"AND MOSES SAID, THIS IS THE THING WHICH THE LORD COMMANDS, FILL AN OMER TO BE KEPT FOR YOUR GENERATIONS; THAT THEY MAY SEE THE BREAD WHEREWITH I HAVE FED YOU IN THE WILDERNESS, WHEN I BROUGHT YOU FORTH FROM THE LAND OF EGYPT." -EXODUS 16:32
If you've had any deep conversation with me over the last year of my life then you know that my heart has been yearning for an adventure. People have asked me (especially now that I'm graduated) where I want to live/find a job. My answer...anywhere. Then that question is usually followed up with well what do you want to do? My answer...anything.
This was absolutely not true of my life a year ago. I pretty much had every day of the next 5 years planned out perfectly! I knew where I wanted to live, what I wanted to be doing, when I was getting married, and I most certainly wouldn't have a dog! (Sorry Sal.)
Every day I'm more and more thankful that the Lord is all about breaking and restoring us for His glory. The amount of grace He's poured over me this year is UNREAL. Nothing feels the same to me anymore. Nothing in my life is even close to how it was a year ago. I have completely new friends, a new job, a saving account, I'm out of college, I cherish my time in the Word in ways I never thought possible, my skin is tougher, and my heart is softer. Oh yeah-and I have a dog, who I absolutely LOVE! Hard year...lonely year...but so necessary and so rewarding. On to the rest of the story...
I went home after graduation for 3 weeks before I had to be back for my last month in Tyler to work at camp. In between cooking dinners and remodeling the upstairs, I started putting together my official resume and looking for "big girl" jobs online. When I finished my resume I just kind of laughed. I mean...who would hire me? I've always had a job, but all my jobs were things like camp counselor, soccer coach, fitness attendant at the gym, etc. So when I start applying for jobs all the descriptions are requiring things like internship experience, high GPA's, academic achievements...surely the companies that looked at my resume just laughed! At the end of the day, I felt so inadequate and out of place. I was applying for jobs that I'm not qualified for and don't even really want! What I wanted was to work with people, to share God's love with them, and to constantly be active and stay challenged. I don't care about a salary. I'm not an 8-5, sit behind a desk kind of girl. And I don't thrive if I'm not doing something I'm passionate about.
So I closed my computer that day and just cried. Lord, surely there's more than this! Surely...
Fast forward to the next day- I'm applying for the World Race. I've heard about it for years, known a few crazy people that did it, but there was always too many fears keeping me from doing it:
-Leave my friends and family for a whole year?My family needs me and I have incredible friends.Surely they'll all get married or start new lives while I'm gone. I can't lose my friends.
-Raise $16,000?!I can barely afford groceries. You must be crazy.
Or here's one of my favorites- Live outside and sleep in a hammock?I don't do bugs. Or mice. Or anything that crawls. Impossible.
Truth is though-
-My friends ARE incredible and I know they will be a huge source of support, encouragement, and love through this whole journey. And my family will survive just fine without me...despite what I might think!
-I'm absolutely confident that the World Race is something the Lord has called me to. He's called me and He will provide...that might be my mantra over the next 6 months :)
-And lastly, there have been 3 mice in my apartment over the last week. I still think they are awful creatures but I'm learning to handle them! Surely this is the Big Man's way of preparing me! Ha.
Today I got the phone call-"Leah, we would love to have you as a part of our squad in January!" Interested? And with tears running down my face and complete joy in my heart, I said yes. Philippines, China, India, Nepal, Swaziland, Mozambique, South Africa, Moldova, Romania, Haiti, and the Dominican Republic. 11 months-11 countries-1 God.
Well, of course its been months since I've written in this thing. There's just not enough hours in the day. But here ya go...a recap of 2011 so far. Along with an added bonus about what I read this morning- because it was just that good :)
I went to Colorado. AKA my favorite place in the world. I went with the goal of learning to go toe side on my snowboard. But once again, pride got the best of me and I refused to spend a day falling on my face. So yet another ski trip was spent criss-crossing down the mountain. Maybe next time? Ha.
Girls night. Much needed. Hilarious. Refreshing. And, I got to wear my new boots!
I went with some friends to watch James run the Houston Marathon. Even though he was missing his rockstar partner this year (aka-me), he did an incredible job and ran it in 4 hours. The above picture was taken at Starbucks at about 6 in the morning on our way to cheer on James. It is seriously my favorite picture right now- its so awkward, but so funny!
It SNOWED in Tyler, Texas. The pups loved it! And then I went out to the soccer field and played in the snow with lots of friends. It seemed like forever ago since I had seen some of those people...nothing like a little snow to reunite old friends :)
I coached junior high girls soccer at Grace. I absolutely loved every minute of it! I can't say we had the best season on paper, but those girls worked hard and were so much fun. If anything, I know they learned the meaning of BOB and I go ball! We finished the year out with a camping trip in Tyler State Park. A bunch of junior high girls, tents, and a campfire = a lot of giggling, impromptu games, and not a whole lot of sleep!
I ran the Fort Worth Half Marathon...with my younger brother. I ran some races last year, but I've never run with family. It was such a great experience, and a memory that I'll cherish forever.
Last but not least, its finally that time of the year! The exchange students are here from China for 7 weeks. I've been looking forward to this time for months and its already been incredible. I'll save the details for another post. But if you think about it, pray for the faces in these pictures- that their time here would be special. Pray specifically for their host families, their time at the Chinese church, and the conversations and questions that are happening daily. It's been SO cool to watch God move in their hearts already, in such a short amount of time. We serve such a powerful God!
Last thing...I read Isaiah 28 this morning. And the end of the chapter he uses a metaphor about a man who takes care of his crops on the farm. He plows the field, scatters the seed, and beats the crops with a stick. But he doesn't plow forever and he doesn't use a sledgehammer on his crops. Instead he plows when its time, scatters the right amount, and beats the crop just enough. Here's the last 2 verses straight from the good ole Book in case my blabbering just doesn't make sense-
"Does one crush grain for bread? No, he does not thresh it forever, when he drives his cart wheel over it with his horses, he does not crush it. This also comes from the Lord of hosts; he is wonderful in counsel and excellent in wisdom." -Isaiah 28:28-29
Basically- PRAISE GOD that He doesn't destroy us. He has to grow us, teach us, refine us, make us new, etc. But He won't destroy us. He knows exactly what we need, how much of it we need, and when we need it. I am never a fan of the beating with a stick or crushing part...if only I could remember that through that process, He's making me new! Just like the farmer does with his grain to make it into bread...
Don't fight His process today. He is wonderful in counsel and excellent in wisdom. I didn't say it...Isaiah did :)
ChinaFinals...FinalsChina...It feels like I can't finish a thought for one without a thought for the other interrupting it. This week has been a tadddd bit stressful and overwhelming, and next week's to-do list looks like this weeks'...times 10!
But I really can't complain. I'm planning for the trip of a lifetime and I'm studying for finals in classes that I might actually end up passing, (modern day miracle) despite starting all of them off with the worst grades possible.
But here ya go-if you need me over the next 8 days I'll either be HERE:
On a different note- I'm obsessed with the words of this song. I'm thinkin it wins as my song for this semester! This was definitely not the case back in September...oh no. I think if you asked me back then what song best summed up everything at that moment, I would've replied sarcastically either with Boston by Augustana or one of many Rascal Flatts songs I played on repeat for well.....longer than I'm proud of haha. BUT, I've cried, argued, questioned, pleaded, and begged with the Big Man. Then when that didn't change anything, I grudgingly tried surrendering, listening, obeying, walking with, and trusting Him instead. You'd think with the track record He has with me, I'd try all those things first! But...I didn't. Time after time this year I freaked. Oh well...live and learn. Now its December, and that word grudgingly is fading away. I do the surrendering and the listening, and the trusting because I want to...and because I need to...and because yet again, He's proved Himself faithful in my life! So, in the midst of packing for China, and studying for finals, and saying adios to 2010, I'm trying to remember to thank Him. What a hard, refining, challenging, heartbreaking, awful, exciting, crazy, long year. But, what a blessing to know that I'm still Yours.
YOU ARE MY PASSION -by Jesus Culture
I'm alive to bring glory to You, King God of victory, You are my passion. It's in the way You are. You don't change at all. Great and humble God, You are my passion
My strength in life is I am Yours. My soul delights because I am Yours. Your will on earth is all I'm living for.
Jesus, I glorify; Jesus, my love is Yours. You are my heart's desire. I live to know You more.
Light that breaks the darkness, showing what true love is, always full of goodness, You are my passion. You never do me wrong, the meekest man, but strong, the most perfect song, You are my passion.
My strength in life is I am Yours. My soul delights because I am Yours. Your will on earth is all I'm living for.
From 2 to 4. Yes, our apartment doubled overnight! About 3ish weeks ago I got a puppy, aka Sallie. If you know me at all, then your first reaction was probably pretty similar to all the rest of my friends and family. Something along the lines of- WHAT?! Leah...don't. You don't even like dogs! You're crazy! Or my favorite...we'll just have to see I guess. And normally, I would be completely annoyed/hurt by the lack of support from my "friends". But in this case I have to say....I couldnt blame them. I almost came to just expect those responses as soon as anyone heard the news. Because, its true. I don't like dogs and never have. In fact, I think that 90% of dogs are awfully unattractive creatures. I'm not afraid of them or anything like that. I just think they are dirty, their breath is almost unbearable, they lick your face, they poop and pee and shed everywhere, and you have to plan your whole day around letting them out and playing with them etc...I mean, don't take this the wrong way but...they're like kids. And I never understood someone willingly taking on all of the above for something that will never talk to you or grow up or move out and become independent.
But slowly a weird urking started happening inside me this semester. That's the best word I can find to describe it-an urk. I started listening more closely when people told stories of the love and joy that they get from their dog. I started looking around me and seeing a dog here or there that made me think to myself hmm thats actually a cool looking dog! I noticed more of the good things like: a dog running right beside this lady when she was jogging on Old Omen...not in front of her dragging her down the road, and not lagging way behind her completely miserable, but right down at her side running at the same pace. It just looked cool. Or the guy at the soccer field playing frisbee with his golden retriever (ps: before owning Sallie, a golden retriever is the only dog breed that I could point out confidently. anything else and I wouldn't be able to tell the difference in a poodle and a basset hound) I loved the thought of taking my dog for a run or to the park to play with a ball. Part of me wanted that. But I think really what it came down to was a combination of those experiences, my spontaneous personality and need for adventure, a longing for a responsibility and way to spend my free time, a desire for something to love and care for (and a hope that it would maybe do the same back, despite all my years of pessimism), and ultimately, just a new season of life. The timing seemed right. So, Sarah and I made our way to Petland. In my mind, I'm not leaving there with a dog unless that dog is absolutely perfect and fits the random list of qualities I had assembled in my head. And I'm pretty confident that the idea of leaving with TWO dogs was definitely NOT in mine or Sarah's mind. But long story short...we walk in...fall in love, literally at the first crate of puppies...and come home the next day with Sallie and Riley.
And even though it took no more than 2 or 3 days before I stopped referring to her as "the perfect puppy", I can tell you that I really do love and am so thankful I decided to get Sallie. I'm convinced that God's hand has been over the whole thing and blown away by the reminder that God knows my heart. For example: the first week, Sallie stayed in my lap or in my arms pretty much all day. And she was asleep for most of that so it was even better. At the same time, Riley, aka tripod...crazy...runt...was not exactly calm and chill and quiet like Sallie. Both of them are absolutely the cutest, greatest puppies...but we quickly learned the differences in their personalities. I cant count the number of times I whispered Thanks God...thanks God...thanks God. I, the amateur dog-owner, would have been absolutely overwhelmed if Riley was my dog that first week. I wouldn't have been able to adjust, I'm sure I wouldve just gotten frustrated, annoyed, and given up. I'm not sure if there is a return policy at Petland, but if I had left there with any dog other than Sallie, I'm convinced I would've brought her back. Now before you get the wrong idea that Sallie is an angel and Riley is just crazy, I have to tell you about these last 2 weeks. Sallie (and Leah) adjusted to life with each other. Sallie started to get comfortable with the apartment, with me, and with Riley and Sarah. Soon after that, the puppy that I had started to just assume came right out of the womb already potty-trained, began leaving her little pee puddles on the floor and in her kennel and pooping on the clean towels. She no longer slept in my arms 24/7...instead, seemingly overnight, she became this constant ball of energy who always wanted to play and wrestle. AND to top it all off, her new favorite hours to play/whine/pee became 3am and 6am. Ask anyone you want-those are not my friendliest hours!
All that to say, Sallie has quickly earned a few choice nicknames herself. And earlier this week I was convinced she was beginning to think her name was NO instead of Sallie. But I still love her tremendously. I went to Washington DC this weekend and actually missed her...alot. I look both ways like 3 times before crossing the street to take her to go potty just to triple check for cars coming around the corner. And she's even in my dreams sometimes. The love I have for her surprises me all the time and is nothing like I would've ever expected. ever. She's exactly what I needed. There's no doubt in my mind that it was all my Father's doing...He's just taking care of His daughter.I'm thankful to for the opportunity to learn patience through something whose love for me never stops and is unconditional. I mean, where else can you find that besides in God and in a dog? While the patience lessons seem to never end, neither does Sallie's love. If I'm tired and snap at her for whining when I'm trying to sleep, she still loves me. Or if I groan the whole time shes decides she needs to pee at 3 am in the freezing cold, she still loves me. Or if I whack her a little too hard after she makes a mess of her kennel for the 5th time that day, she just climbs into my lap and looks at me with those sweet eyes that just seem to shout, I still love you... I'm thankful, in the weirdest way possible, for her poop and my reaction to her poop. I hate it- it makes a mess...its smells...its gross...and its one of those things that belong nowhere but the toilet. But every time I clean it up. And I clean her up. I might get angry and even gag a little bit, but I will always clean it up. And inevitably...she will do it again. It reminds me of my sin and of Gods love and forgiveness for me. I've been known to make some pretty big messes in my life. Ive gotten myself dirty. But God has always, always cleaned me up and loved me just the same. And just like Sallie, I know that I'll mess up again. But His love for me never ends. Now every time Sallie leaves a mess I get super frustrated, and sometimes just plain shocked because I just took her outside, but I'm completely sure that a small part of me smiles because of the reminder that comes with it :)
I'm thankful for you Sallie. And I love you so much.
You awaken my heart from slumbering Meet me in mourning, and You speak to my grief You're the light in my darkness, The delight of my eyes, the hope of the daybreak when the sun's slow to rise. I trust that every moments in Your hands...
You're the God of my days, The King of my nights, Lord of my laughter, Sovereign in sorrow. You're the Prince of my praise, The love of my life, You never leave me, YOU ARE FAITHFUL-God of my days.
You unveil my eyes, Help me to see the arms of my Father encircling me. You're a constant companion, I am never alone. Your love is the banner that is leading me home...
You're the God of my days, The King of my nights. Lord of my laughter, Sovereign in sorrow. You're the Prince of my praise, The love of my life. You never leave me, You are faithful-God of my days.
My eyes are on You My hope is in You My faith is in You My eyes are on You My hope is in You My faith is in You