Uncertainties. Anxieties. Relief. Faith.

"I sought the Lord and He answered me and delivered me from all my fears…. Oh, fear the Lord, you his saints, for those who fear him have no lack! The young lions suffer want and hunger; but those who seek the Lord lack no good thing." - Psalm 34:4, 9-10

I’ll be honest as I sit down to write this post, I don’t even really know where to begin. The only words that I can really speak right now are: “God is good.” 

If you’re reading this blog chances are you know how hard it’s been for me this past year. Almost one year ago exactly I was grieving my departure from Argentina and stepping into a new chapter of my life. This last year has been one of the hardest for me spiritually because I came home to Florida only to realize I had never felt further away from “home”. (see previous blog post) I suffered to find community and had no idea what steps to take to fulfill God’s plan for my life. The biggest ? of them all, though, was what job I should pursue. I knew that I didn’t want to be in Niceville, and didn’t think it was healthy for me spiritually, but I didn’t know how to leave or where to go or what I’d even do there. 

So, after a serious of events, I spent my year in Niceville waiting tables, helping my family as my mom underwent two surgeries, worked as a bilingual data-collector, and then eventually planned to move in with my best friend Kristi to Chicago- still direction-less, but anxious to make a change. 

Although It’d be easy to look back and say that this past year was a waste, I know that each and every moment has been part of an incredible journey God purposed for me. I just recently (on Friday!!) was offered a job as an Event Manager for a company here in Chicago called Marcus Evans. They are an international company and my job will be to plan 2-3 day events for leading executives where we provide networking and expertise in their particular industry. My first event will be in February in Panama!!! I’m so blessed to have been offered this position, and so humbled at seeing how God has answered my prayer.  As I accept this position and reflect back, I see how so many of the puzzle pieces are coming together- my job as a data collector helped me improve my Spanish in a professional setting, my time waiting tables increased my salesmanship and gave me confidence in speaking with people I don’t know, my love of the big city led me to Chicago, where Kristi just so happened to need a new roommate…. and the list goes on. 

A few days ago I came across this commentary from Matthew Henry on Psalm 30. Here’s what He says: “When things are well with us, we are very apt to think that they will always be so. When we see our mistake, it becomes us to think with shame upon our carnal security as our folly. If God hide his face, a good man is troubled, though no other calamity befal him. But if God, in wisdom and justice, turn from us, it will be the greatest folly if we turn from him. No; let us learn to pray in the dark." This last statement really struck me because I think for the first time I realized I was in dark. My type A personality doesn’t favor the unknown, and my prayer life had been reflecting that. 

Though I may not be as “in the dark” about my job situation now, I want to incorporate this revelation in the future, or in current circumstances that are uncertain. My faith has been tested and refined so much in this last year, and as I processed out loud with my roommate yesterday, I shared with her how I always stress and agonize over these various uncertainties, but in the end come out believing stronger and with more certainty that my God is who He says He is. What an incredible God who uses these situations to draw us closer to Him. 

"I sought the Lord and he answered me and delivered me from all my fears…" 


"Have mercy on me, O God, according to your steadfast love;according to your abundant mercy blot out my transgressions”

I ran across this psalm of David’s this morning and was reminded again of how abundant God’s grace really is. David wrote this psalm after his infamous night with Bathsheba. It’s easy to read that story or to read this psalm and not understand David’s pain. We get so jaded by our own sin in our lives sometimes. This morning as I read through this psalm, the Lord revealed to me my own sin and shame and the beauty of his grace. I needed that reminder today. 
      “Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin! For I know my transgressions, and my sin is ever before me. Against you, you only, have I sinned and done what is evil in your sight, so that you may be justified in your words and blameless in your judgment.” 
Just because our sin isn’t harmful to other people, or we don’t feel the consequences or guilt, doesn’t mean it isn’t sinful. The only person who often feels the weight of our sin is the Lord, but how much more should that drive us to repentance? I don’t mean to say that we should wallow in our shamefulness, but repentance is much more than that. It means a desire to change- to turn away from our behavior that so often grieves the Lord. 

"Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity, and in sin did my mother conceive me. Behold, you delight in truth in the inward being, and you teach me wisdom in the secret heart."
"Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean; wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow. Let me hear joy and gladness; let the bones that you have broken rejoice.
Hide your face from my sins, and blot out my iniquities. Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me. Cast me not away from your presence, and take not your Holy Spirit from me.
Restore to me the joy of your salvation, and uphold me with a willing spirit.”

Only when we are honest with ourselves and with the Lord can he repair what has been broken. And in that reparation comes a fresh joy as we revel in the Lord’s forgiveness and unfailing mercies. 

"Then I will teach transgressors your ways, and sinners will return to you. Deliver me from bloodguiltiness, O God, O God of my salvation, and my tongue will sing aloud of your righteousness. 
O Lord, open my lips, and my mouth will declare your praise. 
For you will not delight in sacrifice, or I would give it; you will not be pleased with a burnt offering. 
The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise.”

I love this part of the psalm and how David describes his desire to please the Lord. He knows that this is only possible through God’s saving grace. By asking the Lord to open his lips, he shows his true dependance on Him, even to declare His praises. 

"Do good to Zion in your good pleasure; build up the walls of Jerusalem; then you will delight in right sacrifices, in burnt offerings and whole burnt offerings; then bulls will be offered on your altar."

David ends his psalm with a prayer for his people- that the Lord would be praised not only in His life, but all over the earth. 

I’m praying for a clean heart today, trusting in the Lord’s strength to heal, to forgive, and to change. Chicago is about a fresh start for me, but I know that none of that is possible without the Holy Spirit. I don’t want to lose sight of that in the midst of these changes. I hope this serves as a reminder of His love and faithfulness to you today, just as it has for me. 

"Have mercy on me, O God, according to your steadfast love;
according to your abundant mercy blot out my transgressions”

I ran across this psalm of David’s this morning and was reminded again of how abundant God’s grace really is. David wrote this psalm after his infamous night with Bathsheba. It’s easy to read that story or to read this psalm and not understand David’s pain. We get so jaded by our own sin in our lives sometimes. This morning as I read through this psalm, the Lord revealed to me my own sin and shame and the beauty of his grace. I needed that reminder today. 

      “Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin! For I know my transgressions, and my sin is ever before me. Against you, you only, have I sinned and done what is evil in your sight, so that you may be justified in your words and blameless in your judgment.” 

Just because our sin isn’t harmful to other people, or we don’t feel the consequences or guilt, doesn’t mean it isn’t sinful. The only person who often feels the weight of our sin is the Lord, but how much more should that drive us to repentance? I don’t mean to say that we should wallow in our shamefulness, but repentance is much more than that. It means a desire to change- to turn away from our behavior that so often grieves the Lord. 

"Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity, and in sin did my mother conceive me. Behold, you delight in truth in the inward being, and you teach me wisdom in the secret heart."

"Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean; wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow. Let me hear joy and gladness; let the bones that you have broken rejoice.

Hide your face from my sins, and blot out my iniquities. Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me. Cast me not away from your presence, and take not your Holy Spirit from me.

Restore to me the joy of your salvation, and uphold me with a willing spirit.”

Only when we are honest with ourselves and with the Lord can he repair what has been broken. And in that reparation comes a fresh joy as we revel in the Lord’s forgiveness and unfailing mercies. 

"Then I will teach transgressors your ways, and sinners will return to you. Deliver me from bloodguiltiness, O God, O God of my salvation, and my tongue will sing aloud of your righteousness. 

O Lord, open my lips, and my mouth will declare your praise. 

For you will not delight in sacrifice, or I would give it; you will not be pleased with a burnt offering. 

The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise.”

I love this part of the psalm and how David describes his desire to please the Lord. He knows that this is only possible through God’s saving grace. By asking the Lord to open his lips, he shows his true dependance on Him, even to declare His praises. 

"Do good to Zion in your good pleasure; build up the walls of Jerusalem; then you will delight in right sacrifices, in burnt offerings and whole burnt offerings; then bulls will be offered on your altar."

David ends his psalm with a prayer for his people- that the Lord would be praised not only in His life, but all over the earth. 

I’m praying for a clean heart today, trusting in the Lord’s strength to heal, to forgive, and to change. Chicago is about a fresh start for me, but I know that none of that is possible without the Holy Spirit. I don’t want to lose sight of that in the midst of these changes. I hope this serves as a reminder of His love and faithfulness to you today, just as it has for me. 

Nomad

Nomad 

a member of a people having no permanent abode, and who travel from place to place to find fresh pasture for their livestock.

• a person who does not stay long in the same place; a wanderer.

ORIGIN late 16th cent.: from French nomade, via Latin from Greek nomas, nomad- ‘roaming in search of pasture,’ from the base of nemein ‘to pasture.’

I find it interesting that the more industrialized our society has become, the less nomadic it has become. If we search through history, and even more specifically, biblical history, nomadic cultures are more of the norm rather than the exception. I love the stories of the Israelites as they spend 40 years wandering the desert. While it doesn’t exactly sound like a walk in the park, I can’t help but respect their necessity to depend on the Lord and nothing else as they moved from place to place, oftentimes with nowhere to lay their head. I long for that dependence on my Savior. 

Here’s where I’m coming from…

Life without Argentina has left me feeling, for lack of a better word, empty. I find myself longing to be back in Buenos Aires: in my apartment preparing for my discipleship appointments, in the park with friends, or dancing salsa until all hours of the morning. Then I force myself back into the reality that even if I did live there again, I’d miss home: my nieces and nephews who are constantly growing and changing, the endless variety of food at my fingertips, my loyal, irreplaceable, and steadfast friendships that help me keep my heart fixed on Jesus, but then again, Argentina has been such a huge part of my spiritual process… but the United States is where I grew up… it’s what I know. 

So where do I belong? 

Maybe that’s the whole point. I don’t belong here.

"But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will transform our lowly body to be like his glorious body, by the power that enables him even to subject all things to himself." {Philippians 3:20}

Over the years as we’ve developed socially, industrially and otherwise, we’ve decided it’s time to make our beds… and lie in them. The American Dream is all about reaching the top and parking your $90,000 car there alongside your million-dollar home without even a thought of what’s being sacrificed.  As our culture settles, we really are settling for something far less than what we were created for.  

There’s no need for God when I make enough money to feed 100 families. There’s no need for God when people respect me because of my reputation. There’s no need for God when I have a significant other who makes me feel good about myself. There’s no need for God when I do what I want, when I want, and how I want. 

Is that reality? I don’t think so.

The more attached I become to a particular place, the more out of place I really feel. My citizenship is in heaven.

The more attached I become to my stuff,  the more empty it leaves me. Every good and perfect thing comes from above.

This song puts into better words than I could ever muster to describe how I’m feeling. 

It was a beautiful let down

When I crashed and burned

When I found myself alone unknown and hurt

It was a beautiful let down

The day I knew

That all the riches this world had to offer me

Would never do

In a world full of bitter pain and bitter doubt

I was trying so hard to fit in, fit in,

Until I found out

I don’t belong here

I don’t belong here

I will carry a cross and a song where I don’t belong

But I don’t belong

It was a beautiful let down 

When you found me here

Yeah for once in a rare blue moon I see everything clear

I’ll be a beautiful let down

That’s what I’ll forever be

And though it may cost my soul

I’ll sing for free

We’re still chasin our tails and the rising sun

And our dark water planet’s

Still spinning in a race

Where no one wins and no one’s one

I don’t belong here

I don’t belong here

I’m gonna set sight and set sail for the kingdom come

I will carry a cross and a song where I don’t belong

But I don’t belong

I don’t belong here

I don’t belong here

Kingdom come

Your kingdom come

{Switchfoot- Beautiful Letdown}

Unfulfilled.
Frustrated.
Struggling.

These 3 words are an accurate description of my journey over the last decade in my relationship with the Lord. I’m a perfectionist by nature and my walk with the Lord is no exception. In high school, I was arrogant, trying to prove myself to others, to myself, and even to the Lord by making sure I didn’t “screw up” in front of others, especially non-believers.  I was legalistic, judgmental and secretly frustrated in my inability to achieve perfection. In college, I went through my own version of rebellion- abandoning many of my previous standards out of exasperation and desperation for change. I was no longer the pedantic Christian, but had instead transformed into an apathetic bystander in my relationship with the Lord. It wasn’t until this past year on STINT that the Lord started to reveal to me the cause of my malaise.  
Naturally, Argentina has cultivated my spiritual growth in a lot of ways, but probably the most valuable thing I will take away from my experience is how the Lord has revealed his very nature to me in such a fresh way. Over the past year, I’ve become more acquainted with the person of the Holy Spirit and as a result have been able to experience more intimacy in my relationship with the Lord.
I just recently finished reading Forgotten God by Francis Chan, which deals with this third identity of God, whom is often neglected.  As Chan describes his sin struggles and the disconnect they caused between himself and the Lord, it was easy to connectwith his sentiments: “I wanted to prove that I was sorry for what I did by being faithful for a period of time… I wanted God to see that I could be a good servant… But God didn’t want a good slave that tried really hard. He wanted me to see that He was a good Father. He wants intimacy” (emphasis mine).
So many times I think that the end I’m striving for is this state of perfection: never sinning, always doing the “right thing”, and with total and complete humility. Easy enough, right??
As I read this book and as the Lord began to reveal to me the power of the Holy Spirit, I was reminded that this is not the goal. The greatest error I was committing was not the fight against the sins in my life, but it was that in trying to overcome these sins, I was taking complete control of everything. I was trying to work things out in my own strength to prove that I was a “good servant”. Christ’s mission, however, in going to the cross was not because He wanted us to lead these perfect lives in response. Christ went to the cross because He loves us and desires intimacy with us that was only possible through His sacrifice.
“Nevertheless, I tell you the truth: it is to your advantage that I go away, for if I do not go away, the helper will not come to you. But if I go, I will send him to you.” (John 16:7)
And now, God, by giving us the Holy Spirit, desires for us to experience that intimacy daily by surrendering complete control to Him and allowing Him to transform us.  The frustration I was experiencing in my life wasn’t caused by my failures, but by my control.
I wish I could say this was an easy learning process, but it wasn’t. Giving up control can be painful and scary, but there is nothing greater than seeing the Lord work through our lives in the ways that He desires. When I think about the fact that the same God I serve is the creator of the Universe, who understands the complexities and intricacies of the Human body, who is the same God who called the galaxies into being, and is the same God who controls the storms, I’m suddenly left with a different perspective. If God left His Holy Spirit to live and dwell in me, WHY would I not claim that gift?! Romans 8:9 states “You, however, are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if in fact the Spirit of God dwells in you. Anyone who does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to him.” So then, the question for those of us who believe is not: “Do I have the Holy Spirit?” but rather, “Am I allowing the Holy Spirit to work powerfully in my life?”.
As we read through scripture, there is great evidence of God moving because of how the Church was relying on the power of the Holy Spirit to heal and to save the lost. These famous verses in Acts 2, just shortly after the Pentecost, are just one example of this:
“And awe came upon every soul, and many wonders and signs were being done through the apostles. And all who believed were together and had all things in common. And they were selling their possessions and belongings and distributing the proceeds to all, as any had need. And day by day, attending the temple together, and breaking bread in their homes, they received their food with glad and generous hearts, praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to their number day by day those who were being saved.” (Acts 2:43-47)
Francis Chan concludes his book describing how different the Church would look if we were consistently guided by the Holy Spirit in this same way. As Chan reflects on his own story, he states, “I don’t want my life to be explainable without the Holy Spirit.”
 How would you explain your life if someone asked? Is it even possible to tell your story without mentioning the Lord or is there a necessity for supernatural power? As we reflect on these challenges, my prayer is that we would surrender all things to the Lord and allow Him to work mightily in our lives for the sake of His glory and His Kingdom.  

Unfulfilled.

Frustrated.

Struggling.

These 3 words are an accurate description of my journey over the last decade in my relationship with the Lord. I’m a perfectionist by nature and my walk with the Lord is no exception. In high school, I was arrogant, trying to prove myself to others, to myself, and even to the Lord by making sure I didn’t “screw up” in front of others, especially non-believers.  I was legalistic, judgmental and secretly frustrated in my inability to achieve perfection. In college, I went through my own version of rebellion- abandoning many of my previous standards out of exasperation and desperation for change. I was no longer the pedantic Christian, but had instead transformed into an apathetic bystander in my relationship with the Lord. It wasn’t until this past year on STINT that the Lord started to reveal to me the cause of my malaise.  

Naturally, Argentina has cultivated my spiritual growth in a lot of ways, but probably the most valuable thing I will take away from my experience is how the Lord has revealed his very nature to me in such a fresh way. Over the past year, I’ve become more acquainted with the person of the Holy Spirit and as a result have been able to experience more intimacy in my relationship with the Lord.

I just recently finished reading Forgotten God by Francis Chan, which deals with this third identity of God, whom is often neglected.  As Chan describes his sin struggles and the disconnect they caused between himself and the Lord, it was easy to connectwith his sentiments: “I wanted to prove that I was sorry for what I did by being faithful for a period of time… I wanted God to see that I could be a good servant… But God didn’t want a good slave that tried really hard. He wanted me to see that He was a good Father. He wants intimacy” (emphasis mine).

So many times I think that the end I’m striving for is this state of perfection: never sinning, always doing the “right thing”, and with total and complete humility. Easy enough, right??

As I read this book and as the Lord began to reveal to me the power of the Holy Spirit, I was reminded that this is not the goal. The greatest error I was committing was not the fight against the sins in my life, but it was that in trying to overcome these sins, I was taking complete control of everything. I was trying to work things out in my own strength to prove that I was a “good servant”. Christ’s mission, however, in going to the cross was not because He wanted us to lead these perfect lives in response. Christ went to the cross because He loves us and desires intimacy with us that was only possible through His sacrifice.

“Nevertheless, I tell you the truth: it is to your advantage that I go away, for if I do not go away, the helper will not come to you. But if I go, I will send him to you.” (John 16:7)

And now, God, by giving us the Holy Spirit, desires for us to experience that intimacy daily by surrendering complete control to Him and allowing Him to transform us.  The frustration I was experiencing in my life wasn’t caused by my failures, but by my control.

I wish I could say this was an easy learning process, but it wasn’t. Giving up control can be painful and scary, but there is nothing greater than seeing the Lord work through our lives in the ways that He desires. When I think about the fact that the same God I serve is the creator of the Universe, who understands the complexities and intricacies of the Human body, who is the same God who called the galaxies into being, and is the same God who controls the storms, I’m suddenly left with a different perspective. If God left His Holy Spirit to live and dwell in me, WHY would I not claim that gift?! Romans 8:9 states “You, however, are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if in fact the Spirit of God dwells in you. Anyone who does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to him.” So then, the question for those of us who believe is not: “Do I have the Holy Spirit?” but rather, “Am I allowing the Holy Spirit to work powerfully in my life?”.

As we read through scripture, there is great evidence of God moving because of how the Church was relying on the power of the Holy Spirit to heal and to save the lost. These famous verses in Acts 2, just shortly after the Pentecost, are just one example of this:

“And awe came upon every soul, and many wonders and signs were being done through the apostles. And all who believed were together and had all things in common. And they were selling their possessions and belongings and distributing the proceeds to all, as any had need. And day by day, attending the temple together, and breaking bread in their homes, they received their food with glad and generous hearts, praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to their number day by day those who were being saved.” (Acts 2:43-47)

Francis Chan concludes his book describing how different the Church would look if we were consistently guided by the Holy Spirit in this same way. As Chan reflects on his own story, he states, “I don’t want my life to be explainable without the Holy Spirit.”

 How would you explain your life if someone asked? Is it even possible to tell your story without mentioning the Lord or is there a necessity for supernatural power? As we reflect on these challenges, my prayer is that we would surrender all things to the Lord and allow Him to work mightily in our lives for the sake of His glory and His Kingdom.  

You know those people in your life that are just AWESOME? I have some friends that give the rest of the world a lot to live up to- they’re caring, wise, gentle, hilarious, and above all things, passionately in love with the Lord. 
Well, before I left for Argentina, one of these great girlfriends of mine gave me a journal with some questions to ponder during my year on STINT. Throughout the past 7 months, I’ve slowly answered a few of them.. but I thought it might be fun to share :)
1. In what ways do you want God to grow you over the course of this year?
 (Answer from 9/15/10) I think the biggest way I want God to grow me is in my humility and overall need for Him. I’m praying that the Lord will break me of my pride- how I think I’m better than others, that my desires come first, and just my overall obsession with myself. I want to learn to love others more deeply and more than myself! I also want to grow in my daily time spent with the Lord. I want to read more Scripture and learn how to make my time with the Lord fruitful.
2. In what areas of your life are you trusting God?
(Answer from 10/19/10) think STINT so far has been a time of truly trusting God with EVERYTHING. You don’t fully realize how reliant on yourself, friends, family, and so many other things you are until they’re all stripped away. Everyday I feel a little out of place. I’m trying to trust the Lord in my identity, my worth, and my strength. My pride is torn down a little more each day as I struggle like a 3 yr. old to produce coherent sentences. I don’t want to find my value in how well I speak Spanish. My value is in Christ, because He values me. Easier said than done. I need Him so much. Praise Him for never abandoning me. 
3. Do you have any fears or unbelief that have become evident in your life?
 (Answer from 10/19/10) Wow. Everyday. This ties in so well with the other question. I doubt everyday that God can use me. As if it has to do with what I have to offer… I just want to believe that He will and see Him do it! I think I’m also realizing that I fear not loving God enough. Like, if I’m not doing this, this, and this.. I don’t really love Him. But, I know that this isn’t from the Lord. I know Satan comes in and tries to distract from what god is doing in me. I know that I love the Lord. I know that I need to grow in that love, but it isn’t dependent on what I do or don’t do. Just on the condition of my heart.
4. What was your first impression upon arriving in Argentina?
 (Answer from mid-November sometime) Honest first impression- it was dirty. I think one of the first things I noticed was the brokenness. there was trash all over the streets, people everywhere, and overall just really overwhelming. 
 … (Let me add a little..) I don’t think what struck me was just the physical filth of the city, and I’m not saying big cities in the States are any better… if anything probably worse, but I think it was just realizing how many people live in this city and how many are just utterly LOST. I couldn’t believe that I was really in Argentina. And that God wanted to use ME to bring the news of Salvation here. What a great God I serve!
5. What are you having the hardest time adjusting to?
 (Answer from mid-November) Good Question now that I’ve been here for a little over 2 1/2 months. Now that I’m starting to have a little more of a life here, living in an apartment, making friends, etc, it has definitely been getting easier to adjust. One of the hardest adjustments has been how long everything takes- spending so much time to run errands is frustrating. Also just figuring out ministry here has been difficult. Trying to find my place and learning how things work.
6. How are your personal times with God?
 Looking back at the first question and thinking about how I wanted the Lord to grow me in this area, I think it’s been cool to see Him answer that prayer. I definitely feel like I’ve learned to connect with the Lord in different ways and on a more consistent basis. It’s a constant process, and a constant struggle, but I’m so thankful for my “Day with the Lord”, once a month, where I can really re-examine my times with Him and the areas I want to grow in.
7. How would you describe your team dynamic?
 Our team is AWESOME. 4 girls and 3 guys… we’re basically the FRIENDS series, plus one… and without all the relationship drama. I am constantly reminded that they are the Lord’s provision for me here and I couldn’t ask for a more unique, special group of people to spend my time with. My 3 roommates, Cari, Jessica, and Tiffany are all very different, but beautiful girls. Jessica is the team leader, the hard-worker, but yet also the crazy one, breaking out her Nacho Libre mask whenever the moment calls for it. She also has an incredible heart for prayer that I think inspires us all to fall on our knees more. Cari is the relational one. She loves being with people and lives in the moment. You can count on her to be 100% present, not just with physical presence, but really engaged in what’s happening around her. I’ve learned a lot from how she takes advantage of every opportunity to be with people and KNOW people. Tiffany is silent, but deadly :). She’s often really quiet, but once you get to know her… the spice comes out! She’s got the biggest heart  and I learn a lot from her gentle spirit and how she always puts others needs before her own.
As far as the boys… John Mark is the clown. 90% of our conversations revolve around making fun of each other… but the 10% that isn’t is always really challenging and encouraging. He’s definitely an honest, inspiring person to have around and I’m so appreciative of the work He’s doing here. Ben is the talkative one. He can talk to anyone, at anytime, in any place. He has a great memory, not only for random facts, but also for what people tell Him. As much as He talks, I also feel like He listens. He’s taught me how to be a better conversationalist, not just with small talk, but engaging in conversations and really getting to know people better. Garrett is the intellectual. Although convinced his twin sister is the smarter one, He’s one of the smartest people I met… that’s also really normal. He loves challenging him in different areas, and I’ve learned to take more risks and challenge myself more just by watching Him grow. 
Enough questions for now… I’ll finish the other half another time :)

You know those people in your life that are just AWESOME? I have some friends that give the rest of the world a lot to live up to- they’re caring, wise, gentle, hilarious, and above all things, passionately in love with the Lord. 

Well, before I left for Argentina, one of these great girlfriends of mine gave me a journal with some questions to ponder during my year on STINT. Throughout the past 7 months, I’ve slowly answered a few of them.. but I thought it might be fun to share :)

1. In what ways do you want God to grow you over the course of this year?

(Answer from 9/15/10) I think the biggest way I want God to grow me is in my humility and overall need for Him. I’m praying that the Lord will break me of my pride- how I think I’m better than others, that my desires come first, and just my overall obsession with myself. I want to learn to love others more deeply and more than myself! I also want to grow in my daily time spent with the Lord. I want to read more Scripture and learn how to make my time with the Lord fruitful.

2. In what areas of your life are you trusting God?

(Answer from 10/19/10) think STINT so far has been a time of truly trusting God with EVERYTHING. You don’t fully realize how reliant on yourself, friends, family, and so many other things you are until they’re all stripped away. Everyday I feel a little out of place. I’m trying to trust the Lord in my identity, my worth, and my strength. My pride is torn down a little more each day as I struggle like a 3 yr. old to produce coherent sentences. I don’t want to find my value in how well I speak Spanish. My value is in Christ, because He values me. Easier said than done. I need Him so much. Praise Him for never abandoning me. 

3. Do you have any fears or unbelief that have become evident in your life?

(Answer from 10/19/10) Wow. Everyday. This ties in so well with the other question. I doubt everyday that God can use me. As if it has to do with what I have to offer… I just want to believe that He will and see Him do it! I think I’m also realizing that I fear not loving God enough. Like, if I’m not doing this, this, and this.. I don’t really love Him. But, I know that this isn’t from the Lord. I know Satan comes in and tries to distract from what god is doing in me. I know that I love the Lord. I know that I need to grow in that love, but it isn’t dependent on what I do or don’t do. Just on the condition of my heart.

4. What was your first impression upon arriving in Argentina?

(Answer from mid-November sometime) Honest first impression- it was dirty. I think one of the first things I noticed was the brokenness. there was trash all over the streets, people everywhere, and overall just really overwhelming. 

… (Let me add a little..) I don’t think what struck me was just the physical filth of the city, and I’m not saying big cities in the States are any better… if anything probably worse, but I think it was just realizing how many people live in this city and how many are just utterly LOST. I couldn’t believe that I was really in Argentina. And that God wanted to use ME to bring the news of Salvation here. What a great God I serve!

5. What are you having the hardest time adjusting to?

(Answer from mid-November) Good Question now that I’ve been here for a little over 2 1/2 months. Now that I’m starting to have a little more of a life here, living in an apartment, making friends, etc, it has definitely been getting easier to adjust. One of the hardest adjustments has been how long everything takes- spending so much time to run errands is frustrating. Also just figuring out ministry here has been difficult. Trying to find my place and learning how things work.

6. How are your personal times with God?

Looking back at the first question and thinking about how I wanted the Lord to grow me in this area, I think it’s been cool to see Him answer that prayer. I definitely feel like I’ve learned to connect with the Lord in different ways and on a more consistent basis. It’s a constant process, and a constant struggle, but I’m so thankful for my “Day with the Lord”, once a month, where I can really re-examine my times with Him and the areas I want to grow in.

7. How would you describe your team dynamic?

Our team is AWESOME. 4 girls and 3 guys… we’re basically the FRIENDS series, plus one… and without all the relationship drama. I am constantly reminded that they are the Lord’s provision for me here and I couldn’t ask for a more unique, special group of people to spend my time with. My 3 roommates, Cari, Jessica, and Tiffany are all very different, but beautiful girls. Jessica is the team leader, the hard-worker, but yet also the crazy one, breaking out her Nacho Libre mask whenever the moment calls for it. She also has an incredible heart for prayer that I think inspires us all to fall on our knees more. Cari is the relational one. She loves being with people and lives in the moment. You can count on her to be 100% present, not just with physical presence, but really engaged in what’s happening around her. I’ve learned a lot from how she takes advantage of every opportunity to be with people and KNOW people. Tiffany is silent, but deadly :). She’s often really quiet, but once you get to know her… the spice comes out! She’s got the biggest heart  and I learn a lot from her gentle spirit and how she always puts others needs before her own.

As far as the boys… John Mark is the clown. 90% of our conversations revolve around making fun of each other… but the 10% that isn’t is always really challenging and encouraging. He’s definitely an honest, inspiring person to have around and I’m so appreciative of the work He’s doing here. Ben is the talkative one. He can talk to anyone, at anytime, in any place. He has a great memory, not only for random facts, but also for what people tell Him. As much as He talks, I also feel like He listens. He’s taught me how to be a better conversationalist, not just with small talk, but engaging in conversations and really getting to know people better. Garrett is the intellectual. Although convinced his twin sister is the smarter one, He’s one of the smartest people I met… that’s also really normal. He loves challenging him in different areas, and I’ve learned to take more risks and challenge myself more just by watching Him grow. 

Enough questions for now… I’ll finish the other half another time :)