I’ve decided to take a step back from school in a while.
So much has happened in the last year:
Since December of 2008:
- My parents got a divorce and my world was rocked.
- I spent the summer on a missions internship in Kenya and my heart aches to serve those who the world throws to the ground.
- I transferred from Denison University in Ohio to the University of Kentucky over the summer- right before my senior year.
- Daniel and I finally got to be in the same place, instead of dating long-distance!
- I got engaged (to my best friend and man of God)!
- We have a house to move into once we’re married (praise the Lord!)
- We will be married in May (108 days from now!)
- My dad got remarried
- My dad moved in with his new family, my mom and siblings moved into a new house- thus leaving me without a sense of “home”.
- I’m plugged in with an awesome small group of girls, these women have truly been such great friends during this time of transition!
- There are 4+ weddings of my friends to go to this summer!
So many things have been happening lately, and many of the things I’ve gone through have made me a stronger person. However, I have not begun to deal with the reality of my parents divorce, and I have not really had time to grieve or absorb anything. My life has been on “fast-forward” for a while, and I’m feeling the effects. I’m taking some time for myself and away from Lexington for a bit. I feel like I’ve been trudging through the mud for the past 7 or so months. I have been extremely emotional and anxious about many things, and that is not who I am.
I have struggled to be my usual, fun-loving, adventurous self. There’s something inside of me that needs healing. After bringing all of my anxieties, fear and frustrations to the Lord, I have recieved confirmation that I need to take a step back.
I intend to spend time in prayer, in fasting and in reading my Bible. I need to gain a better sense of who I am as a child of God. I need to prepare my heart and my mind for marriage. I want to go in to our marriage with a better sense of who I am and how I can serve Daniel even better. I want to feel whole again, I want to regain a sense of purpose and a direction. In God’s time, I’ll go back to school and finish my degree. With the Lord’s direction, he will provide opportunities to minister and to be filled up.
I’ll be spending a few weeks in Louisville collecting myself and receiving counsel, and then I’ll return back to Lexington where I will continue counseling. I plan on beginning to work, I need something to keep me busy. I am praying that my spirit is mended- I feel so very broken- and I can’t give to others when I’m hurting.
The Lord has blessed me so much- he has put people in my life that are supportive of the choices that I’m making.
I don’t really know who will read this, but I just wanted to document this so that I can come back and look at this entry later and just have a record of what God has brought me through!
And just for kicks- another engagement picture with our “love eggs”
… and we’re getting married!
Haven’t posted on here in a while, but thought I should put something up for whenever I decide to reawaken this blog!
The Lord sure has taught us a lot in the past few months, and throughout our relationship. We pray that we are tuning into His soft whisper of guidance as we follow earnestly after what He has planned for us.
Fall- crisp, refreshing air. Crunchy orange leaves scattered on the sidewalks. A time for great runs and warm mugs of coffee and tea.
Just as trees shed their leaves to store up energy for the winter, God is allowing me to slowly begin to shed a few of my imperfect layers to reveal what he intends me to be.
My story is continually changing as the leaves continue to fall. God has got something big planned, something big indeed!
It was a beautiful Sunday for apple picking
Handsome boyfriend picking delicious apples
If anyone out there is still reading this, THANK YOU!
I’m in despearate need of putting up an “update” post. I’ve been back in the States for over a month and a half, it’s about time to catch everyone (and myself) up on all that has happened!
Here’s a little preview:
-Had an awesome time with Mi2 Debriefing (reverse culture shock= going to Holiday World)
-Had tons of fun adjusting back to Kentucky allergies (they were terrible for about 2 weeks)
-Had a great time packing minimally for college (I hate when I bring too many things!)
-Moved into my new house in LEXINGTON. Registered for classes at the UNIVERSITY OF KENTUCKY!
-Daniel and I have gotten to spend so much time together! We’re finally able to drive each other crazy! It’s awesome because we’ve never had this much time together🙂 We’re also learning a TON. Boy do I need a huge dose of humility…
-I’ve gotten involved with CSF (Christian Student Fellowship) ministries on campus- they have an awesome group of people!
-I was BAPTIZED on August 24th in a pond outside of Southland Christian Church (my new “church home”)
-I got a babysitting job with 2 pretty cute kids
-Daniel and I have gotten involved with “Church of All Nations”- a congregation of about 50- many of the families are refugees from The Congo, Uganda, Tanzania, Burundi, and there’s even a family from Kenya! God places those close to your heart near to you- who would have though that I’d have a piece of Africa in Lexington?
-Daniel and I are having “date time” each week, it’s so special!
-Mowgli (the crusty eyed kitty featured in a few posts last year) is still the most awesome cat in the world.
Above and beyond all of this- God is amazing. He’s continually teaching me new things. I’m still praying for a vision and direction for my future- I will graduate in May (Praise the Lord!) but past that, I have no idea where he’s going to take me. Father, I commit my life into your hands. Use me as you will, Father send me out to advance your kingdom.
And again, if you’ve been reading/checking for updates, you ROCK! Be blessed abundantly!
Sorry for the lack of pictures! This is a quick update post- it’s a copy and paste of an e-mail I sent out, so sorry if it looks too familiar! And thank goodness for Kenyan time because our time left in Kenya is short! Oh no!
Jambo! Wow, I officially have a week until I fly away from this country that I’ve grown to love more and more with each passing day. We’ll actually be heading back to Makueni this Thursday to set up for the Southeast Christian Church medical team that will arrive on Saturday! There will be a free medical camp from August 4-6th for anyone who can make it to Makueni. We’ll be traveling a few days before the SECC team to set up the medical and living facilities!
This past week, we were in Kisumu, Kenya, located on the eastern side of Kenya on Lake Victoria. Life in Abundance began a partnership in Kisumu about one year ago, and the three staff members- Oke (pronounced “Okay”), Ephantus and Mary have been there for the last 4 months. LIA is partnering with 5 churches in Kisumu- and we had ample time with each church, pastor and congregation! LIA is in the process of working with the 5 churches to establish a program for Orphans and Vulnerable Children (OVC) within each church. The LIA team along with the TOT’s (trainer of trainers- church members who have undergone training in Community Health Evangelism through LIA’s partnership with their church) has been identifying homes in which there is great need.
Our Mi2 team split up into 3 groups, each with an LIA staff and a TOT from a specific church. We went around in the slums to these identified houses to carry out a baseline survey that will show the LIA staff how to help meet the communities’ needs. Most of the homes we have been visiting have a widowed mother taking care of anywhere from 3-14 children (some take in other orphaned children from other friends or family). The baseline survey asks simple questions about the health of the mother and her children, about how they earn money, about church involvement, and about relationships with their family and other friends. Many of the women are making 50-150 schillings per day (which equates to about $0.75-$2 a day) by selling charcoal, vegetables, by braiding hair or by selling other food items or groceries. The women also make so very little profit at the end of the day that there isn’t any left for saving. One of the strangest survey questions at first was “Are you involved in a merry-go-round?” A merry go round is a group who meets each day to contribute a small amount of money (10-40 schillings) to a group ‘pot’, and each day, a different person gets the lump sum. Sometimes, the merry-go-rounds are members of the church coming together, sometimes the women have the groups with their neighbors. While it may sound a little strange, it’s the only way for some of them to have enough money at once to purchase the needed supplies for their small businesses for the week.
Another question on the survey asks about their salvation status- “Are you saved?” I think my heart literally breaks each time someone says no. It’s so very apparent when the head of the home is in a relationship with Christ- they have such a faith and trust in God for EVERYTHING in their lives and those homes in which God is present is just so very apparent! Amen! We have gotten to experience many women who have accepted Christ as their Lord and Savior! Amen again! We also heard many heart-wrenching stories of loss, abandonment and illness. I’m sure I could all go on for days about what these families have encountered.
There are a few selected stories that will be posted on this blog at some point in the future- but be praying for the people that we had a chance to visit with. The Post College team of 25 from Southeast also joined us in Kisumu. They were in Kenya for only 10 days, and they arrived in Kisumu on Wednesday night and traveled back to the states this past Friday. We broke into 5 groups, with a Mi2 “leader” and 3-4 Post Team members. Our groups did home visits, handouts of maize meal and laundry soap to families, and we had a chance to give short messages at church on Sunday.
LIA is also working on a “street kids” project in Kisumu, and we had the opportunity to join the staff in one of the very first “street kids feedings”. We gathered in one of the churches on Monday afternoon and waited a few minutes. About 30 rough looking guys poured into the church. These guys are literally living on the streets- many are orphans, others have been so badly mistreated that they ran to the streets. The boys had an opportunity to get up on stage to introduce themselves- Mary of LIA told us that this may have been the first time in a long time that someone cared to ask them their names. Can you imagine that sort of isolation? The boys group together- they have their ‘areas’ and their leaders, kind of like the structures found in gangs. The boys were ages 12-17, they wore tattered clothing, some had flasks of liquor in their pockets, and many had glue for sniffing as well. We gave them bread, juice and biscuit cookies before sharing a few words with them. These kids have poor manners, and the women ended up leaving after about an hour because some of the boys said or did inappropriate things to them. The thing that I had to keep reminding myself was that the boys are just reacting. They are so isolated from the community- no one talks to them; everyone thinks they are very bad people. The boys haven’t felt LOVE in so very long.
There is a Street Kids program that has been established for about 3 years in Ethiopia (another place where LIA is stationed)- they have seen such transformations in the boys who decide to enter the program. In Ethiopia, boys have come off of the streets, others have accepted Christ and they have transformed their street group to be God loving boys. After the Mi2 and Post team guys finished their ministry to the street kids, 4 of the boys decided that they didn’t want to be on the streets any longer- and 2 gave their lives to Christ. Praise the Lord! It was such a blessing to see the rawness of these boys. They walk around with their tough attitude and tattered clothing, but when you look in their eyes- you can see the deep scars and the empty void that only God can heal and fill.
LIA is doing some great work in Kenya (and in other parts of Africa, I’m sure!) I’m so blessed to get so much exposure to the wholistic ministry that they are spreading. We’ve really gotten the opportunity to be the hands and the feet- I’ve seen and heard so much, how will this look when I return to America in just a few short weeks? I mentioned that God had been placing the idea of a college transfer on my heart. I’m happy to say that I will be attending the University of Kentucky this coming fall! Why UK? I really want to be somewhere that fits me better spiritually. This summer experience in Kenya has taught me a lot about myself, and I need to be somewhere where I can grow in my faith. There are so many more opportunities to just dig in deeper in my relationship with God and with other Christians at UK. I also really want to be closer to my family. Again, Kenya has just shown me a new picture of a family, and I want to bring Christ back into our home! And of course, Daniel Cooper, my boyfriend of 13 months, is an important factor in this decision. We’ve both really been praying for God’s timing in our relationship, and we are both feeling a “yes, it’s time to be closer together” from the Lord. We’ve both grown a lot this summer, and we’ve got a lot of sharing and preparing to do together.
I’ll be living with a great friend named Amber whom I’ve known since 6th grade. God has just opened so many doors to this transfer, I am so blessed! I have no idea how much longer I’ll be in school, at this point, I don’t even know what classes I’m taking! So please be in prayer with me during this time of transition! If anyone in Lexington knows someone who will need a babysitter or who needs someone to work part time- please let me know. I would like to get a job in Lexington, so if you know of anyone who is looking for someone (I’d rather not work in fast food or retail), please pass my information along! Keep our 2 Poland-guy friends- Dane and Erich- in your prayers, they are in Poland. Honestly, our Kenya team can’t wait till we meet up with them again in the Amsterdam airport on August 6th, but they’ve also got a few busy weeks of camp until then! Keep Daniel (www.godismyjudge.wordpress.com ) in your prayers, he finishes up his internship in California soon (I can’t wait to see him again!) Be in prayer for my family, God works miracles. And be in prayer for our team as we continue strong till the end of our stay! I love you all, thanks for keeping up with everything!
I’ll see you soon! Kwaheri (goodbye) and Bwana akubariki (Lord bless you),