Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Break my Heart, Lord.

Ok you'll have to forgive me if I repeat things from post to post.. sometimes things go over and over in my head.. and I'll ponder it until I've soaked it all in. (Yes, I'm weird.)

I remember being 16 and on my first overseas missions trip to Europe when I started singing a song.. "Break my heart, Lord... for the things that break yours." This concept challenged me a bit. What must God see when He looks at this world. I normally do what comes naturally to everyone and look at the world through my eyes.. my thoughts.. my opinions. But what does God see? What breaks His heart? And what would happen if I truly prayed that? So I did.. and for the years after that, traveling through Europe and Asia, and even working here at home, I think that changed me as a person. When you meet people, it's so hard to put up a guard and a front, and to be nice and polite, but not go deeper. I truly care for the people I meet, and I want them to know that. I want people to see Christ in me. I love when people tell me that they sense a peace and joy about me, and they want that.. why do I have that? How do I have that? It's really not me, it's Him. I love asking people how are they, how are things... I think sometimes people just give small answers that don't really answer the question. I'm not trying to pry.. but I do want them to know that if they need someone to talk to, I'm here. It's amazing what simple hug or smile can do to brighten someone's day. As Christians, I believe that we're God's hands and feet. It blows people's minds when you do something for them, just for the sake of doing it for Christ. When you see people through Jesus' eyes... you see the hurts, and the needs.. but you also see what you can do to help.

When I traveled with the organization Royal Servants, they did what they called "Servant Projects". During the training camp phase before we went overseas, they set aside a day to send the students out into a local town. We were geared up with things to hold car washes, to clean houses, and to pass out drinks. It was an incredibly hot day.. so we would run to cars that stopped at a light and asked if they wanted a drink. Or we would hold signs and yell free car wash. We went knocking on doors and asked the people if there was anything we could do to help them such as mow their yards, or rake leaves, or wash their cars.. anything they needed, what could we do? At first I helped with washing cars.. I noticed several people kind of badgering our students, getting out of the car and asking WHY are we doing this? What was our angle? What did we want? How much was this going to cost.. really? LOL All for a free coke.. or a free car wash. People can't fathom the word "free" anymore. We would simply tell them, "We want to show Jesus love in a practical way." I learned that summer, Jesus was quite the hands-on go-getter on earth. He met real needs. He healed the sick, He helped the lame, He fed the 5000. Through us today, I believe He would go door to door and ask people, "What can I do for you?" By mid-afternoon that day, we broke out into groups.. I was teamed with a group who had been knocking on doors that morning. They explained that they had come across a woman and her son who lived in a small two story house with a lot of cats. They had offered to clean the place. We ran to the grocery store and bought cleaning supplies and I believe they did buy some food. I remember walking in and thinking a few cats was an understatement. The place was run-down, and dirt was everywhere. The middle-aged son was overweight, and sitting on a skinny mattress in front of the t.v. Cats were everywhere. You could tell the woman had a soft heart and loved these animals. I'm not sure what their story was.. but we were here to do what we needed to so she could feel that God had not abandoned her, and that He loves her. One of the girls on our team, spent time helping the woman in her kitchen. I'm not sure what she did, but I do know that she sat down and started reading the woman's mail for her, because the woman had been without glasses for sometime. I was upstairs mopping a bedroom floor. One of the boys on our team, a 16 year old, came and was watching me and another girl work, and warned us not to go in a certain corner because it looked like it was about to cave in. I remember at that point I hadn't gotten to know that boy very well, other than that he liked to laugh and joke and was completely goofy. (We had a pretty big team.. so it took about a month to get to know everyone.) I thought this boy had a pretty tough exterior. He went into the bathroom and started cleaning something that looked as if it used to be a toilet. I remember thinking the floor was just a simple brown.. and started with half bleach and water... then more bleach... finally I was taking the bottle of bleach and pouring it on the floor. I scrubbed and scrubbed until a little bit later I realized the floor wasn't just brown.. but it was so caked in dirt that I couldn't even see that the floor had teddy bear designs on it. It broke my heart that someone lived like this. We cleaned as much as we could, until we heard it was time for us to go. We gathered our things, and as we passed the bathroom, the boy was still scrubbing the toilet with tears running down his face.
Break my heart, for the things that break Yours, Lord.
We left the woman, who broke down thanking us for our work. She said no one had shown us that type of compassion and love. I've gone knocking on doors and handing out tracks, but for me, this was the most effective way to minister to someone I have ever seen. It touches people. People have needs.. people go through things and they feel hopeless and lost. If we as Christians, did this more often.. what would the results be? I believe people would see Christ at work. Most normal people of this world, don't do those kinds of things.. especially for free. What would it benefit us to get our hands dirty? Nothing. But as Christians.. we're not of this world. What does it benefit us? It grows us into people who are molded more into the image of Christ. I say all the time that actions scream louder than words. I know for my own needs.. I worry and I fret.. and I try to trust God. I try to trust God with my finances for my trip, and for every little worry and fear that comes along with making this decision to leave for 6 months and do this. I hate asking people for help..but oh, how much it would mean to me if someone did help. So what can I do for others?
When we returned back to training camp that day, we discussed with a leader what had happened and the situation. They said they worked with local churches in that area, and called a few of them.. and told us a few days later that someone from the church had reached out and was helping that family.
Break my heart, for the things that breaks Yours, Lord.

My prayer right now is that God allows me to be His hands and feet. To show His love in practical ways. I pray for the people that are put in my path, and that I'm aware of why they are there, and what I need to do. I want my heart to break for the things that breaks God's heart.. so I'll be able to be more effective for Him.

Counting it All Joy ~ Jessa

Monday, May 28, 2012

I Love Your Ways

I have said several times that I wish that I could meet myself. Step outside my body and watch me through my day and as I meet people and then come up and shake my hand and get to know me. What do people see? I know what I want portrayed.. and who I am by my thoughts, but how do other people see me? I want more than anything for them to look at me and see a mirror image of Christ. My goal is to become a godly woman, and for people to want what I have.. which is the the joy and peace of Jesus in me.

As I said in the last blog, I've really been going through a lot lately.. and I did something most Christians try to avoid: I asked God why. I'm dealing with mourning for someone who was close... I'm dealing with a new relationship with my father. I'm dealing with a new job.. and realizing I'm not going to be able to control my life by trying to steer it my way. Every time I step up and try to control what's going on in my life, things happen beyond my control that just reminds me again that life is life, and there's nothing I can do about it. I'm learning God's ways aren't my ways.. and even if I don't understand WHY things happen.. and WHY I can't have my way.. and WHY God brings people in my life at certain times and WHY and what is my purpose with certain people and situations.. it's all apart of a bigger picture. The past week I've learned more about myself, and I'm feeling like the closer I move to God.. the more I see myself.

I was feeling bummed about not being able to go on the Creative DTS, but I have been thinking about how the work with Compassion is a lot more advanced then the ministry I've done in the past. My main purpose and goal is to take myself out of the rat race I feel stuck in, and shift my universe from my bills to my God. As a Christian, that's the most important relationship I have, and it's slipping, and I want to fight for it. I think maybe if I lay aside everything... even my photography, it'll help me focus a bit more. Instead of spending 6 months focusing on God and my photography.

I'm not sure exactly why things are happening, but I do see that despite everything.. God knows, and He is still molding me into a woman of God. And that's what I need to realize and stay close to.

I'm slowly seeing answers to my prayers.. but I am still struggling with mainly the financial aspects. I'm really hoping also to find a new church family who I feel comfortable with asking to surround me with prayer, as well as finding prayer partners while I'm overseas. As every missions trip, it feels very up and down and one step forward five steps back kind of process. It touches my life in every way.. but more than anything, my focus is on Jesus and to be faithful to Him.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Peter Furler - Reach

I'm dedicating this song to my Daddy.. who's living proof of God's grace and love.. and the fact that we don't need to do anything.. because Christ's loving arms are already reaching for us!

Thursday, May 17, 2012

A Hope and a Future...

  "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." Jeremiah 29:11

I've started a few of these blogs, but can never finish.. I start out strong and then fizzle out. The past few weeks has been some kinda crazy emotional roller coaster ride.. and I'm ready to get off at any point now.. However normally when something's up (or down..).. God's got a plan to teach me something..  

I've been excitedly planning my upcoming school trip to Australia... and then life hits you kinda hard. Normally in the way of something simple.. like a little white envelope labeled "Bill." (I don't know why they keep sending me his mail... anyways..) So I started praying and going over everything to figure what would be the best way to raise support and take care of things at home before I leave in 8 (well.. now officially 7) weeks! 

Then I received news that kinda shook me up a bit: someone who had been close to me last year, recently passed away. This news hit me hard. I have only had a couple of people close to me pass away, and they were older and we were expecting it. This was a shock. Someone who was so young, and had so much life to live.. and now they were gone. It took me a bit (still taking me awhile to grasp it.) that someone who laughed and loved and lived and experienced life.. isn't here anymore on this earth. I had several people listen and talk to me, and let me cry and vent. But the biggest thing that helped was the simple: "Just know I'm praying for you." There's not a lot to say sometimes that'll make you feel better when you're going through something. It got to a point where I wasn't sure how to handle it. I started reading a lot of Psalms, and letting God tell me through His word that He was there, people were praying for me, and that He hadn't left me. I felt the ability to go through daily tasks, and surrounded myself with friends and family that love me and make me laugh. It is sad that someone lost their life.. but my life is still going, and I didn't want it to come to a stand still. I'm still in a time of mourning, but God's showing me that I need to continue with my life and my plans.. That He's created a life for me that has a hope.. and a future. I'm so grateful for His strength and promises for a hope.

So praying over everything that's been going on.. plus my finances and taking care of things before I go (If anyone wants to buy some dishes.. let me know!!) I've been discussing the fact of not going to the Creative DTS in July. I have the opportunity to either wait till next year, or hop on-board the next DTS. Sooooo...I'm seeing about changing to the Compassion DTS!! It starts on October the 2nd, and ends on March 16th, 2012. Compassion has a mercy-focused ministries. The outreach will be anything from working with children in Asia, to evangelizing to brothel owners in Eastern Europe. So far, they have announced three of the four outreach locations. I'm very excited to have the chance to work in these areas. It's a step up from what I've done as a teenager, and I believe it'll stretch me out of my comfort zone. My constant prayer is that God will mold me into a woman who reflects my Heavenly Father.

For my prayer requests.. I've had a few people asking!!

I really need prayer for:

  • A prayer partner group - I'd like a few close people who will kind be on my "team Jessyca". Ones to help handle things back home in case something happens, but also a very close support group for more personal needs. Anyone want to be apart of this.. just holler :) 
  • New church family - I go to a certain church when I can, but with work, it's not been possible lately. I'm hoping to find a church family closer to home, where I feel at home and a connection with the people. Finding a new church always makes me feel nervous! LOL 
  • "Taking care of the Others".. The "Others" is the big elephant in the room that keeps following me, and I don't like looking at it! I've got a few things that needs to be taken care of before I go. Without going into a lot of detail, I just need prayer that doors will open to where I can take of my leftover debt as quickly as I can, so I can focus all my resources more on this trip.
  • My car. I love my car.. but I can't take it to Australia with me! I'm hoping I can find someone to buy it.
  • My storage unit and... storage...stuff. I have a storage unit filled to the brim with stuff leftover from my old house. I need to go through it.. huge undertaking.. prayer for strength and wisdom with what to do with it! Once again.. anyone need dishes?? :) 
  • Support raising opportunities and open doors.
  • My nerves! 
  • Visas and Plane Tickets.. I'm starting to look.. 
  • Keep praying for the decision to go from the Creative DTS and Compassion DTS.. I'd be excited to do either, but I will admit that I'll be a little bit disappointed over losing the creativity focus. I do think there's a reason I need to go on Compassion though. So pray for peace over that decision, so I can continue my journey!!