Instagram It.

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This is bold, but true.  We use social media/technology too much.  Here’s why: it’s available to us.  Why wouldn’t we want to?  I love having an iPhone versus the ‘brick’, I think Facebook, overall, is more effective than Myspace, and I really like Twitter, especially when people post funny incidents or encouraging quotes.  I enjoy being able to catch up on current events, because it is literally available at the click of a button.  It’s great to be able to do all of these things. I often wonder though, if we really are able to enjoy these moments, or if we are missing out on the real thing.  What I mean is this; often times we, myself included, spend more time taking pictures to put on Instagram, or thinking of  funny one liners to tweet about, and are missing out on the actual moment itself.  I love looking at pictures of sunsets, sunrises, random trees, and oceans (I don’t have Instagram myself, but from what I’ve gathered it’s a mixture of Facebook and Twitter, but in photo form) It’s always great to capture moments especially with changing things like children, friends, family, etc and be able to look back on each event.  Are we really enjoying the moment while it’s happening though? Or are we living in only a memory through a photo?  I know so many people that take literally thousands of photos each week of a sunset, or a shoelace, their cereal.. whatever it is, they write a quote or something to match and continue on their way.  I am in no way, shape, or form downplaying people that do this or saying they shouldn’t or can’t.  What I am talking about, and again saying to myself is, are we truly enjoying the moment as it happens?  Or are we too busy trying to get the perfect photo to show everyone else, that we miss it while is occurs.  I promise it’s okay not to have the photo of the ‘perfect’ sunset.  Enjoy it in the moment.  Use that time to enjoy not just the creation, but the Creator, and to bask in His beauty.  Don’t miss out on things happening now, only to look back on them.  I think things are always more meaningful as they happen then looking back five years later trying to remember just exactly what took place.  Again, I am not saying don’t ever take photos. I, as well as, many people in my life, whether they’ve lost a son or daughter, mother or father, brother or sister, grandparents, etc, cherish the last photos or videos taken of someone that has passed away.  Sometimes that’s all we have to look back on and cherish the memory with.  That I am absolutely not speaking against.  It’s also fun to look back on photos from 5th grade when you are 30, and question why your mother let you out of the house dressed like that and how you ever had friends with that hair-do. Pictures are great; quotes or funny happenings are awesome.  But remember that God gave us the present to enjoy now, not twenty days from now.  There is only one October 7,2012.  So why not enjoy it while it’s here, versus waiting to look back on it when it’s not.  There are so many wonderful things going on right now.  Go enjoy them!  Enjoy Christ and all that He has done and made.  If there is something that you really really must post to Facebook, Twitter, or the others, then share it!  Just don’t forget to first enjoy the moment yourself!

“One thing I ask of the Lord, this is what I seek: that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to gaze upon the beauty of the Lord and to seek him in his temple.” psalm 27:4

.ab

trust.

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                              “He who trusts in himself is a fool.” (proverbs 28:26)

Are you a truster of self? If not, then please call me and pour in some words of wisdom because I am.  I’m not sure if it’s because I have so much ‘knowledge’ and education in this head or what. (not really) At some point I found myself thinking I knew what I was doing. I quickly found out I didn’t.  All our lives we’ve heard “The” verses.  The ones that are supposed to answer all the questions about trust and the Lord’s unfailing love and keep us at peace and with comfort.

“For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” (jeremiah 29:11)

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him and He will set your paths straight.” (proverbs 3:5-6)

Simple right? Just trust and everything will be okay.  Okay cool, so repeat the verse a few times and all things will be figured out and we will be good to go right?  I don’t think that is quite it.  See if you keep reading, there are actual things the Lord asks of us to do and through that, He will reveal Himself; in HIS time.

“For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will [CALL] upon me and [COME] and [PRAY] to me, and I WILL LISTEN. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with ALL of your heart” (Jeremiah 29:11-13)

Those last two verses make a difference; in my life at least.  I know I spend so much time saying these measly requests with no regards to actually taking time to pray and truly seek Christ.  “..and I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Son may bring glory to the Father.  You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it.” (john 14:13-14) The Lord promises a guided path and one with our best interests; BUT we too are called to seek Him.  and not just with a simple ‘sup God.’  He asks for our heart and our time.  For what He has given us and blessed us with, He sure doesn’t ask much.  “Delight yourself in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart.” (psalm 37:4) It’s hard to let go of what we think is good or right, but all throughout the Word, we are promised (and shown) that the Lord really does have our best interest at heart and He truly does know what He is doing.  No where did He say it would always be comfortable or right at the time when we thought we ‘needed’ it, but He allows us to experience different trials, triumphs, challenges to learn and grow and fully see His blessings.

“No temptation has seized you except what is common to man.  And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear.  But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it.” (1 Corinthians 10:13)

It’s hard to just ‘trust.’  To just say “Okay God, I know your plan is far greater than mine and I know that in YOUR timing, the path/plan will be revealed.  May I trust in your unfailing love for me.” BUT when we do, Wow, the things God reveals to us.  Even through the mist of the storm, we have a love greater than we can fathom.  May we trust in that; that it’s going to be okay.  Just keep hanging on.  “Though he brings grief, he will show compassion, so great is his unfailing love.” (lamentations 3:32)

“Let the morning bring me word of your unfailing love, for I have put my trust in you.  Show me the way I should go, for to you I lift up my soul.” (psalm 143:8)

                                     “He who trusts in the Lord will prosper.” (psalm 28:25)

.amanda

burlaep.

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“dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth.” [1 John 3:18]

 

As Christians, we are called to ‘go and make disciples of all nations’ [matthew 28:18-20]Take time to think about what that looks like in your own life. Are we going and making disciples, or are we merely telling others to go? The body of Christ is made up of several different parts all formed together to make one beautiful masterpiece.  Each part serves a different purpose than that of another, but is equally as important.  God may call us to serve as a stay at home mother, an accountant at an office firm or a missionary serving in the slums of northern Africa.  Whatever it is we are called to do, may we do it for no one other than Christ Jesus. [ephesians 6:7]

I’m so excited to be telling the story of a recent journey God has called a few of my sweet friends on.  They all in one form or another have had an experience with overseas missions and/or poverty stricken areas.  God has placed a desire in each of their hearts to go and make a difference.  Sometimes we have the same desire; but we push it aside because that desire is to great for us to accomplish alone.  But see, God didn’t ask us to do it alone.  He is never going to send us somewhere or ask something of us that He is not already preparing the way for.  Such is the case with these friends.  They are just a down to earth group of college guys that were given a call to make a change and strive to eliminate hunger and build community all over the world.  Would there be any possible way for them to do it alone? Absolutely not.  But they are placing their trust completely in Jesus Christ and relying on Him to guide their way.  and He will.

A door opened for them to create this organization, Burlaep; it is purely designed to raise funds, through the selling of different merchandise, to send to places in dire need of help.  Do they know where this will continue to lead or what may come of it?  They don’t.  But what they do know is that they received a call. And they are going to follow that call and GO.  And through that, they are going to make disciples of all nations.  I encourage you now, whether you have felt led to do something similar, to support something similar or simply were not sure what to do, to get involved whether by encouragement, prayer or donations.  Take the journey with Burlaep and experience the joy of being able to serve and love others in such a mighty way!

The vision of Burlaep is to be an example of Jesus and love to the upmost; to serve His people and follow as we are called in Matthew 22:36-40

“Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?”

37 Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ 40 All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”

For more information, or to hear the complete story of how Burlaep came about check out their website at:

http://www.burlaep.com/

..amanda

blessings.

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God is good. period.  I deserve nothing that He gives me, but I am so ever thankful.  He has blessed me in more ways than I can count and I am undeserving of each and every single thing.  My prayer this week is to push off distractions; to cling to Him and desire Him more and more everyday.  Satan will attack time and time again, especially when he knows you are a threat, but consider that joy.  Use times of struggle and tribulations to develop perseverance to become strengthened (James 1:2-18) and strong in the Lord.  God knows the desires of our hearts and just the perfect time and place for each of them.  We have nothing to worry about or be anxious over.  He asks us to place everything in His hands and He will care for us.  (1 Peter 5:7) Do you ever find yourself asking more things of God than thanking Him for the things He has blessed you with? Or questioning His sovereignty and ability to do things. I know I do daily.  So today I encourage you to take time to thank God.  Thank Him for the good times and the bad, the happy times and the sad.  Take time to think back over each time God has followed through with the promises He made [which would be all of them] and remind yourself that HE is in control!  and we aren’t, nor do we have to be!  May we trust in Him, and give thanks in all circumstances!

‘Count your blessings, name them one by one,
Count your blessings, see what God hath done!
Count your blessings, name them one by one,
And it will surprise you what the Lord hath done.’

.amanda

HongKong [finale]

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Weeks of preparation, waking up for early mornings, over 190 kids; makes for one very wild week of VBS, and what a blessing it was!  I had the opportunity to work alongside a group of incredible servants for 5 days.  We were able to have a VBS for the children in the morning, and I had an awesome opportunity to lead a ‘preteen’ group in the afternoons.  Working with the kids in the morning was so much fun!  They were so full of energy and excitement, and I think it definitely rubbed off on the leaders.  Everyone was so energetic and full of life.  I had the opportunity to help lead the morning celebration times with one of our sweet youth, Gabriel.  He was ‘Chef Basil’ and I was able to fill in as our raccoon puppet animal ‘Scraps’.  It was quite a silly and entertaining time.  Throughout the morning VBS, each of the kids were divided into specific age groups, and did different activities throughout the time there; Bible Story, Recreation, Craft and Snack Time.  We closed each morning off with an ending celebration and a recap of the day.  The afternoon time with the Pre-teens was slightly different being as the age difference and schedule.  We were able to do bible lesson, crafts, games and snacks with them as well.  It was quite an enjoyable time, especially watching the youth work with these pre-teens and spend time getting to know each of them and just caring for them like an older brother or sister would.  It was definitely an encouraging time as the leader to be able to watch them serve.  Over the next few weeks, we spent time going out with the youth and spending time with them as they prepared to go back to their studies and crazy school schedules.  One of the weekends, I was invited to spend the day with my two new friends, Carrie and MG, and spend time with the group that came over to HK with them.  We went to Disney World, and had such a wonderful time getting to know one another and enjoying time together as we both were closing our times in HK.  I’m so thankful for them and their willingness to allow me to tag along with their group!!  They definitely are servants of Christ and I have no doubt that they were able to bless some lives while being in HK.  Unfortunately, my time as well was coming to a close, and I wanted to make sure I spent every waking moment around the city of HK with my sweet kids and the people I met while being there.  One of the last days I was there the pre-teens, the youth helpers, the youth pastor and his wife and I took a boat trip for the day.  We were able to travel to a small beach outside of the main parts of HK to swim, fellowship, and just have a fun getaway before everyone began to go their separate ways in the fall.  It was such an awesome closing to the summer.  I went for my last Sunday at KIBC for the summer and what a bittersweet time it was.  They so graciously presented me with a small parting gift, and said some sweet words before I left.  I cannot even express how undeserving I am of any of them, but I am so unbelievably thankful for their willingness to allow me to come be a part of their church family this summer.  I spent one more Sunday teaching my girls, and all of the youth threw a going away party for me.  Such sweethearts!!  One of the most precious ways to close the summer was watching one of our youth (he came over on holiday to visit his cousin)  get baptized.  I had the opportunity to get to know Jimhill and his brother Jimmy while they were here.  To see the transformation in Jimhill’s life was just incredible.  He was so overwhelmed with joy and the love of Christ just flowed from Him. It was such an encouragement!  God is good!  I could go on for days about how blessed I was to receive this opportunity, and I cannot fully express my gratitude for being offered the opportunity.  I pray that God would continue to mold me into a Proverbs 31 woman and use me whenever and wherever.  My prayer for you, as well, would be that God would use you in ways you may never imagine.  That He would place you in situations that would grow you, mold you and form you into a beautiful image of Him.  That you would seek Him, and praises would just pour from your lips.  May we give thanks in all circumstances!  We serve an amazing and faithful Father, who loves us beyond what we could ever fully fathom!!

take my life and let it be.

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Take my life and let it be
consecrated, Lord, to Thee.
Take my moments and my days,
let them flow in ceaseless praise.
Take my hands and let them move
at the impulse of Thy love.
Take my feet and let them be
swift and beautiful for Thee.

Take my voice and let me sing
always, only for my King.
Take my lips and let them be
filled with messages from Thee.
Take my silver and my gold
not a mite would I withhold.
Take my intellect and use
every power as You choose.

Here am I, all of me.
Take my life, it’s all for Thee.

Take my will and make it Thine
it shall be no longer mine.
Take my heart it is Thine own
it shall be Thy royal throne.
Take my love, my Lord I pour
at Your feet its treasure store
Take myself and I will be
ever, only, all for Thee.
Take myself and I will be
ever, only, all for Thee.

Here am I, all of me.
Take my life, it’s all for Thee.

i pray you would give yourself. not some, not a little. ALL. take your life and let it be all to Him and all for Thee.

..amanda

[creds@christomlin ‘take my life’; Frances Havergal (original writer)]

HongKong5

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Yet another wonderful past few weeks of Hong Kong life!  God is so GREAT!  Whoa, I can’t say that enough.  A group of church family and I were able to bring in 4 of July with some delicious American BBQ and even better homemade apple pie!  If that’s not bringing in Independence Day Hong Kong style, I don’t know what is.  We have our VBS next week, so the kids, some adults and I made tons and TONS of posters for the week.  We had quite a good time, and I’m pretty sure there may have been more paint on the floor than on the posters. 🙂  A portion of the youth group recently served on a mission trip to Taiwan with Ellison and Brittney.  (Their experiences are shared in the ‘re[JOY]ce’ writing)  While they were away, I was here with the other youth to do an outreach project and girl’s retreat.  Unfortunately, due to some other circumstances the outreach wasn’t able to be done, but on the plus side allowed for a nice time of studying the Word and being able to pray and write.  It’s always good to have some time away from all the hustle and bustle of life.  The girl’s retreat was pretty great as well.  Throughout this whole particular week, God really worked on my heart with following His plan, not my own!  See I had gotten in this mindset that if this many people didn’t come to this or that, than it was something wrong I did and I wasn’t doing my job etc, etc.  Basically it was turning into a ‘me, me, me’ thing.  Through this retreat, God definitely showed me that it’s not about me at all; and it doesn’t matter if there is 200 people there or 2. If it’s done in His name, then it shall be blessed.  What an awesome and very beneficial lesson it was!  I was able to spend time with some of my girls, and even some of the younger girls that will be transitioning to youth group soon.  My, the knowledge and passion these girls have!  It was quite encouraging to say the least.  I’ve always loved working with middle and high school age and especially girls, but this week just deepened that passion and desire.  It can be such a tough age at times;  and yet they were just so passionate and excited to learn and dig deeper!  God is definitely at work in these girl’s lives and I am super pumped to see how He continues to use them.

Over this week, I was invited on a lunch date with one of my girls and her families. We went out for  (Be mindful that I am spelling this ‘Americanized’ and exactly how it sounds)  ‘Gem chee and Yum chau/tau’  Basically it’s a lot of asian food and Chinese tea; or in southern terms, ‘Soul Food and Sweet Tea.’  Amongst this Asian feast was quite a few species of the animal kingdom; shrimp, numerous amounts of fish, chicken..feet, pig (and all of it’s internal parts). You name it, it was probably there.  Due to the fact that I am white and American, my sweet lunch dates thought it would be best for me to try ALL of the food; and since it’s not everyday you get to eat pig’s skin, I decided I would go for it.   😉  So, a chicken foot or two, pig’s belly and a few fish balls later, I was definitely ‘living the dream.’ or something like that.  Although they basically had to roll me out of the room because I was so full, I really did have a great time trying all of the food and spending a wonderful afternoon with the family!  They even invited me back for supper (which my stomach was totally not ready for.. imagine eating Thanksgiving supper twice in one day.. That’s how i felt) so I guess I did a pretty fair job of eating the Chinese ‘delicacies’ at lunch that day. 🙂  On a serious note, we really did have a wonderful time fellowshipping together, and I am so grateful for my sweet girl and her family reaching out to me and making me feel quite at home!

For the newest news of the week, I made 2 more new friends here!  Here’s the story (I still haven’t gotten over it. It’s pretty cool how God works)  I was in a coffee shop with some of my girls and one of the mom’s.  The mom and I were in a conversation and I was sharing with her that I was from Mississippi and telling a little bit about my life.  I felt this group kind of starring at me and I figured a. I was about to be attacked from behind, b. I had something on my face or c. They heard me say I was from MS.  We’ll go with answer C.  🙂  One of the girls, Carrie, caught me say where I was from and after a few moments of talking, we realized we had many mutual friends and she actually had worked in my hometown.  The other girl that was there, Mary Grace, started chatting as well and we realized that a really good friend of mine from back home and a good friend of her’s from school were the same person!  How crazy is that?!  I remember us all saying over and over again ‘There’s no way.  This is so wild!’  After a swap of phone numbers and getting back to our individual purposes for being at the coffee shop, we both were still just in shock that even 7000 miles away from home we bumped into someone we knew. [or mildly knew]  We ended up having supper together that night and talked for hours.  They are here for a few weeks, serving with a team from the church they are from, with some local churches teaching English.  They came into town a few days earlier to prepare before their team arrived.  I happened to meet them the day after they landed in HK!  Is that awesome or what? Two very sweet new friends that I met overseas, they love the Lord, and are just so encouraging with their words and actions.  It’s been such an exciting story to share!  Whew!  It’s been a wild and very exciting time!!  This upcoming week we’ll be revving up for VBS so preparations for that will continue these next few days!  It’s been another amazing few weeks over here in HK!!  I’m still loving every minute and so thankful for this opportunity!  I pray that God would make Himself so evident in your lives this week!  That He would give you the eyes to see how He sees, and the heart to serve like He served!  Take time to just thank Him this week!

‘Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; his love endures forever.’ [psalm 118] Praise God and His wonderful works!

..amanda


our plans, or His?

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‘for [I] know the plans [I] have for you, declares the Lord ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.’ Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you.  You will seek me and find me when you seek me with (all) your heart.’ [jeremiah 29:11-13]

for I know the plans Amanda, not you, but I. They are plans to (prosper) you and (not) to  (harm) you, but rather to give you (hope) AND a (future).  That’s about as clear as it can be made.  HE, Jesus Christ, the Savior of the world, has plans for me; for us.  Those plans don’t consist of us ending with shame, disgrace or misfortune.  That’s not the intention.  Christ loves us.  He wants to give us opportunity, a hope, a peace, grace, mercy, a future.  He loves us.  Quite a bit actually.  and although we can’t see the finished product yet, He is painting the full masterpiece of our lives; and that’s just it, it’s piece by piece.  For something to be up to it’s full potential, perfection and completion, it takes time. It takes patient.  It takes a mess-up, a set back, a new direction.  In our lives, we sometimes have things that happen.  Whether we had a plan to do this, and it went the opposite way we expected, or we ‘just knew’ we were going here, and well we ended up going there.  That’s okay!  We all face trials, triumphs, good days and bad.  But guess what?!  Christ has it under control!  The masterpiece, our life, is being created by the perfect Artist.  He is One that never makes a mistake, never ‘colors outside the lines,’ or has to start over!  He knows from before beginning to eternal end each step of our lives.  He knows what He has in store for us, which decision we will make before we make it, and what the outcome of each will be.  Crazy right?  It’s a wonder that we don’t just start trusting in Him.  We so often make plans for ourselves, and then when they don’t turn out how ‘we’ expected we wonder what happened.  The first problem is that [WE] made the plans.  I’m guilty probably about every hour of this.  I find myself planning this and that, expecting something to be one way or another and then low and behold, if something turns out way differently, I sit back and wonder what in the world could have happened.  Here is something that I am reminded of everyday, and yet I still fail to do it so often. (TRUST GOD)  He makes a promise that He has everything under control.  and my how comforting that is!  I recently was told a story of a friend that was headed for college in just a matter of weeks with a degree in mind and an idea of what he would be doing in the future. Many of the skills, talents and passions God blessed him with all flowed together and worked with this particular major.  Something that was completely out of his control occurred though, and that now changes what he originally thought he would be doing.  Of course times like that can be super disappointing.  You reach a point where you’re in a way like okay, this must be what i’m supposed to do, it’s going to work out etc etc; and then it doesn’t?? So now what?  Forever I thought I’d be going to a smaller bible college, continuing my soccer  there and pursuing a career in education.  Where’d I end up?  At an SEC university now going after a communication degree.  Things don’t always happen how we planned.  But in a way if you think about it, it’s kind of exciting.  I know that sounds crazy, but it shows that our plan really isn’t the best one.  Christ has one that is EVEN better!  He knows the desires of our heart.  He isn’t one that dangles the carrot in front of the horse’s face and never lets them touch it.  No, what He does is allow us to go through different situations and experiences; some result in good outcomes, some in outcomes that aren’t so good.  Either way, they benefit us!  We are able to learn, to grow, to be strengthened so that when the actual plan comes out we are ready for it.  God doesn’t just throw things together blindly.  He’s like a ‘Tom-Tom navigator‘  times 48998239478237 and about infinity times better. He knows every place,  every event, every direction we should be going; and He makes it happen.  We just have to be patient.  We sometimes have to face trials or difficulties, much like my friend who now is not totally sure what he will end up doing.  It’s not because God doesn’t love us that He allows these things to occur, but because He DOES.  Sometimes things don’t fall into place like (We) thought they should; I’m going to school for a communication degree and a day after graduation I may be called to be a mime for the rest of my life. (I mean it’s slightly unlikely, but it could happen.)  That’s the thing, God has everything under control.  All He asks is that we [trust Him] and He will take care of the rest.  ‘No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it.’ (1 Corinthians 10:13) God loves you!  He really really does!  He loves you, He loves me.  He does have a plan for our lives, and step by step He will reveal that plan to us.  We just have to be patient and trust Him.

‘Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him and He will set your paths straight.’ [Proverbs 3:5-6]

ps:  Just an example of how great God is and how awesome are His works; this friend happened to be sending a verse to someone shortly before all of this occurred. ‘But the Lord stood at my side and gave me strength, so that through me the message might be fully proclaimed and all the Gentiles might hear it.  And I was delivered from the lion’s mouth.’ (2 Timothy 4:17)

God’s pretty Great isn’t he?

..amanda

“Whatever God does is always for our best. If He withholds…it is not because He is punishing with intent to destroy, but always to restore. To give you the best life if you will trust in His plans and not your own.”

re[JOY]ce.

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46 And Mary said:

“My soul glorifies the Lord
47 and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior,
48 for he has been mindful
of the humble state of his servant.
From now on all generations will call me blessed,
49 for the Mighty One has done great things for me—
holy is his name.
50 His mercy extends to those who fear him,
from generation to generation.
51 He has performed mighty deeds with his arm;
he has scattered those who are proud in their inmost thoughts.
52 He has brought down rulers from their thrones
but has lifted up the humble.
53 He has filled the hungry with good things
but has sent the rich away empty.
54 He has helped his servant Israel,
remembering to be merciful
55 to Abraham and his descendants forever,
just as he promised our ancestors.”

[Luke 1:46-55]

I want to be so consumed with Christ that praises just flow out of my mouth.  My actions would reflect my thoughts, my thoughts would reflect my heart, and my heart would reflect Christ Jesus.  It’s like He whom I want to be.  It’s He whom I want my identity to be found in.

This past week, a part of our youth group here went to serve on a mission trip to Taiwan with the youth pastor and his wife.  Their main purpose for going was to lead a VBS with a local church there; but they were able to do some other projects while there as well.  We had a share time with them last night (Sunday Night) and my goodness, never have I felt the presence of God so evidently amongst this age as what I did last night.  The kids ranged from about 13- 19. You want to talk about a random combination of kids; it’d be this group.  Even the youth pastor said never in his life would he have put these 15 or so kids together.  But that’s the funny thing.  God knew it would work, and He placed it together.  It fit perfectly in sync, just like a puzzle.  Funny how God works 🙂  Each of these kids had a different story to share.  A few said they started off the week with more of a sense of ‘vacationing’ than to actually serve and had gone in with the wrong heart.  Soon after though, they said they were able to shift gears and place themselves in a servant’s mindset and not long after began to see the work of Christ in and through themselves.  They shared how they faced struggles with different parts of the trips, whether the people they were with were unresponsive to the Word or something didn’t go ‘as originally planned.’  One of the most amazing things I think all of them shared in one way or another was they learned how to pray.  See over in the area they were at in Taiwan, there are dozens of temples and a lot of spiritual warfare.  Many people are filled with false beliefs, superstitions, etc.  This was something new to these kids.  They learned to come together and just pray.  ‘For where two or three come together in my name, there am I with them.’ [Matthew 18:20] It was so encouraging and such a blessing to hear.  One verse that a girl shared that night is found in 1 Timothy 4:12; it says, ‘Do not let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in life, in love, in faith and in purity.’  They learned to be passionate in prayer, to remain faithful in all walks of life and to not let their age be something that sets them back.  The whole night was such a blessing to be a part of, and it was so great to be able to share in the excitement that the kid’s felt after being able to serve and see God move.  One boy in particular Gabriel, I was able to talk to that morning at church and he shared some with me.  (A little bit of background first)  Gab shared before the trip that he started feeling really connected to Christ, and that Christ was really going to be very evident throughout the week they were serving.  He was excited to see what God had in store.  Originally when he signed up for it, he wasn’t really expecting a whole lot, he just knew he wanted to go.  and God showed Him quite a bit it seems. 🙂  How exciting!  So Sunday, he said ‘Amanda!  I have never felt the presence of God so much as I did this week.  We were able to pray and grow together as a team, and go out and serve others with the right heart and attitude.  We learned to pray and rely on God. ‘  He kept saying ‘it was so so great!’  ‘We were able to see God work through us, and although there were some times that were tough especially when the kid’s would be quiet and never say anything back, we knew we had to patient.  By the end of the week, we were laughing and talking with the kid’s and even their families!‘  I wish I had time to tell you each statement made, or rather that each of these kids could tell you all that they were able to do and be a part of!  It’s such a blessing to be able to share in our experiences with Christ!  Although we often times find ourselves with a lack of faith and courage, Christ always seems to reveal Himself to us, and show that even though things sometimes seem difficult or just ‘not possible’ He has it under control. [always].  The kids saw that this week.  I pray their excitement for the Lord and serving really sticks; that this wasn’t just the ‘spiritual high,’ but a time of growth that they can take and carry on, that they can use to encourage others.  To show that it’s not just about tithing, coming to church on every Sunday, etc etc etc. [although those things are VERY important], but rather about giving TIME!  Christ wants our time, our hearts, our service.  All throughout the bible, we don’t see words like ‘God called Abraham… to sit and wait for things to happen..’ or ‘God called Moses to pretend to lead the Israelites, but not actually leave his home.’ No, no, no!  He calls us to GO and DO!  So let’s do it!  Be encouraged, be moved, and GO!  There’s not time to just sit and say ‘ahh, maybe tomorrow.’ Tomorrow may never come brothers and sisters.  The time is now!  Let’s Rejoice in the Lord and find JOY in all things!  The goods, the bads, the trials, the triumphs!  God is GREAT, God is FAITHFUL, God is SOVEREIGN, God is LOVE.

 

..amanda

pursuit.

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Are you a pursuer or a ‘pursuee?’ Over the past few weeks, I’ve really begun to think about that question.  I’ve always been a mixture of both; just had them backwards.  I’d pursue something when I shouldn’t, and then I’d wait for so long for something that really was probably up to me to decide. I know in my life, many times I’ll just sit and wait and just expect a note from God saying ‘this is what you should do’.  Sure sometimes we think that’d be easier, but where is the adventure in that?  God will always direct our paths, He will make different things evident in our lives, and He knows the perfect time for any and everything under the sun.  (check out Ecclesiastes 3)  However, in saying that, that doesn’t mean that we just sit on the couch and wait for things to happen.  No Way!  God gave us different means of things to go and DO!  He didn’t bless us with different gifts, talents, and abilities to just sit around and waste them.  We need to wake up, go out, serve and love others!  If we are doing what Christ’s asks of us, He will bless us and the situation.  It doesn’t matter if we are serving as a stay-at-home mom or dad, or working in a tiki hut in Africa.  God will use us whenever and where ever and He will make His plans evident when and if the time is right!  So pursuit.  What are you pursuing, or waiting to be pursued by?  There are times in our lives when we come across a decision or situation where we have to decide.  One answer will get us here, and another answer will get us there.  I know so often in my life rather then just following my heart AND head, I’ll say ‘well wait, if i do this now, i may miss out on this or that.’  Shoot the ‘this or that’ isn’t even a certain thing and yet I’m banking on it like it is.  If we are always chasing the ‘what ifs’ or ‘the best thing,’ I can promise you we will be running forever and we will never find it.  Sometimes without realizing ‘the best thing’ is right in front of our faces.  Think of it like this.  Christ is always right there in front of us; yet we spend so much time looking this way and that, thinking well if i follow Him, will i miss out on this, or if I do this then maybe I can be okay and still go and follow Christ.  NOOOOO!  The best thing IS Christ and He is always there right in front of us.  It’s because we are constantly going every which way, we never take time to just stop.  Just be silent and stand before God.  Our day to day decisions are much less important than giving our lives to Christ, but they still matter of course.  So how do you make them?  If I knew how to be consistent, decisive, and find the happy medium of pursuit, then I would have written a book long by now. : )  I’m still figuring it out.  I had a chat with one of my girls recently and here are some words that she said to me that I just have not gotten out of my head.  ‘you just have to do with what you feel/know is right.  you can’t worry about what could be or could not be. that’ll worry about itself in it’s own time.  don’t worry about ‘missing out’ on something that you don’t even know could work.  let it happen when and if it should.  do what’s happening now.  quit waiting for ‘what could be better’ or ‘what may happen’ because that will never come.  you’re chasing something that’s not there. follow your heart and your head.’  I think we so often are busy wondering if this is the ‘right thing to do for right now’ that we end up missing out on something great!  We need to quit worrying so much and place it in God’s hands.  Pretty sure at least once or twice, God mentions in the Word, that we can cast ALL our worries/anxiety’s on Him because he [CARES] for us.  We treat that like a foreign concept.  He has always been there for us, always provided and protected, and yet we still act like we are walking alone blindfolded in a big city.  Take a step of faith.  If it ends up not working out then it won’t work out. sure, it can be tough to take in at first, but big deal; it means we now have another experience that we are able to share and learn from and that there is something else in store for us.  If it does work out, then great!  That’s because it was supposed to and at that time!  Don’t you think that the God of this universe that knows just how many hairs we each have on our head, the Creator of the skies, mountains, oceans and animals knows when and if something is right for us?  He gives us the opportunity to decide.  That’s how we learn.  We make choices; some lead to mistakes others lead to excitement; both are a blessing.  A sweet friend put it this way and I thought it was an amazing visual of pursuit.  ‘It’s like I’m praying for a hole, when I am leaning on the shovel.’  We shouldn’t just sit around and expect things to just happen.  We have to wake up and live; Go and do, and quit waiting for everything to be handed to us. We gotta go live and love, fall down and get back up again. laugh, cry, encourage, teach, learn, pray, give, serve, [have faith].  Stop dwelling on the past and what you could have done differently and don’t worry so much about if something is meant to ‘last forever.’  Take it day by day.  If we wake up every morning and commit our day to God, and make every decision as a reflection of His glory then we know we are in His will.  We are His children.  He wouldn’t just send us off on some long beaten path.  He wants to give us opportunity; but it’s up to us to accept it and GO.

[luke 12:22-34]

22 Then Jesus said to his disciples: “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat; or about your body, what you will wear. 23 For life is more than food, and the body more than clothes. 24 Consider the ravens: They do not sow or reap, they have no storeroom or barn; yet God feeds them. And how much more valuable you are than birds! 25 Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to your life? 26 Since you cannot do this very little thing, why do you worry about the rest?

27 “Consider how the wild flowers grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you, not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. 28 If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today, and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, how much more will he clothe you—you of little faith! 29 And do not set your heart on what you will eat or drink; do not worry about it. 30 For the pagan world runs after all such things, and your Father knows that you need them. 31 But seek his kingdom, and these things will be given to you as well.

32 “Do not be afraid, little flock, for your Father has been pleased to give you the kingdom. 33 Sell your possessions and give to the poor. Provide purses for yourselves that will not wear out, a treasure in heaven that will never fail, where no thief comes near and no moth destroys. 34 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

.amanda