Friday, August 19, 2011

Let her works praise her in the gates...

It is time for me to make a statement about my sweet mother. Earlier this summer I wrote about my father, and I am not now writing about my mother because I feel I have to, but because of the overflow of my heart of love towards her.

I was able to spend the past week with her, and realized throughout that week the sweet nature of her soul towards her daughters. I saw the patience she has for us despite the way we act towards her sometimes. But in all of that week, one thing I realized the most was how much we are alike. I realized that we laugh at the same things, we make the same jokes, we talk the same, we enjoy holding hands, we enjoy the history of the world, we enjoy exploring new places, and we enjoy the presence of God daily. I am beside myself even beginning this blog because I know I could not possibly put to paper exactly how much I love my mother, but I am going to try.

There is a hope I have for her, a pryer that the L has placed on my heart for her and it comes from Isaiah. I pry that this word would be engrained in her heart from the moment she wakes up, that she may be reminded of the glory of our risen Savior J.C.

I believe my mom is called to something greater, I believe she is called to “volunteer” in the nations, to walk the nations and proclaim that the L is her savior. I know that her and my dad have the opportunity to see many different places, and I know they have the ability to walk this world with the Gosp in their right hand ready to share with those who will listen. I know that both of them are on the verge of falling madly in love with our Father to the point of no return. They are on the edge and this is what the L has to say about that:

“Thus says the L to his anointed, to Cyrus, whose right hand I have grasped to subdue nations before him and to loose the belts of kings, to open doors before him that gates may not be closed:
I will go before you and level the exalted places,
I will break in pieces the doors of bronze and cut through the bars of iron,
I will give you the treasures of darkness and the hoards in secret places, that you may know that it is I, the L, the G of Israel, who call you by your name.
For the sake of my servant Jacob, and Israel my chosen, I call you by your name, I name you, though you do not know me.
I am the L, and there is NO OTHER, besides me there is no G;
I EQUIP you, though you do not know me, that people may know, from the rising of the sun and from the west, that there is none besides me;
I am the L, and there is no other.
I form light and create darkness, I make well-being and create calamity, I am the L, who does ALL THESE THINGS>
Shower, o Heavens from above, and let the clouds rain down righteousness; let the earth open, that salvation and righteousness may bear fruit;
let the earth cause them both to sprout; I the L have created it.
Woe to him who strives with him who formed him, a pot among earthen pots! Does the clay say to him who forms it, ‘what are you making?’ or ‘your work has no handles’? Woe to him who says to a father, ‘what are you begetting?’ or to a woman, ‘with what are you in labor?’
Thus says the L, the Holy One of Israel, and the one who formed him: ask me of things to come; will you command me concerning my children and the work of my hands?
I made the earth and created man on it; it was my hands that stretched out the heavens, and I commanded all their host.
I have stirred him up in righteousness, and I will make all his ways level; he shall build my city and SET MY EXILES FREE, not for price or reward,” says the L of hosts.” Isaiah 45:1-13

And to say something to this would ruin the words my Father has for my mother. So here it is a calling that to her may also seem impossible for her to do, but that explains the calling. When we know the calling is impossible for us to accomplish, then we fall to our knees understanding that we cannot do it without the living Savior inside of us working the miracles through us. My mother’s sweet heart will take her to the nations and back, and people will begin to worship the L from seeing her precious heart. She is fragile, and she comes with scars, but the work the L has done in her heart in the past year is remarkable. She is a servant of the L from head to toe, and nothing will stop her from living out the message of the cross. Not even the enemy. Because in J’s name we pry and ask these things to be manifested in her heart. Amen.

In the past week as I watched my mom and sister interact with each other and interact with the people who I have grown to love, I realized something special about them. No matter how crazy they think I am, they will still volunteer to do the things that I ask if we can do. And for this reason we were able to share two incredibly special moments together. We shared dinner with Mohammed’s family the night we returned from Israel. We met 4 of his children, and we shared a traditional Arab meal. Mohammed and his children attempted to teach my mom and sister how to say a few Arab phrases, and the night didn’t end without a laugh. As we were saying goodbye my mom was attempting to give Mohammed’s wife a traditional Arab kiss on the cheek and she failed miserably! Thankfully everybody just laughed and moved on, but I was very proud of her for trying! Then after we came back from Petra the night they were leaving we went over to my best friend here in Jordan, Haya’s house. We went to also break fast with her whole family. This evening could not have been more entertaining! We had all of the traditional Arab dishes, and even shared some hookah at the end of the evening (even Morgan tried it!) But for a moment as we were sitting on Haya’a “back-porch” I had a revelation. I had to shake my head a little because I forgot that I was at an Arab family’s home with my mom and my sister. What a blessing to be sitting with a family that has grown to call me their own daughter, with my own mother and sister. I wish I could just shout from the rooftops how incredible the L has been to me! How on earth did I get to this place, to be sitting in a foreign country with my mom and sister enjoying a meal and watching them interact with a completely different culture. And when those moments come when one of the three of us wonders why we are here, or why something happened in our life, or why a certain person isn’t here anymore, I pry we are reminded of how blessed the L has made us. I pry that in those moments when we believe the world is going to crash down on us we stop for a minute and worship Him for His grace and mercy.

So this is my mom. She is the woman who steps out of her comfort zone to take me to Kenya for 2 weeks when I was 16. She is the woman who steps out of her comfort zone to volunteer as a special advocate. She is the woman who loves driving a school bus. She is the woman who steps out of her comfort zone to go to Uganda for 3 weeks to help Sozo and Rays of Hope. She is the woman who flies over the Atlantic ocean to visit her daughter. She is the woman who when she arrives in ATL she sends me a texts and says, “I can’t wait till we pick you up from this airport.” She is the woman who will hike a mountain with her daughter and husband for the fun of it. She is the woman who can run 26.2 miles. She is the woman who serves her husband, and in serving her husband serves the L. She is the woman who takes care of those around her, and is always looking for a way to help. She is the woman who can get along well with any child. She is the mother who could never be replaced, who I am thankful to say I will spend eternity with. She is the woman who I can trust more then any other person in the world, and for this reason she knows all of my secrets. I love her to the moon and back a million times :)

Saturday, August 13, 2011

For my eternal sister, Katelyn Marie Barnhill.

This is for you my sweet sister, Katelyn.

I cannot even begin to describe how thankful I am the L placed you in my life almost one year ago. It is completely impossible for me to understand why in His mercy and His goodness, that He chose me to have you as a sister that I would learn so much from. I may sit on my bed for hours and wonder at His goodness for the incredible memories we have together: Beth and Cheeto's engagement party; our first "awkward" drive to MC, Homecoming weekend at MC, and then the incredible conversations we had on the way home from MC, the moment with your grandmother studying the word in your basement, all the just dance moments, the time you wanted to take me climbing because you felt you had improved a lot, and I was super impressed, Halloween, when you wore the same exact outfit my sister did, "Thanksgiving dinnner" with kelli and Kelsey; GOOD times with Chacha; when we wore the EXACT same outfit to go play volleyball; selling African goods to raise money; all of those peace sign pictures we have, meeting your best friend Emily, our camping adventure, and of course HAITI! Words cannot describe how much I love you, and how I cannot wait till I get to see you sometime in the fall, en sha Allah. The memories are worth remembering sister, but now it is time to start a new chapter in your life. The old chapters were incredible, but the L has a special place for you to go now, and special memories to be made, and this is my pryer for you as you are sent out....

I am beyond excited to share this word that the L has given me for you. And this word is true because we believe this was prophesied before the coming Savior, and that Savior now lives inside of my sweet sister, Katelyn’s heart. And with this power that she has been given this word shall be manifested inside of her.

“Behold my servant, whom I uphold, my CHOSEN, in whom my soul delights; I have put my Sp*rit upon [her]; she will bring forth justice to the nations.”

My sweet sister, in this you may rejoice because the L has chosen you to go to the University of North Texas. He has chosen YOU to bring good news to the captives. He has CHOSEN you and His soul will delight in you for He sees your willingness to obey His commands.

“He will not cry aloud or lift up his voice, or make it heard in the street; a bruised reed he will not break, and a faintly burning wick he will not quench; he will faithfully bring forth justice.”

Your sweet sp*rit my sister, your quiet speaking sp*rit will reign down on those that surround you, and people will be drawn to you. They will be drawn to C within you, and you will not have to raise your voice and scream, because the L your G is with you and He is mighty to save.

“He will not grow faint or be discouraged till he has established justice in the earth; and the COASTLANDS wait for his law.”

Sister, you know your calling, you know where the L is to take you in this lifetime, so have faith that wherever you go the L is with you and those “coastlands” you are so fond of :) if you know what I am saying….they are waiting for you, and the L will redeem your dream and you will see those “coastlands” come into the Kingdom.

“Thus says the G0d, the L, who created the heavens and stretched them out, who spread out the earth and what comes from it, who gives breath to the people on it and sp*rit to those who walk in it.”

Rejoice sister because that merciful Father of yours is giving breath to those that surround you, He is giving them the ability to walk where they walk. He is watching you walk to those places that make you nervous, and because of His faithfulness, for His is faith Himself, He will give you the strength to continue.

“I am the L, I have called you in righteousness, I will take you by the hand and keep you I will give you as a covenant for the people, a light for the nations, to open the eyes that are blind, to bring out the prisoners from the dungeon, from the prison those who sit in darkness.”

Oh my goodness sister! May we rejoice because we saw our sweet Savior do these exact things, and may you rejoice, for He is sending you to this place to continue doing His work. We have seen C in you, opening the eyes of the blind, and we have seen C in you, bringing out the prisoners from the dungeon, may we continue to see this work manifested in you! This is our pryer for your sweet soul.

“I am the L; that is my name; my glory I give to no other, nor my praise to carved idols.”

Sister, all glory and honor and praise will not be given to you, but will be given to Papa, to our Great Father in Heaven. In whose name we pry, Amen.

“Behold the former things have come to pass, and new things I now declare; BEFORE they spring forth I tell you of them!”

And through this truth we continue to praise Him for these promises:

“Sing to the the L a new song, his praise from the end of the earth, you who go down to the sea, and all that fills it, the coastlands and their inhabitants. Let the desert and its cities lift up their voice, the villages that Kedar inhabits; let the habitants of Sela sing for joy, let them shout from the top of the mountains. Let them give glory to the L, and declare his praise in the coastlands. The L goes out like a might man, like a man of war he stirs up his zeal; he cries out, he shouts aloud, he shows himself mighty against his foes. For a long time I have held my peace; I have kept still and restrained myself; now I will cry out like a woman in labor; I will gasp and pant. I will lay waste mountains and hills, and dry up all their vegetation; I will turn the rivers into islands, and dry up the pools. And I will lead the blind in a way that they do not know, in paths that they have not known I will guide them. I will turn the darkness before them into light, the rough places into level ground. These are the things I do, and I do not forsake them.” Isaiah 42:1-16

So sister, we are all being sent out all over the world, and for this we praise Him. When you feel alone and feel unsure of the promise the L made to you when He sent you to TX I pry you read the promise He has given to you in Isaiah. May this word be an anthem to your life, as you begin this new journey the L has specifically ordained for you. Here you go sister! Your life is just beginning as the L sends you to a new people group with new faces, and new friends to be made, may He be your Rock.

“Fear not, nor be afraid, have I not told you from of old and declared it? And you are my witnesses! Is there a God besides me? There is no Rock; I know not any.” (44:8)

“Fear not for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, YOU ARE MINE.

When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you; when you walk through fire you shall not be burned, and the flame shall not consume you. For I am the L your G, the Holy one of Isra3l, YOUR SAVIOR.” (43:1-3)


“For you shall not go out in haste, and you shall not go in flight, for the L will go before you, and the G of Isra3l will be your rear guard.” (52:12)

O L Almighty, maker of Heaven and earth, may these words go before my sweet sister Katelyn. May they remind her daily of your glory and your promises. May the light of J.C. that is upon her stay with her all of her days at the University of North Texas. May the enemy have no plan for her because he knows that you have won her over. When she is struggling Father I ask that you would be with her, that you would touch her, that you would whisper in her ear, that she may know that you have not left her. May she walk on a straight path that leads only to bringing you more glory. May pride never have a handle on her. Be with her in her studies that she may do all for your glorious praise. May her life reflect the gosp. no matter what she is doing. May she walk the rest of her life in the shadow of you Father, the Almighty, the provider, the Father of your children, the Savior of the world, and the one to whome we give all glory honor and praise. In J.C. Holy Name we pry, Am3n.

I love you so much, and I am waiting expectantly for the day that we get to hug each other after many months of not seeing each other!

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

The Garden Tomb

The 9 oclock sun shone through the trees just enough to cast a shadow over the tomb and the Spirit-like mist was lingering in the air. I sat directly across from the tomb, where Mary Magdalene and the other Mary were sitting (Matt 27:61). As I sat there, I began to think of all the places the L could have placed me in this world, and yet He wanted me to be in that place in that moment, looking at the tomb where His Son was raised from the dead. I could replay the scene one thousand times in my head, but I never dreamed it would come to life, that I would be able to see the actual tomb. And yet, the important thing wasn’t that I was sitting in front of the tomb where Jesus was buried, the important thing was that He wasn’t there. He wasn’t there because of a promise He made to His Father thousands of years ago, to die on the cross for His people. The beauty of the garden surrounding the tomb is incredible, and the presence of the angels there was obvious. It brought a natural peace upon everybody entering, to rest assured in their salvation that their Savior was not there anymore. I saw many people seemingly from all over the world walking into the tomb and walking out with a different expression on their face. I wasn’t amazed that there were people from all over the world there, I was amazed that we all had one thing in common, assurance of salvation, therefore I could rejoice in knowing these were my brothers and sisters who I would be spending eternity with.

Matthew 28, Mark 16, Luke 24, John 20 and 21

It is an undeniably beautiful thing to wonder at the goodness of the L in writing such a timeless love story. To walk in the land where this Love was walking was one thing, but to know that this Love is still walking all over the world is another thing. So, perhaps I will step on toes by saying this but I was reading the other day in a book by A.W. Tozer, and he was explaining how we should not associate the word characteristic with God, that we should understand Him as being Love because it is

in His nature to be Love and nothing else. It is in His nature to be Justice, not because He has to try to be, but He is. And with this we may say that Love wins. The undeniable Love of God our Father is seen in the three religions which inhabit the Holy City. I saw Jews, Muslims, and Christians, side by side in one area, and while there is much conflict involved in the city, there is still one Truth of all of these religions. We all believe in One God, God the Father, Allah, the God of Mohammed, the God of Abraham, and the God of Jesus. And we allow petty lies to seep into our hearts, which lead us to believe that our neighbors, the Muslims and the Jews are our enemy. I walked through the old city, knowing they were the streets that my Beloved walked through, and I saw the contrast to the Truth He spoke. I saw the human nature of selfish gain and deceit. I saw ignorant lies of a false gospel being shared by people who call us their brothers and sisters. And then I was reminded of my own ignorance. I was reminded of my being before I was made into a new creation by my Father. I was reminded of my selfishness, my weakness, my insecurity, and my doubtfulness. I was walking through the very streets my savior walked through, and yet, I was struggling with believing it all. I was struggling because the very message He preached, was the very opposite of the message preached in the church today.

I have fallen in love with this people group, in a way that my flesh could not possibly manufacture. I have seen the love of Christ come fully to life in the families of the M I am surrounded by. And I have wondered why before coming here I was led to believe these people were our enemy. This afternoon I was washing my clothes and I had a rush of the Spirit come over me, and He spoke so strongly and clearly to me that it moved me to tears. I was reminded of this deep love I have for my friend Mohammed, and my friend Haya. Anybody who has had this deep spiritual connection to a certain people group can understand me, but if you haven’t it is difficult to understand. Your chest becomes hot, your heart becomes weak, your body feels as if it wants to curl up into your heart, because you have realized that you have fallen in love with people in the way J.C. fell in love with you.

It’s an absolute break through in the way that you look at things. Life couldn’t possibly be depressing anymore, laughter comes more often then sorrow no matter what you are going through. Because in your heart, this love you once saw, once understood, is now real in knowing that your Savior loves you in the exact same way. The person of J.C. is literally inside of my heart, and when I have these moments when I stop what I am doing no matter how important it is, and I stand thinking of how much I love a person, it is an absolute manifestation of the person of J.C. inside of me, and every part of my flesh is drawn inwards toward that fire that has been lit inside my heart.

I have two weeks left in this beautiful country. I have two weeks left to say goodbye, and the L knows it will take that long to say goodbye. En sha Allah, He may bring me back home to this place some day.

I cannot speak for my mom and my sister, but I may tell you what I saw on their faces as they accompanied me through these strange places. I had expectations of course of what they would think of this place, if they would love it as I love it, or if they would see what all of their friends at home told them they would see. But soon after they arrived I realized it was impossible for them to see what their friends at home said they would see, because it doesn’t exist here. Both Mohammed and Haya’s families invited my mom and my sister and I to come over to their homes to eat dinner with them. I knew that this would be an incredibly humbling experience for them as it was for me, so I of course encouraged them to make it a part of our plans. No American person can ever be prepared for the way the L speaks to you about a certain people group, and for that reason I definitely couldn’t have prepared them for what they would encounter. Whether or not they came into this place thinking it would be dangerous, I cant say, but proof that the L is working is in the fact that my father let all 3 of the women in his life come to this place. We walked through strange streets yes, we saw strange things yes, we had rude comments made to us yes, but the Truth of it all, is that the L showed us favor wherever we went. A trip that people do in 10 days we were able to do in 3 days. We made it in and out of borders because on the first day we were in Jerusalem we met a taxi driver who also happened to be a police man. Without him, we would not have had the opportunity to go to half of the places we were able to go to. And when we arrived to Petra we met a guy who offered to give us a tour of the whole place starting at 7 am. He was also a gift from the L because we would not have been able to make it through all of Petra in the time that we did without him knowing all of the people who worked in Petra. I don’t believe I am extra righteous or more important and that that is why we found favor, but I do believe the L cares for those who love Him and for His Love I am grateful.

Once again, I cannot speak for my mom and my sister, I can only speak for what I saw from watching them: I saw their hearts change this week. I saw their eyes open as they listened to Haya tell them about the importance of serving Allah. I saw my mom show love to all of the people who helped us, and I saw her open up her heart to loving complete strangers. I saw my sister also fall in love with beautiful strangers, and I saw her leave her comfort zone to come walk in “the world I live in.” And although at times it made them feel uncomfortable, I realized this is where the L began warming up my heart to living overseas. I originally felt uncomfortable in new situations, and now I live for the moments where I get to experience new things.

I have a song a life song, that the L gave me many months ago, and every time I walk somewhere new and listen to it, it comes to life again. It is called Come Away by Jesus Culture and these are the lyrics:

Come away with me, Come away with me

It's never too late, it's not too late

It's not too late for you

I have a plan for you

I have a plan for you

It's gonna be wild

It's gonna be great

It's gonna be full of me

Open up your heart and let me in

So here I am in a foreign country, a country in an area of the world where people would “rather not go” and it is true that I have gone away with Him. I have seen a glimpse of the plane He has for me, and I saw that it was never too late to choose to go with Him. I have walked the sidewalks of the UofJ and I have heard the call to pryer and thought, wow this plan is wild, here I am falling in love with a place so different from what I know. I have sat and spoke in Arabic to Haya and her family, and thought wow this plan is great, here I am falling in love with a family so different from what I know. I have stood on top of a roof in the desert and cried out to G for this people group, and thought, wow this plan is full of Him, here I am standing worshipping on a roof in the Midea.

So I welcome Him, and I long for Him to be show Himself to my mom, my sister, my father, and my brother as He has shown Himself to me. Ultimately I long for Him to show Himself to all of the world as He has shown Himself to me. Amen.

He has given me so many incredible sisters and brothers to run this race with, and He has given me a very special brother in the past few weeks to correspond with. I am so thankful for him and his heart, and I am unbelievably excited to see where the L takes him in this race. I am very blessed to be called a daughter of Allah, and I am blessed to call my brothers and sisters my eternal family.

Love and peace from the Middle East,