Sunday, February 27, 2011

Hearing the Voice of God

Big day today. Lots to share, but hang in there with me and I hope you'll be blessed - as I was!

Our home church here, Spout Springs Church, gave us the opportunity to speak today about how God is working in our lives and calling us to Cambodia. It started with a song that speaks to me every time I hear it. The song is I will follow you by Christ Tomlin. It's beautiful. Here is the main part of the chorus...

Where you go, I'll go
Where you stay, I'll stay
When you move, I'll move
I will follow you
Who you love, I'll love
How you serve I'll serve
If this life I lose, I will follow you
I will follow you
And, if this works, you can listen to it here Chris Tomlin - I Will Follow (2010 Video & Lyrics)

I guess it speaks to me because it's how I feel about God. After that beautiful song, they played an NBC news clip from 2003 that highlighted the work of IJM in Cambodia. It's only a couple minutes so you should take a look at it.

Not fun to watch, huh? It makes me want to hug my kids every time I see it. And I saw it three times today at church. It breaks my heart, but that's why we're going. To help these hearts, these spirits, these people that truly are broken. To follow up the video, our pastor interviewed us on stage. That was great as it helped increase both awareness of IJM and of our personal "mission" there. We were excited to share our news and share how we clearly hear the voice of God calling us there.

And us sharing today worked out great because Pastor Steve preached an awesome sermon on following God and clearly discerning His voice amongst the other voices in our heads... voices of selfishness, fear, and so many others. God's voice is there. We just have to learn to listen to it and distinguish it above the others. Kind of like a mom who can pick out her child's cry from across a roomful of children. That was his example, not mine. But I can totally relate, can't you? God is speaking and He wants us to listen. So, how do we do it? Well, here's some more of what he said. You can always watch the sermon at the church website. That would be way better than my short, mistake-filled synopsis! I did hear it 3 times, though, and I never got tired of it, so I'm excited to share.

We have to make an appointment to talk to him... for our sake, not His, of course. Any time of day is good. Mark 1:35 talks of early morning, Psalm 119:55 talks of evening time with God. But Luke 5:16 shows us that any time is good, and Jesus prayed often. The key is to make it a priority. Then we let Him speak to us by reading our Bible. The Bible gives a clear picture of God and we learn about Him by reading it. It helps to journal our thoughts after reading, too. And then we have to talk to Him. We do this by prayer. Prayer means so much more to me these days than ever before. I feel lost when I'm not praying. It was through prayer that God changed my heart. I had to wrestle with Him and not let go until He changed me... until He blessed me. And, oh, is it scary! I am terrified about living in a place I've never even visited and honestly couldn't even find on a map until a couple weeks ago! But His blessings abound and we felt them this morning at church.

Thank you to those who support our journey. We are all one body in Christ and my family can't continue without you. You're so important to this mission. We were truly blessed to hear how much our home church is supporting us. And I'm not even talking about finances yet! The amount of money that the church and the people in it have pledged is so generous. I'll tell you all more about that in the coming weeks. You'll get a chance to contribute, too, if you choose.

And to those who are not supportive or are not sure what to think of our journey, I ask this. Please pray. If you don't understand this and are the kind of person that needs to understand, pray that God shows YOU His plan for us. Remember that the Israelites who were afraid to enter the promised land because they feared the "giants" were the ones who died in the wilderness. Not following His call is much more dangerous.

As the last service ended, a lady tapped me on the shoulder and handed me a piece of paper that comforted me greatly. It just said "Psalm 121 God's protection." And yes, of course, I looked it up immediately. Here's what it says:

The LORD Our Protector

1 I raise my eyes toward the mountains.
Where will my help come from?

2 My help comes from the LORD,
the Maker of heaven and earth.

3 He will not allow your foot to slip;
your Protector will not slumber.

4 Indeed, the Protector of Israel
does not slumber or sleep.

5 The LORD protects you;
the LORD is a shelter right by your side.

6 The sun will not strike you by day,
or the moon by night.

7 The LORD will protect you from all harm;
He will protect your life.

8 The LORD will protect your coming and going
both now and forever.

There is nothing that can comfort me more than hearing God speak to me through His Word.

Lord, thank you for showing yourself to me. Where you go, I'll go. I will follow you.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Of course I'm afraid!

So, I posted the exciting news about Cambodia on my facebook page and so many people flooded my inbox with emails. Most were encouraging and all were wonderful. Thank you for your responses! Some of the real comments I got were things like "you sound so happy about all this" or "your excitement is contagious" or "you make it sound so easy" but I did get a few other types of comments too. Several friends asked if I realized how different and hard it would be or why I didn't sound afraid. I guess I have to address that now....

YES! I am afraid. I'm terrified in a way! But I am confident in God's power and that He has put that power in me. This will be a dark place for sure. Any place missing Christ is dark and dangerous. It will be dirty, it will be incredibly sad, it will not always be safe, and it'll never be glamorous. I know these things. I do. But I also know that I'm going to be a part of that light. And one light in a sea of darkness changes everything. Please pray for me and my family as we try so hard to be that light. Pray that we will continue when we fail, because we will fail at times. We are sinners. But we will keep trying. We will ask God for a renewed strength and Spirit every morning. And He will provide. I know it.

So I choose to focus on that. Why worry about all the bad stuff when there is so much excitement to think about? When my husband deployed to Afghanistan I was left with a choice - to let this separation keep us apart or to let it draw us closer to God - allowing Him to fill in the holes we were left with in our hearts. I chose Him. And my marriage got better because of it. I know today is no different. Choosing to follow Him will not always be easy. It may never be easy for us, but it is always better.

"What, then, shall we say in response to this? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things?" Romans 8:31-32

God will take care of us. I know it with all my heart. The heart He created in the ME He created. So, I choose to view this as an adventure. An exciting, awesome, purposeful, meaningful adventure. An adventure that will hopefully further His kingdom!

We'd love to know you are praying for us, though! We'll always need that for sure.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Phnom Penh, Cambodia

Well, big news above in the title, huh? That's where we'll be moving in June of this year. For those who are totally lost and don't have a clue why we'd be moving there, you can check out the letter we sent out at Christmas time here.

But, just for an update, let me fill in the details about where! We are moving to the capital city of Cambodia, called Phnom Penh. I've known it was a possiblity for days and in that time I've devoured any reading about the country and its people that I can get my hands on. With that new knowledge I'm getting more excited every day about the place. Here are some fun facts I've learned about Cambodia and Pnomh Penh.

Here it is on the map

*It's very close to the equator, at just 11 degrees N.
*Weather is nice - ranges from 69-95 year round but with monsoons from March to October.
*It's 12 hours ahead of us (US Eastern) on the timeline.
*Phnom Penh is the capital city. That's where we would be, in a furnished apartment/condo in a neighborhood that houses many ex-patriots
*90% of the people are actively practicing Buddhism. Less than 0.5% are Christian.
*Christianity is quickly spreading and there are several protestant churches in the city.
*As a result of many years of war, over 50% of the population is under 22, with some sources claiming 45% are under 14.
*Tourism, Rice, and Textiles are their top 3 means of income in the country.
*With such a young population that is hungry both physically and spiritually, Christian aid groups are widely present in the area and working hard to change the future of the country.

Sounds great, huh? I know many of you can't fathom moving to another country for a year. There's so much to think about... what to take and what to leave, how to adapt to a place that speaks a foreign language, how to explain it to the kids, how to raise financial support, how to emotionally deal with such a huge change... and on and on...

But I know how you feel because I was there. I was totally worried about it and asked many questions myself. I prayed and God completely changed my heart. I'm so excited about this journey and I find myself getting more excited every day. That has to be His work. I couldn't do this on my own.

And you know what? It's a great adventure. Really, following God is fun!!! He's about to take my family to a place we've never been before and give us unique experiences we've never even dreamed of. And He's waited for eternity for ME to do THIS work He has prepared in Cambodia. How is that NOT exciting?!?!

What's your call? What adventure is waiting for you? And what are you waiting for? Let's go!

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Planning to Plan

What a day we had yesterday! I found out it was a holiday for my husband and that he'd be home so what did I do? Well, I planned every minute of it, of course! I was excited to check lots of stuff off the to-do list, such as getting my cell phone repaired, getting passport photos, getting the passports themselves, getting an oil change for the super cool mini-van we have, a quick shopping trip to Wal-Mart, mailing 86 packages for my photo business I run on the side ('cause I don't have enough to do!), and enjoying a nice lunch with the family! Sure, it's a long list, but it's doable right? Well, that's what I thought... until I remembered that these two little boys need naps, too. That kind of put a time limit on things.

Knowing that a time limit was in place, I needed a plan. I planned every minute of that morning and we got it all done! But I couldn't help but find myself chuckling to myself throughout the morning as I thought about how much planning I put into these errands... and how little everyone else realized it! Really, I mean, they just got up, got dressed, and got in the car. It's so easy and they have NO idea how much work I put into the day.

And it's always that way. So I couldn't help but laugh when Stephen said this morning (now the next day) that he wanted to take a few minutes and plan our trip to Disney World. HAHAHAHA! A few minutes!! If he only knew how much time it took for me to plan a simple morning of running errands...

And even though it will take much more than a few minutes to plan a trip to Disney World, we did take a few minutes to plan a time to plan the trip, so that's pretty good.

Oh, how different life will be after we move to a third world country...

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

My attempt at this blogging stuff

Ok, so here we go...

I'm totally not a writer. I mean, sure, I have a lot to say, just ask my husband, but putting it down on paper (or typing it on a keyboard) has never really happened before. Still, with the big adventure our family is about to go through, I feel I have to share, if not for anyone's benefit then at least for mine down the road as I look back at the journey!

Where do I begin? I guess I begin with an introduction to those that don't know me. Let's see. This is my family:

Stephen's my husband. He's pretty great. That's why I married him. He is currently a JAG officer in the US Army, and he just came home from a deployment. His legal background is a bit of the reason we are moving far, far, far away in coming months. The major part of that reason is God. See, we read this book a while back called Wild Goose Chase by Mark Batterson. Great book if you haven't read it. We read it as part of a small group Bible study that meets in our home. Well the book was just the spark that ignited a huge fire for following God and His will for us. Stephen had been trying to figure out God's will for our family and was contemplating the future in the Army... to stay or get out. He came across an example story in that book that described an organization called the International Justice Mission. He couldn't wait to read more about that. So the next morning he did, and in what seemed like a whirlwind, our whole lives changed.

IJM is an organization that fights crimes against humanity in developing countries. They do great work, and their attorneys are valuable to furthering God's kingdom. I know all that. Of course I do. But when I realized that meant ME moving to one of those "developing countries" I tried desparately to fight it. It took some big struggles for me - some real "wrestling" with God. And, admittedly, I wrestled with some friends and family over the matter, too. But ultimately God completely changed me. He will have to change those friends and family members in His time, but I know this is His call for me. Yes, for ME. Not just my husband. He has a plan for me in this, too. With total faith in His will and faith that this IS His will, I'm ready to go! My family is ready to follow Him.

So, where are we going? Well, we think we know, but that news is going to wait until it's "official." For now, I'm just gearing up for a great adventure... and trying out this blog stuff in the meantime!

Oh, and if you want, you can learn more about the International Justice Mission at