Prayer

I remember the exact Sunday School classroom where I confessed my belief in Jesus and began my personal relationship with God.  As a teenager I would return to that exact spot to pray.  Sometimes God feels especially close.

And at other times God feels distant.  One night at Lake Hollifield Complex at Gardner Webb University I poured my heart out to God.  I had no answers for my questions, no peace for my heart, and no comfort for my soul.  In those moments I grasped that God can handle my emotional prayers of anguish.

At other times the prayers of someone else impact me greatly.  Each week our pastor prays a similar blessing over our congregation.  The part of the blessing that touches me the most is, “And now may God bring healing to you and all your relationships.”  Those words soothe my soul over and over again.

Yesterday my boyfriend uttered a precious prayer for us.  We were under the covering at the RDU airport.  The rain was pouring down.  His two suitcases were on the sidewalk.  (The same two suitcases that have not yet arrived at his final destination.)  His passport case was around his neck, and ready or not we were saying goodbye.  My checks were wet with tears.  Adam hugged me close, and he prayed, “Dear God, Please go with us both during the next six weeks…”  As he continued on with his prayer, I was at peace knowing that the one I love has a close relationship with God. I was comforted that in these parting moments together we took the time to pray and ask God to be with each of us.  The tears did not cease, but rather they were a part of this moment.  I am thankful that both God and Adam are not afraid of tears.

I look forward to praying with Adam again when we both return from our mission trips.  In the mean time, I’ll be praying for him and he’ll be praying for me.

30 Things To Do Before I Turn 30

Ever since the movie “The Bucket List,” many of my friends have made bucket lists.  I had somewhat of a list going a few years back.  I found the list a few weeks a go when I was moving.  Needless to say that my goals have changed considerably in the past few years.

Now I seriously want to make a list of things that I want to do before I turn thirty.  What do I really want to accomplish in the next five years?  What goals am I courageous enough to set?  Will I even hold myself accountable to achieving these things?  Perhaps I will procrastinate, and then see how many I can get done the week before my thirtieth birthday.  Time will tell.

Here is a start to my list.

  1. Visit some famous cities in the United States like Boston, New York City, and Charleston.
  2. Go indoor skydiving.
  3. Read all of Karen Kingsbury’s books, and write her a fan letter.
  4. Complete a 5K Race.
  5. Go to Disney World even if it is just for the day.
  6. See the play “Godspell” again.
  7. Have a devotional/article/book formally published.

To be continued….Please let me know if you have suggestions for me to add to my list.  I look forward to experiencing how God will guide my future and order my steps in the days and years to come.

The Power of a Story

My story would have been quite different without the experiences and people who have shaped me into the person and the minister that I am today.

Right now I am in the chapter of my life where I am serving on staff at my first church.  I work with internationals in the Raleigh area to help them learn English and adjust to living in America.  Also, often I answer their questions about Christianity.

One of the things I cherish most about my job is hearing the stories of the internationals.  I hear about the upcoming birth of their first child.  I hear about the difficulties of being separated from family.  I hear about the challenges of adjusting to the American lifestyle.

The internationals are eager to listen to my story as well.  They want to hear about how things at school are going.  They want to know how my boyfriend is doing with school and about plans for his upcoming mission trip.  They ask me questions about my family.  They are curious about my American ways, and they help me to gradually become more sensitive to their cultures.

Last weekend one hundred internationals and friends of internationals from Forest Hills Baptist Church attended the annual beach retreat at Caswell.  The sessions for the weekend focused on how God’s story began with creation and continues today.  Over the course of the weekend we shared portions of our stories with one another.

One of the highlights of the weekend was when an African couple was baptized.  These two individuals have a strong faith in God, and I was blessed to hear their testimonies.  I look forward to seeing how God continues to write this African family’s story.

This chapter of my life is full of new experiences like baptizing the African couple last weekend and serving communion on Sunday.  The task before me is to shepherd the flock of internationals that God has entrusted to my care.  Please pray for me and for the internationals.

I pray that God’s strength and wisdom will enable me to keep living out my story.  A story that shows how God redeems brokenness.  A powerful story of hope.  A story that is still being written!

Details

God is in the details of planning, organizing, and getting together a beach retreat for 100 internationals and friends of internationals.  Everyone has a place to sit for the ride, and everyone has a bed to sleep in.  Thank you God for taking care of these details in extraordinary ways.

God is in the details of ordering the steps of the future of someone I really care about.  God led him to apply to a graduate program.  He has been accepted, and God has already opened the doors for him to enroll in the summer school class that the professor only allows a few students to take.  Thank you God for preparing a hopeful future for him!

God is in the details of bringing things together.  I am in need of this reminder.  And perhaps you need to be reminded as well that God is not distant from our human struggles and worries.  Perhaps you need to be reminded that God, even in the midst of your world crumbling, is with you and cares about the details of your life.

What about those times when details do not come together?  What about those times when all of your planning goes to the wayside and chaos takes over?  What about those days that are just horrible?  I know some of my closest friends are in these dreadful moments right now.  They are grieving and questioning.  I have no answers that can transport them out of this season of loneliness and doubt.  All I can do is pray for them in this season where they struggle to pray for themselves.  All I can do is listen and love.  All I can do is realize that there is not more than I can do.

For now I am blessed to be aware of God is at work in the details.  I pray that all of us will be able to catch special glimpses of how God is at work in the details.

Please comment and share with me how God is/has been in the details of your life.  Or feel free to post a comment about how you are in a season where you feel God is distant.  I look forward to us sharing the journey to here, there, and yonder together.