Nope. It's in His hands. He's holding it. And He knows me. And my desires. And He's worthy of trust. ::Rejoice::

"I have no good apart from you." Oh my. This has been the sentence most demanding pause this week.

No good apart from you. Not, "...ya, this is probably what's best." or, "You give what's #1." No, not even that! NO GOOD APART. I don't just have "less good" apart from God. And blessings aren't just "better" because of Him. No. NO GOOD APART from Him.

IN Him contains all my good.

And then. It hit me.

That which He withholds, is equally as intentional and a demonstration of His love as that which He gives.

"Wow," I wondered. "Is that true? Is that Biblically sound?" He WITHHOLDS intentionally. On purpose. And He withholds as a demonstration of His love. It would be UNLOVING for Him to give me that which is not good for me. Amazing. helpful! This allows me such freedom to enjoy that which I DO have...and equally, to enjoy that which I do NOT have...and submit to His wisdom, love, care, and truth...because I have no good apart from Him.

So. What's your lot today? Do you see His love for you? In what you have...and in what you don't have. That which you do not have...that you you see that it's because He loves you that it is not yours? If something is good for you...I mean, really, for your soul...then, it is yours. He does not restrain His mercy from us. He loves to bless us. He delights to answer our requests.

Just as a father who bought a car for his son, would not give it to him when he was 8 years old...he has no use for it! It would be dangerous for him. The timing is not right. But at 16, oh, what a gift that would be! So much more appreciated and appropriate.

Sometimes, (who am I kidding?) MOST of the time, we don't understand "why not." Why is something not good now?

But that's where faith and trust come in. The very means that God chose to save us. We must exercise those muscles. Work them and let them grow.

Whatever our lot, would we take refuge in the Truth that we have no good apart from Him. He has planned good and not harm for us. He sees and we cannot. He knows and we do not. Why fight it? Why struggle with it? Submit to His will, and joy will be ours.

May you know this freedom and peace today...

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Faithful God

Here is my favourite excerpt from probably my third favourite book ever. (That's a really big deal.) It's by Spurgeon and titled, "All of Grace." A friend from Wales, Emily, got it for me last Christmas.

"God is faithful, by whom ye were called unto the fellowship of His Son Jesus Christ."
1 Corinthians 1:9 (emphasis mine)

"The apostle does not say, "You are faithful." The faithfulness of man is very unreliable; it is mere vanity. He does not say, "You have faithful ministers to lead and guide you, and therefore I trust you will be safe." Oh, no! If we are kept by men we shall be badly kept. He says, "God is faithful." If we are found faithful, it will be because God is faithful. On the faithfulness of our covenant God the whole burden of our salvation must rest. On this glorious attribute of God the matter hinges. We are variable as the wind, frail as a spider's web, weak as water. No dependence can be placed upon our natural qualities or our spiritual attainments, but God abideth faithful."

Ok, if that's not good enough. Listen to how he gets specific.

"He is faithful in His love; He know no variableness, neither shadow of turning. He is faithful to His purpose; He does not begin a work and then leave it undone. He is faithful to His relationships. As a Father He will not renounce His children, as a Friend He will not deny His people, as a Creator He will not forsake the work of His own hands. He is faithful to His promises and will never allow one of them to fail for a single believer. He is faithful to His covenant which He has made with us in Christ Jesus and ratified with the blood of His sacrifice. He is faithful to His Son and will not allow His precious blood to be spilled in vain. He is faithful to His people whom He has promised eternal life and from whom He will not turn away." (emphasis mine)

Hallelujah. ::Rejoice::

Spurgeon later notes,

"The saints shall persevere in holiness because God perseveres in grace.

He perseveres to bless, and therefore believers persevere in being blessed."


Saturday, October 9, 2010

Personal Retreat October

I've been trying to go on a personal retreat about every 3 months. This weekend I stayed with some friends in an entirely cute apartment at the beach. It was glorious. What an absolutely precious time with the LORD-- meditating on Scripture, bathing in truth, having my favourite lyrics minister to me again and again on wonderful. And in addition to that, catching a few rays wasn't so bad either.

This (below) poem was such an encouragement to me this weekend. I've read it numerous times. A dear friend sent it to me in an email yesterday and I can't stop thinking about it.

When other people blog quotes or songs or poems, I normally don't read I don't expect you to either. But, in case your heart is hungry...

...feast here:

i know not what awaits me,
God kindly veils my eyes,
and o’er each step of my onward way
He makes new scenes to rise;
and every joy He sends me comes
a sweet and glad surprise.

where He may lead i’ll follow,
my trust in Him repose;
and every hour in perfect peace,
i’ll sing, “He knows, He knows”;
and every hour in perfect peace,
i’ll sing, “He knows, He knows.”

one step i see before me,
’tis all i need to see,
the light of heaven more brightly shines
when earth’s illusions flee;
and sweetly through the silence comes,
His loving, “Trust in Me!”

oh, blissful lack of wisdom,
’tis blessed not to know;
He holds me with His own right hand,
and will not let me go,
and lulls my troubled soul to rest
in Him who loves me so.

so on i go not knowing;
i would not if i might;
i’d rather walk in the dark with God
then go alone in the light;
i’d rather walk by faith with Him
than go alone by sight.

_mary brainard

Thursday, October 7, 2010

"Now on whom dost thou trust?"

My sweet dad emailed me this morning. A quote from Spurgeon on trust. I decided to disect it for my time with the Lord this morning.

Spurgeon beckons the Christian...- who do you trust? You trust a triune God.

who chose me from before the foundations of the world.
who provides for me in His providence.
who teaches.
will bring me Home.

The SON.
very God of very God.
Christ Jesus.
who takes away all my sins.
who is my sacrifice.
adorns me with His perfect righteousness.
my Intercessor. Pleading my cause. And my desires.
my Advocate on the Great Last Day.
justifies me.

"I trust Him for what He is, for what He has done, and for what He has promised yet to do."

saves me from my sins.
drives out my sins.
subdues my will.
enlightens my understanding.
comforts me.
helps my weakness.
illuminates darkness.

"I trust in Him to dwell in me as my life, to reign in me as my King, to sanctify me wholly, spirit, soul, and body, and then to take me up to dwell with the saints in light forever."

power will never be exhausted.
love will never wane.
kindness will never change.
faithfulness will never fail.
wisdom will never be nonplussed.
perfect goodness can never diminish.

[The foundation of this trust shall never be removed.]


We trust God...because of who He is. We see who He is by what He's said and what He's done. We also see what He's doing. And what He will do-- because He cannot be unfaithful to His promises. And here...we find hope. And hope is one of the things that separates us from the world. Unbelievers cannot hope. Only we can. Because we don't believe circumstances dictate our steps...but that a Holy, Sovereign, Loving, Wise God does. And we trust Him. The One who calms the storms with a word.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Rich Joy.

To say this season of life is rich with joy feels like a tremendous understatement.

God is more beautiful to me, His promises more comforting, and His character a greater source of hope and joy than I've ever known before...and it continues to increase.

God does not change. He has not. He will not. He is not spiteful. Or ever trying to "catch me" or "trick me" or manipulate me. He hears my prayers. He sees my heart. He knows my desires. He has promised me His faithfulness. And His leading.

The Gospel is the source of all joy. If I'm in a relationship, or single. If I have money in the bank, or not. If I get married and my future husband ends up being faithful to me. or not. If my marriage is enjoyable. or a constant challenge. If I have kids. or not. If they are physically, mentally, spiritually well....or not. GOD is the same. My salvation is secure. The King rules and reigns! And I will be communing with Him and enjoying His character and delighting in His nature as long as I live. Whatever that life looks like.

While the relationship I'm in right now often (and regularly) serves as a catapult to push me into the arms of God- wrapped in His promises and enjoying His relationship with a boy could never replace my relationship with God. (Though, it can and is an agent that I am so grateful for...and I attribute much of this perspective and the resulted joy to great leadership.) It's funny how though I've heard this a thousand times from people, experiencing it has surprised me.

My life is about worshiping, adoring, and extolling Jesus Christ. THAT...will never change. The fundamental things about my life will remain the same as circumstances surely will be a constant change.


After writing about these things in my journal, I came across Psalm 91- to which I so identified with the Psalmist.
Starting in vs. 14: "Because he holds fast to me in love, I will deliver him; I will protect him, because he knows my name. When he calls to me, I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble; I will rescue him and honour him. With long life I will satisfy him and show him my salvation."

AH! Isn't it so good?! The promises of God that wrap around us and hold us so tightly. His character revealed in each one. Such hope! Such joy!

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

The promised "what" with no "how"...

A recent Bible reading plan brought me to Genesis 12. Here, the Lord has met me, encouraged me, and greatly challenged me. Allow me to share with you my notes.

"Go...I will show you." (This is what God tells Abram to do: Leave his country. And trust God. With no specifics or directions.)

God doesn't paint pictures to explain what our futures will look like. He will show us along the way. This keeps us near to Him and depending on Him and communing with Him.

God promises the "what" to Abram. ("I will make you a great nation and I will bless you and make your name great, so that you will be a blessing.") But He doesn't tell him "how."

So He does with us.

"I will never leave you. I will provide for your every need. Good and not harm is your future. I will be faithful when you are faithless. I will act in your life. I will carry you. I will comfort you."

...but we don't know how. What will it look like?

But we read, "So Abram went."

THIS was the man of whom it was said his faith is counted to him as righteousness. THIS is the man who's faith is in the character of God. He did not ask, "how?"...but trusted the "what."

When Abram got to Shechem and the Lord made a promise, "To your offspring I will give this land"....Abram built an altar. I am amazed that in the midst of all of this, Abram wasn't looking for God. He wasn't wandering past Canaan trying to "figure out" what God was going to do, or asking hundreds of questions. He wasn't searching for a specific place to dedicate to his descendants. But God lead him (without him knowing, really) to the exact place God planned to promise to his descendants. Psalm 62 says, "For God alone, my soul waits in silence." When I REALLY heart is silent. I have no questions, concerns, suggestions or recommendations for God. I trust Him.

And an ESV study note reads: "To obey, Abram must trust God implicitly; all human support is largely removed."

Just a few chapters later, Abraham's faith causes him to "rise early" after being told "Take your son, your only son whom you love...offer an offering..."

After passing this test, an angel of the LORD said, "now I know that you fear God."

Oh! May this be true in our own hearts! LORD, grow my fear of you. And in light of that, may my fear of man dissipate...teach me to trust what you say without wondering how exactly you'll be faithful...

Friday, September 10, 2010

Guarding vs. Protecting

So. There's a difference.

Between trying to protect ourselves and guarding our hearts.

When I guard my heart, I guard against sin.

When I protect myself, I protect from pain.

I try to control. I don't trust God. I don't trust that even if He chooses to bring pain, He will comfort me in it and carry me.

When we put our TRUST IN God, and commit our way to Him...He acts. He is our Protector and our Shield. And He is worthy of our trust.

This, I am learning in a new and glorious way as God has been revealing different areas of deep-rooted fear I didn't know existed. A desire to control. Figure out. Manipulate. Have an answer for.

Nope. Surrender is the only option. Well, other than misery.

Rejoicing at what the Gospel reveals about the heart and character of God...and loving that it never changes.


Wednesday, August 25, 2010

MY girls

Tonight was a night I've been waiting 7 months for...a Middle School group of girls!!!

I can't tell you how much I miss my LIFE girls in Wales (oh, it could make me cry) but it is with new joy and fresh faith that I embrace these new precious faces as "mine" for this season.

Metro Youth is the name of our Middle School, the abbreviation is "MY"...which, I find endearing because I get to call them MY girls. :)

Olivia, Emily, Meaghan, Kylie, Summer, Megan, Lauren, Claire and Hannah are now on the prayer list!

"Remember not the former things, nor consider the things of old; behold, I am doing a new thing- now it springs forth, do you not perceive it?" Isaiah 43:18

Excited about and expecting what God will do...

Monday, July 26, 2010

Business and a Boy.

Oh my goodness. It has been too long.

In the last month or so, I feel like I've settled so much back into life in the States. Janelle on Location has officially become an LLC (that's a real-life company...wahoo!), and has its own bank account. I got a really exciting advertising lead from David's Bridal Corporate last week-- I'll keep you posted: but might even be more than I can handle. ::smile::

I've purchased a car (miracles- thank you for praying) for nearly half of what I budgeted for; I've got Florida tags (pretty exciting-- thats a first for me)...and a "new normal" has really begun to set in. Relationships are forming-- some new, some faces are being met, people being added to the church...

God is up to much. It's all very exciting.

A dear friend turned into a boyfriend a few weeks ago-- JP. I'm having so much fun enjoying this season. He came to Metro a year and a half ago when I was in Wales and became friends with a bunch of my friends while I was away. The Lord is currently using JP to teach me more about Himself and the Gospel. Did I mention I'm having so much fun? :)

I would describe this season as feeling like I'm under a gigantic waterfall of earthly blessings. So much "settling" in my finances (thank you, Katherine Peschau) and just culturally after being in the UK is taking place...and ah, its such a gift.

God is the same no matter what season we're in. When I'm suffering, I'm called to enjoy Him. When I'm lonely I'm called to enjoy Him. When I'm tired and weary...guess what? I'm called to enjoy Him.

Same goes for seasons of blessing. Prosperity. "Ease." I am called to enjoy Him.

The Gospel just seems to get better and the steadfastness of God continues to "not-change."

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Blessings and Curses.

A lot of earthly blessings in this life are curses as well.

With every new technological advance, we can do something "cooler"...but we also lose a bit of relationship with others its seems, too.


A word that rolls off numerous tongues every day. "Oh ya, I saw that on facebook." There are blessings. There are curses.

But. I wanted to tell you of a blessing. Due to facebook, I have been able to keep in touch with a couple of girls from Bettws who are sending me messages about what is going on in their life.

One in particular, provides ample opportunity to share the Gospel with her every time I respond.

Please pray for her lost soul. And wisdom for my eyes, ears, and mind. This seems to be my only relational evangelistic opportunity at the moment.

Friday, June 4, 2010

A different perspective...

I miss Wales a lot today. I feel home-sick.

As I've been pondering, mulling over and considering during my on-going transition, many things have come to light. And yet. Many many things still baffle me-- and always will. I've found great freedom in recent days that I don't need to understand it all. Ever. It's ok to cry and not know why. It's ok that some things are really difficult and I'm at a loss to words for an explanation. No clue. It's good that some things culturally or relationally are a fun challenge to attempt to grasp...but am I willing to rest in a more glorious thing than understanding: TRUST?

It seems like sin is spoken of in a different way here. Maybe not in America as a whole. Or even Metro as a whole. Maybe just in my circles. But different, nonetheless.

It appears as though when "anger" or "impatience" or various "actions" of sin are spoken of...its then that the horror of these things is explained by another. As motivation to help a fellow brother or sister to put to death that sin in their lives, I think.

What I'm beginning to enjoy is the freedom to not look so intently at the "actions." For Christ Himself calls us to examine our hearts.

I'm seeing that many of my personal current temptations are directly related to my lack of trust in God. I'm impatient because I think I must do that which God "clearly isn't working in." Ha! Or I'm angry because I'm not in control. And others "just don't get it."

Hearing of how despicable and awful my sin is...and how wrong it is...doesn't motivate me to change. Nor does it even really convict me. Instead, I meet condemnation.

No. It's in my moments of struggle that I need to hear the precious, glorious, comforting truth that God reigns. He is over all. He is in control. And He loves me.

Wanna know how much?

So much that He gave His Only Son for me. I need to hear, "Take comfort, friend. He will never leave you nor forsake you."

I need the Gospel. I need grace.

And if I had to sum up in one word what I learned in Wales...that's what it would be. I learned of grace. Grace that is bigger than I ever knew. Grace that is more powerful than I ever thought or imagined. Grace that comforts the deepest hurts. Grace that changes the proudest hearts.

And it is this grace that I cling to and love. It is this grace that offers hope for me...and for you. It is this grace that I commit to preach until the day I die. By grace is how I live.

I pray you are enjoying grace today...

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

"Is it really that different?!"

The British vs. American cultures, I mean.

This has become my least favourite question to hear.

Yes. It is.

I can't tell you what a temptation this question is to me. I immediately have to start talking to myself. "It's ok. They don't know."

I spoke with someone this week who went away as a family for 9 months and then came back. They were told, that it would take them a year to adjust to being back "home." With relational changes, changes in themselves, etc.

I can't tell you how freeing and helpful that was to hear. I was gone 16 months. And in another country, too. There is grace to adjust slowly. I don't have to pretend. Or tell others I'm "there." Nope. I'm here. Weak. Confused a lot of the time. Mis-communicating with everyone and their mother. And NOT adjusted to America yet. And yes, I spent 22 1/2 years of my life here.

As I sat around eating brownies with some friends tonight, I began to see a glimpse of just HOW British I became while away. To hear their confusion/slight frustration with my short and abrupt answers to their questions made me chuckle. I remember feeling that way about everyone else!

I watched them begin to process this new "me" I guess you could say. More reserved. Quiet. Not free to express my opinion unless asked. They asked lots of questions. And seemed so perplexed.

I can't imagine how hard it is for them. I didn't just "go away" and then "come back." No. I went to another world. I became part OF that world. And now I'm back but I'm an alien. That's what it feels like.

I can't explain to you what its like to adjust culturally. It's beyond words. I can't paint a picture for you of the various have to see for yourself.

What I CAN tell you is: There's grace. Grace when I feel mis-heard. Mis-understood. Sad and not able to detect exactly why. Just really craving tea and biscuits. Missing British humor and being so un-impressed with American wit.
etc. etc.

Thank you for your prayers. I need them.
My transition is going so much smoother having had Jo visit. She helped in ways that...oh man. I can't even describe. Our constant cultural conversations. Her observations and thoughts after interactions in a group...invaluable wisdom.

Thank you, Jo. Miss you.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Trusting in love.

Yay! Jo is here! What a wonderful time it has been with this precious friend. Oh how she serves me. Ah. The kindness of God. What wonderful timing. This trip has been so excellently placed in my continuing "transition" back to the States. Jo has faithfully poured grace upon me since she arrived: lavishing me with gospel love and encouragement. I am praying the ash around Iceland gets bad again so she can stay a bit longer.

Her visit has made me see that I've really hardly transitioned culturally and relationally. It makes us both laugh at times. Her insight has been like valuable treasure to me.

I thought I'd take a minute to share with you my journal entry from this morning, as the promises of Scripture seemed especially sweet to my soul today. As my subconscious often wonders what part of the world I live in, and I am still very much sorting out life in the States...these words filled my heart with peace.

"But I have trusted in your steadfast love; my heart shall rejoice in your salvation. I will sing to the Lord because He has dealt bountifully with me." Psalm 13:5

"Oh, this is good. I must trust IN His steadfast love. Love that never waivers- I must trust IN it. Trust. That means: have faith. Rest in. Anticipate. Hope upon. Expect from.



His love.

But not just any kind of love...steadfast love. Un-moving. Sturdy. The same: in Wales, in America, in each and every season. Including now.

God is not waiting for me to change. Or transition culturally or relationally. No. He has ordained this long transition and stumbling around. He wants to reveal His love to me. He wants to care for me. He loves to do it. He does not leave me to care for myself. This love has no variation or shadow due to change.

I CAN trust it. It's not going anywhere. It's not moving. It's not changing.

THIS...seeing His love, and then TRUSTING in it...because its steadfast...makes my heart REJOICE in salvation. Rejoicing because I see what I once was: an enemy of God. And what I now am: His child. Ransomed. Adopted. made a daughter of the King. Justified and made new and then adopted. Ah. Brought into family. Not foster-care. Not one home to another to another: No.


Legal. Irreversible. Final. I rejoice in this when I trust in the steadfast love of God.

'I will sing to the LORD because He has dealt bountifully with me.'

Sing. Bursting into song. Rejoicing. Celebrating. Glory-ing in. Enjoying. Delighting in. Worshiping. Almost like its an overflow of fullness or satisfaction.

God, help me to trust in your steadfast love today. I need you. I need your help-- and you've made me thus. Help me enjoy my human-ness. "

Monday, May 3, 2010

"Success" in relationships.

What deems your relationships as "successful" or not worth the energy?

For me, the answer to this question changed my life about a year ago.

God does not measure the "success" of a relationship based on what the relationship looks like in and of itself. Whether there's restoration or reconciliation. If communication is good or bad. If you're "on the same page" or reading totally different books. Those things can only happen by Him, yes. But I believe that Scripture argues...that "success" is not limited to only that.

There is success when I remember the promise of forgiveness I've made, and pray that the LORD would help me keep my promise. Success is when, "as far as it depends on me-[I] live peaceably with all." Success is overlooking an offense...again. Success is when I love- biblically defined. Patience. Kindness. Joy. Gentleness. Each and every time, God sees THAT as "success."

Why would I attempt to give myself the job of say, being the "Restorer" when I have no control over another's heart?!

So, when you are tempted to whisper (or scream) the words, "What's the point?! It doesn't even matter...!" I urge, I urge US: reconsider. Possibly re-adjust our definition of what "matters." How would God define "success" in this relationship?

Your efforts might not "matter" in that they aren't changing anything (or anyone) to make your life easier. But God DOES see your work, effort, prayers, and pains. And if He's called you to this relationship...He will give you the grace to be faithful. (And remember: your faithfulness does not equal reconciliation. It means success for you.) And this can only happen by GRACE.

We are called to rest our hearts in Him. Trust....that is active. Active rest.


Sunday, May 2, 2010

"Confused? It's because I love you."

God is faithful to repeat Himself. He knows my mind forgets. My heart grows faint. My body grows weary. He remembers that I am dust.

This morning during our church meeting, I was encouraged. The last five-ish years have been confusing. Lots of abrupt, "drastic" (for lack of a better term) seasonal or relational changes. Overnight, literally. Sharp turns in the road that were very unexpected. Time and time and time again.

Why, Lord? Why all the homes? Why the sojourning? Why the pain in relationships? Why so many life-altering changes?

No one else has any answers for me. Those who know my seasons well tell me time and again that "this is unusual." Or "it doesn't make sense." It really does encourage me to hear that these last years seem to be an "exception" in their difficulty. Like...its not "normal" to have events like this happen in such close proximity. (but what is normal, really?)

And yet, this morning I was told the answer once again. The answer to my confusion. The answer I've heard in and out of each and every single one of the painful or challenging seasons.

"It's because I love you."

God has marked each step. Brought me to all the "green pastures" and "quiet waters"- whatever form they have taken. This was all on purpose.

God is jealous for my heart. He wants all of it. He wants all of me. And the reason He wants all of me: is because He knows thats what will give me MOST JOY. And He wants that. My happiness. My peace. My gladness. He is for me.

Why the pain? Because He loves me. Not in some kind of twisted way. It's real love. Affectionate love. Not just "wanting me to learn" so I'll change. No, compassionate love. Tender love. Grace-filled love.

He wants to show me the depths of His grace and comfort. Why confusing relational challenges? Because Jesus is the only True Friend. He is the Only One who keeps His promises. Why the homes? It's not just to teach me. It's not just an opportunity for wisdom to be imparted to me: though, both of those things are dearly and greatly treasured and I wouldn't trade them for anything. It's because He loves me. The Gospel has become my home.

And while I'm not currently in a season of trial or great pain, it is good to consider these things.

I must enjoy this present season of prosperity and not "wish" I was struggling so I'd grow in other ways. No. I must be grateful in this season and delight in all it's blessings.

Yet, I find it helpful to remember, God's love is not expressed in my circumstances; ie: if things are good, He loves me, and if things are hard, He's upset. No. His love was expressed on the cross.

"When the sun is shining down on me and the world's all as it should be" or "When the road's marked with suffering and there's pain in the offering"...still: Blessed be His Name.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

How am I?

So many have asked. Thank you.

I am doing well. Still, very much adjusting. I mentioned that to someone this weekend and their response was, "Still?! Haven't you been back for a really long time?"

Four months is 1/4 of the time I was away...maybe I'll never feel "adjusted." But yeah. I feel like I've not been back long at all.

Business is building. Doing well. The last few weeks, VERY well. Hairstyling is a very roller coaster-y job. Some weeks are slammed, some are incredibly slow. I've recently been slammed. Praise God.

I am in need of a car, so am saving saving saving those pennies- but lots of pennies are coming in! I've been able to build some good relationships that I'm hoping will continue to grow into Gospel opportunities.

The family I live with is wonderful. They have re-arranged their lives and schedules joyfully and with great enthusiasm to loan me a car every day of the week if I need one. This is no small thing. Their willingness to be inconvenienced is not only making my business possible, but it's making living in the STATES possible. That is no exaggeration.

I would love your prayers for a good car. :)

These are the two areas I feel like I've "settled in" quite a bit: at home and with my job. Every other area the jury is still out on. Relationships, how to serve the local church, mentoring and being discipled, evangelism...

I'll never have all of these "figured out"...but a rhythm will begin to form at some point. Who am I to be building friendships with? How exactly can I serve the teen girls at Metro? Who should I be pouring into? etc. etc. Lots of question marks. But its wonderful!

97% of this season is joyous, beautiful, glorious, and genuinely just enjoying life. 3% is difficult and challenging at times. Those times are few and far between. And those few and far between times are always rich with grace. God is faithful.

Thank you for your prayers.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

The Battle Continues...

Self pity is my enemy. (Well, one of them anyways.) It's a tool that Satan wants to destroy me with. He lies to me. And He knows where I am weak and am most likely to buy into His lies.

I fight back with, "It doesn't matter. It doesn't matter. Stop thinking about it because it doesn't matter."

...because it doesn't. It doesn't matter that it's hard to transition culturally. Christ traveled not from one place on earth to another...but from The Sinless Place to The Place full of Sin. He didn't just leave friends knowing He'd return to a different relationship...He left His Father. Knowing He'd be separated from Him and things would never be as they once were. I need to stop taking my emotional temperature.

I was not put on this earth for me. To have my needs met. To have my relational cravings fed by people. I was not put here to be pursued by others. To have a "normal life." (no one has a normal life, by the way.) It just doesn't matter. It doesn't matter how many years I feel like I've been "transitioning" for. One home or country to the next. Christ had no where to lay His head. He gave His life for others...and then died. In my place. In your place, if you're a Believer. For our sin.

He didn't even die for His own sin...but other people's...because He didn't have any. Man. He just gave, gave, gave, gave and never received.

When I think about this, I consider how He regularly left being with others to enjoy the presence of God. Fellowship with His Father. It seems this was His secret.

I think if I did that more...this battle wouldn't rage so strongly. If I stopped looking at earthly things like Colossians 3 talks about...then the battle to not surrender joy would be more consistently victorious.

I find great comfort and peace in my Perfect Saviour. Who had more reason to "feel sorry for Himself" than I ever will...and yet- He rejected it. He embraced humility and service. He gave away until there was nothing left to give-- because He gave it all.

Oh, LORD, thank you that you see me as Christ is. Thank you for the Gospel. Help me embrace this transition...and use it: force it to do good unto me. Molding me and shaping me to look like Jesus....

Monday, April 19, 2010

The Kingdom of God: mono-cultural

When the point was made yesterday during the service by Danny Jones, that there are no "different cultures" in the Gospel; the Kingdom of God is head began to spin.

What? What does that mean? How does that relate to what I'm processing and how I'm transitioning? Huh?

And then it hit me.

We try to add our own culture to the Gospel. We need to get our culture OFF OF the Gospel. Stop tainting it.

The Gospel, and those adopted into the family of God have ONE culture: living a life with Scripture as our authority. Christ is supreme. This should never change. In this we are united.

Certainly I think there is room for application to vary in different lives/cultures. Like I mentioned in a previous post, "giving grace to those who hear" is opposite in America and Wales. In sarcasm, I build relationally with the Brit...but tear down the American.

I'm still not sure I understand all of this really...but I'm enjoying the thinking so far. Sometimes it really does my head in- but that's what I love about it. God is so much bigger than I can imagine...