a penny for your thoughts

This is going to sound really weird and I’m not really sure how it happens, but somehow when I have too much time on my hands, I can’t seem to get anything done. When I am busy I have lists and am super thorough with my schedule and my planner is never far away. Being busy and having deadlines makes me super productive, but these lazy days where almost every minute of my time is my own has made me…yes, lazy. I’m ready for some structure again. I’ve been thinking about the different seasons that God has brought me through lately. The past month or so has been super low key and very restful. I suppose he knows exactly what we need when we need it.

Other things I have been thinking about lately…

Real life. This is my real life. Yes, it does seem painfully obvious, but it wasn’t for me until a few weeks ago. I’ve lived the majority of the last five years with a very temporary mindset. Everything has been temporary and was kind of a step or something for the final goal…of, what?? Well I’m not really even sure myself, but some mystery career, family, life…But this is it folks, this is my real life and I want to really live it. I’m excited about the possibilities that each day hold.

I’m here not there. Again, pretty obvious. I’m in Boone and not in Liberia. And, well, it’s been a pretty sad reality for me lately. I want to be there! But God has me here for a purpose, just as he put me in Liberia for a reason, even if it was short, and I want to live with that fact in mind. I found out in December of last year that I would be going to Liberia this summer and I had lots of time to prepare and get excited for that new adventure. As I have said before, I’m confident that this is where God has me for now, but it’s still hard to be here and not there. I miss everyone a lot and wish I had gotten to be a part of the team for longer.

This kind of goes along with the two paragraphs above…I’ve been reading Running Scared: Fear, Worry and the God of Rest, by Ed Welch. He makes the point that worriers live in the future. He writes, “Fears and worries live in the future, trying to assure a good outcome in a potentially hard situation. The last ting they want to do is trust anyone, God included. To thwart this tendency toward independence, god only gives us what we need when we need it. The emerging idea is that he wants us to trust him in the future rather than our self-protective plans.”

Ch-ch-changes! Katherini is heading out to New Zealand in a month! Woohoo. I’m so excited for her and I know she’s going to be the best little backpacker they’ve ever seen. But, it means that she won’t be a mile away from my house anymore. No more late night chocolate chip cookie escapades, Earthfare office sessions in our favorite booth, walks around Boone, disastrous greenway runs, or nerdy reading times. Have fun and I hope you meet a really cool shepherd! I’m going to miss you, Friend! Update: I will also really miss riding around with Kathryn. Believe me there’s never a dull moment…like when she hit a man in the Wal-Mart parking lot.

Serving. Sarah has really challenged me to serve others very intentionally. Coming home sick and puny in July, others served me and I was blessed by their acts of service and prayer and love. I want to cultivate a heart for hospitality and be able to love people in that way. I know several people who have the gift of hospitality and have mastered the art of loving and making others feel comfortable. By hospitality I do not necessarily mean creating the perfect menu, having the chicest decor or having the cleanest house. Those things are good and can serve to create a warm and welcoming environment for people, but I mean learning how to be hospitable when you aren’t even at your own home. You know the people who just create warmth wherever they go by loving people like Jesus does? That’s what I want. And when I have my own home I want to open and create a space where people are welcome, but I don’t want it to ultimately be about having the perfect clean house, I want it to about people.

xJemma

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Summer Lessons

“All your circumstances are ordered in wisdom by a living, thoughtful, and loving God. Our heavenly Father knows what He is doing. Even when His way appears to be involved and complicated and we cannot untangle the threads, the Lord sees all things clearly. His breadth exceeds the range of our vision; His depth baffles our profoundest thought.” – CH Spurgeon

This summer was incredible. I learned so much and had so many crazy adventures. God was very good to me. I am thankful for each experience, each lesson learned and each new friend that I made. I think about all of the ways that God protected me this summer and am so overwhelmed by his kindness. First of all, as many of you will remember, I had quite the detour on my way to Liberia and had stops in Atlanta, Pittsburgh, Paris, Lille, Brussels and Lier before making it to my new home in Liberia. My whirlwind European tour had its share of adventure and unnerving moments, but I made it to Monrovia and found new friends waiting for me there. Again, God was so kind in giving me just what I needed for each task that he had for me. Surprisingly, I didn’t have much jet lag and was able to jump into my new routine and life in Liberia quickly. My month in Africa was unforgettable and I am so thankful for the time that I had.

I am still processing so much of what I experienced while I was there. Getting sick was definitely not in my ideal plan for my internship, but I am confident that “his breadth exceeds the range of my vision,” for sure and that nothing will thwart his plan an purpose. I appreciate all the prayers and sweet notes that so many of you sent me. There were some scary moments throughout this ordeal, but God really met me in each one of my fears and provided comfort through all of you! After much prayer, thought and discussion I have decided that it is wisest for me to stay in the states at this point. I am still much weaker than I had anticipated being by this time and it’s unclear how long it will actually take for me to feel 100% better. My immune system is down and I’ve been catching all of the little colds that are going around and I really don’t want to go back and then just have to have someone babysit me all the time. Anyway, God has really made it clear to me that he is closing this door for now and that this season is ending. I struggled for a long time with this as I had planned on going back around August 16 and when I left Liberia had no indication or thought that I wouldn’t return very soon. I left many of my personal things there and I felt like I had left a piece of my heart. I’m still so sad about not returning to finish the work that I was so excited about being a part of and not getting to go back to see my friends, but God has given me a lot of peace about this decision and I am ready to trust him for the next step.