a body that quits & a God who doesn’t

I had a nice long post written under this same title, talking about how the enemy has a tendency to attack right before big things happen for the Kingdom: one of our sponsor children, a little boy we’ve met and invested in, has left our care pointe, and we won’t be seeing him again; I broke my tailbone the week before our wedding, and the 16-hour flight and dirt roads will not be kind to that injury; one team member’s father broke his back just a week before our departure; a missionary friend miscarried today; another team member lost a close friend today. A young boy was dragged into a lagoon by an alligator. More than 100 people were injured or killed in Orlando this weekend.

It was a beautiful post, and I spent a lot of time working on it. And while it’s the least of our problems, the post has simply vanished. I saved the draft multiple times, but there is no record of it anywhere on my computer. (the irony is not lost on me.) I’m choosing to look the other way–maybe Jesus is trying to humble me, or maybe what I was trying to say isn’t what needs to be heard. Instead of sharing my words with you, I will share someone else’s.

Today on the radio, the DJ shared a statement from Ann Voskamp:

The world needs prayer warriors who don’t see prayer as the least we can do, but as the most we can do.

I will sit here with a busted tailbone and eat my words and my humble pie as I ask for prayer for H and I, and really for our whole team. There are teenagers leaving home for the first time, and parents leaving small children behind. There is a young woman who recently got engaged. A newlywed couple, and a brand new husband who is getting ready to leave for boot camp. I am in the midst of a fibromyalgia flare up that meds can’t keep under control. And, with just 3 days until we depart for Swaziland, we still have a need to raise $1300. Our God is good, even when our circumstances are not, and we know that God will be glorified regardless of what is required of us. We kneel here and pray confidently and expectantly that God’s will be done by the time we get on a plane Saturday afternoon.

My body might want to quit, but my God never will.

2 Days // I didn’t ask for this.

My trip has been 100% covered in your contributions, and for that I am so, so grateful.

In the interest of transparency: I didn’t ask for this.

Just like the human body, 1 Corinthians 12:12-30 tells us that each part of the body of Christ has its own unique purpose, different gifts and talents and abilities in order to complete the mission for which it has been appointed to do. One body part cannot function without those around it, and without one part, the whole body cannot complete its mission.

There are some days where I look at this earthly body of mine and think to myself, wow. I am uniquely qualified for the assignment I have been given. More often than not, however, I look at this body of mine and think to myself, I did not ask for this body of mine.

I did not ask for a mind that keeps me awake at night, trying to think of ways to logistically house and feed every orphan in Swaziland. (I mean, come on, the military can house and feed hundreds of thousands, why can’t I?)

I did not ask for eyes that are drawn to the outcasts, the lonely, the ones most in need of attention and affection.

I did not ask for eyelids, the inside of which are indelibly inked with the images of painfully beautiful moments with my babies.

I did not ask for ears to which the sound of children is like the most beautiful of songs, ears that hear the cry of one child over the laughs and cheers of others.

I did not ask to find my heart walking around outside my body (click here) so, so far away.; a heart that is broken over watching these sweet babies fend for themselves, and grow up feeling unloved by parents, siblings, their Creator.

I did not ask for an immune system that might kill me in the US, but save me in a third world country.

I did not ask for a voice that does not shake when asked to speak in front of large crowds.

I did not ask for arms that can rock colicky infants to sleep.

I did not ask for hands large enough to hold that of three or four children at once, because there is a shortage of such.

I did not ask for fingers that could pluck guitar strings and teach children to sing of the Happy Day when Christ came alive.

I did not ask for a stomach strong enough to withstand the smell of un-bathed children, urine-soaked clothing, burning trash and feces.

I did not ask for long legs that can play soccer as easily as they can provide seats to two or three children at once.

I did not ask for feet that feel at home wrapped in canvas TOMS, stained red with Swazi soil, impervious to rocks, thorns and sticker plants. Feet that knew I was home the moment they touched Swazi soil.

I am clumsy and uncoordinated with these things that I have been given. Sometimes I get too wrapped up in what’s happening in front of me to see the ones most in need, or enjoy too much the sound of laughter to hear the cry of a child. Sometimes my heart aches more for my own circumstances, those that keep me up at night. Sometimes my immune system knocks me flat on my back (pun intended), and sometimes I can’t use my voice to speak up for my babies. Sometimes, my arms and legs and hands shake so much that I can’t hold a glass of water, let alone hold babies or play guitar. Sometimes, my feet get tired, and the Swazi soil washes away. Sometimes I forget the beauty of the sights, the strength of the smells, the depth of the feels.

It is on days like today that it is the very hardest to cling to the Cross, when I feel weak and powerless, undeserving of the gifts and talents I have been given in order to complete my mission as a part of the body of Christ. As a missionary, I have been warned that the enemy attacks when we are closest to Christ, when there is the most at stake, when we have the most to lose. It is in those moments that the enemy finds us the most vulnerable, because we never see it coming. Today is one of those days. I know the enemy is attacking, but knowing doesn’t make it easier to face. It is days like today that I think that this body of mine is more a burden than a blessing.

And then I remember: this body of mine is not mine.

I may not have asked for these things, but God did. Not only did he ask, he commanded them. He commanded ME. To go, to do, to love. To use this little ol’ speck of his great and mighty body to be a light in the darkness, so that his children might rejoin the Kingdom of Heaven.

On days like today, straight out of Ephesians, this is my prayer: that I might live a life worthy of this calling I have so graciously been given, even when—especially when—I fall short of the glory of God. So here I am. Lord, send me.

2 days, 14 hours, 21 minutes until I go.

Here I am, Lord. Send me.

6 Days // The Week Of

I leave in 6 days. 1 hour. 3 minutes.

Yesterday was wonderful; I spent the whole day with my loving church family. Our team was invited onstage as part of the service to be prayed over. The small group of girls I lead threw a baby shower for a coleader’s first child…but before I even had a chance to go home, I found myself kneeling before a toilet bowl. Sick to my stomach. This can’t be happening.

6 days from this very moment, I will be sitting at the gate in the Indianapolis airport waiting to board an Atlanta bound airplane. I should be preparing for my trip. I should be doing laundry or packing, but instead, I have spent the better part of the last twenty-four hours passed out in bed because I am sick.

This is the struggle and frustration of immunodeficiency. I got sick two weeks ago too, and I finished a round of antibiotics two days ago. And boom. Nausea hits, headaches return, and I spend twenty two solid hours asleep.

I don’t know how this happens; I haven’t had an infusion in six weeks, so my immune system should be at its highest point right now. It’s frustrating to not be in control of my own health–I mean, I wash my hands. I carry hand sanitizer in my purse, cough into my elbow, avoid public restrooms, keep my distance from sick coworkers and friends and take vitamins and drink orange juice for crying out loud…

And yet, during the two hours in the middle of the night when I woke up hungry and nauseous and unable to sleep, I picked up our pre-mission trip devotional book and opened to Day 33: a whole message on spiritual warfare. I know my last post was about spiritual warfare, but I think the point of this is to drive home the fact that spiritual warfare is real and effective.

Spiritual warfare goes further than just illness. In two weeks, my trip account has not budged. I’m still only one-third of the way funded, and my prayer team has yet to materialize.

This is the last week before I leave. My last Monday before Swaziland. I should not be worrying about where the money will come from, who will be praying, or if I will pass sickness along to my sweet babies. I should be enjoying the anticipation. I will be spending this week eagerly doing some last minute shopping, packing my suitcases, praying endlessly because I know my God is bigger, greater, stronger than an empty bank account or stupid virus. And I know this because he tells me so:

“‘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

“Do not worry or be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to the Lord. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:6-7

And most importantly: “The gifts and calling of the Lord are irrevocable.” Romans 11:29

Listen up, spiritual adversaries: I’m a little bit too sassy and a lot too untamable and far too loved for this to keep me from doing the work God has laid out before me. Get on my level.

6 days. 20 minutes.

 

Update: I posted this 11 minutes ago…and I just received an email from our trip coordinator saying our accounts had been updated. You have helped me reach $1,675, which is just past the halfway mark. God is so good. Keep it coming.

10 Days // Prayer

In Honor of Maya Angelou:

If you have been anywhere near the internet or radio today, you have probably heard about the passing of the acclaimed author Maya Angelou. I first encountered her work as a sophomore in high school, after stumbling upon her book, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings. It was a difficult book read, due merely to the content, but I love the outlook Ms. Angelou has maintained throughout her life, despite the struggle, pain and, if we’re going to be honest, unfairness found in her life.

She is on the list of people, living or dead, I would invite to a dinner party. I wish I could have met her; she has so much wisdom to pass on. I’d like to start tonight’s post with some of her words: 

“I know that when I pray, something wonderful happens. Not just to the person or persons for whom I’m praying, but also something wonderful happens to me. I’m grateful that I’m heard.”

Prayer is a vital aspect of mission trips—both in the preparation and in the going and doing and in the coming back and choosing beauty over heartbreak. It’s important for our team to be in prayer, but it is also important for us to have a team of prayer warriors Stateside as well. I have loved hearing the kind words of readers, words of encouragement and love and understanding. You have all been such a blessing, but I need to ask one more favor of you:

I need your support. 

I am a broke college kid, and I totally understand if you are unable to support me financially. [but if you can that would be awesome too and there’s a link to your right] Either way, I’d like to ask you to pray for me and for my team. We are just 10 days away from getting on a plane to the other side of the world, and we need prayer now more than ever. As a group, we have been struggling to raise the necessary funds for the trip. We have each encountered road blocks—sickness, nerves, fear of the unknown, difficulty in preparation—and it is crunch time. I hate using words like spiritual warfare because it makes me sound like one of those crazy Bible-thumping Christians that don’t like dancing or necklines that fall below the larynx and I couldn’t be farther from one of those if I tried…but spiritual warfare is a real and actual thing. I have seen it happen, and I have heard stories. The issue is addressed in scripture. The best example I can give is in Matthew 4 (verses 1-11), where Satan appears before Jesus in the desert. It’s very literal compared to the spiritual warfare of today; today, it can be difficult to see the difference between blessings from God and intentional harm. For example: I had to go to a doctor’s appointment and pick up a prescription last semester, and it took far longer than I anticipated. The line at the pharmacy was forever and a half long (read: 4 people in front of me, with only one worker). It maybe took ten minutes longer than normal, but when you are late to Dr. Sharp’s Intro to Student Ministry class every second counts. By the time I left and hit every red light between the pharmacy and the high way, I was extremely salty and extremely late. I was on my way to a freaking MINISTRY class. Surely, this is what spiritual warfare is, yes?

No. As I approached the ramp and sat at the red light (because of course), I watched a first responder team rip a person out of a car crash just before it rolled off the hill of the ramp. Someone had run a red light and hit the car turning left onto the I-26 on ramp, roughly ten minutes before I needed to make the same turn. It could have very easily been me, rolling down that embankment. But instead, I was only 5 minutes late to class.

This is just one example that blows my mind a little bit and is seriously humbling. Getting sick on a mission trip, cancelled flights, insufficient funds, broken down buses…any number of things can happen, and this is why we need you. Pray for safety, pray for peace, for health, for provision, for clear and distinct guidance.

Each day in Swaziland, I will try to provide a specific topic of prayer. I am not the best pray-er, and sometimes I don’t always know what to say. If you are the same way, do not fear! God accepts all kinds of prayers, no matter how unskilled or plain or short. Please keep us in you prayers in the next three weeks, until we are safely on the ground in the US. Thank you, thank you thank you.

10 days. 16 hours. 38 minutes.