rest.

“Rest at essence is God-entranced, God-magnifying, and God-satisfied.  Rest is a bold declaration of the over-sufficiency of the goodness and grace of God.  It is treating God’s promises as rock-solid and unquestionable.  Rest is a conscious relishing of God’s gushing generosity and a relinquishment of our own self-sufficiency.

In short, rest is the only human response to God’s engagement that honors and satisfies Him.  All else is both deplorable and unacceptable.

Rest is the garden, the Sabbath, the feasts, the land, the worship of God’s people in the Old Testament.  Rest is the promise of the Gospel and the only path to life.  ‘Come unto me all you who labor and are heavy-laden,’ says the Savior, ‘And I will give you rest.  Take my yoke upon you and learn of me, for my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”

Paul in the apostle sums up the Gospel simply, ‘Rest your hope fully upon the grace that is brought to you in revelation of Jesus Christ.’

There were two lost sons in the story of the Prodigals, one who offered to work his way back into his Father’s favor, and one who reminded the Father of the favor he deserved for the work he had already done.  Both offered work as a payment for the gift of the Father’s fellowship, forgiveness and feast.  And to both He said, ‘No.’

‘Come in!’ was the only offer of the Father. ‘Cease from your work and celebrate my lavish extravagance and prodigal generosity and you will have Me and everything that is mine.’

Everything good starts with rest, grows through rest, and is sweetly tasted in the feast of rest.  And then comes Heaven.” Don Shorey

beauty

Beauty was created by God for a purpose: to give us the experience of wonder. And wonder, in turn, is intended to lead us to the ultimate human expression and privilege: worship. Beauty is both a gift and a map. It is a gift to be enjoyed and a map to be followed back to the source of beauty with praise and thanksgiving. – Eyes Wide Open: Enjoying God in Everything, Steve DeWitt

rejoice

he who would glorify his god must set his account upon meeting with many trials. no man can be illustrious before the lord unless his conflicts be many. if then, yours be a much-tried path, rejoice in it, because you will the better show forth the all-sufficient grace of god. as for his failing you, never dream of it – hate the thought. the god who has been sufficient until now should be trusted to the end.

– charles spurgeon

foya

i’m back in liberia! i arrived on wednesday evening without complications or delays, thank you Jesus! it’s been pretty much non-stop since i got here — i had one day in the office and then on friday, joni and i packed up and made the long journey to foya. i’ve been up here meeting annie, our new CLP (church livelihood program) program manager and preparing for our TOT – Training of Trainers meetings next week. i’m super excited about my time here. i get to be a part of a really exciting transition of expat staff running CLP to it being managed by a National, Annie. very cool. so basically my role is to be here as a resource for annie and help train her and teach her and just be here to help make that transition go as smoothly as possible. all 22 of our staff will be at the training this week, which will give me a great opportunity to meet all of them at once and we are starting a new curriculum this year, so we’ll all kind of be on the same page. ooh in case you were wondering, CLP runs adult literacy classes through a local church in a community and then has business classes and a business model for these women…it’s a cool program and i’m sure i’ll write more about it later. i’m feeling super scattered today though.

foya is great. i didn’t make it up here last summer. i didn’t think the internet was going to be fast enough to do much of anything, but i’ve been pleasantly surprised and have been able to get on my email. i think i’ll be spending a good chunk of my time up here. i can’t wait to learn how to drive the motorbikes. i’m a little nervous, but oooh it looks like great fun! every time i go somewhere with eleanor, she asks me if i want to drive…i’m a little nervous about that too. we have those huge toyota landcruisers and i’m just not sure my skills are up to par yet…i mean there’s the whole issue of me barely knowing how to drive stick shift and then there’s just the chaos that is the road in liberia. but in time i’m sure i’ll get the hang of it.

today joni, alisa, eleanor, justin and i went to pak batt for lunch. ooooooooh it was absolutely delicious! mmmmm. pak batt is the UN pakistani base. Capt. Aziz is soooo nice. and seriously, the food is to die for. oh. and he had fresh fruit. yes. beautiful, plump, juicy grapes and apples. it was lovely. i can’t wait to go back. in fact, i’m going back tomorrow for dinner. oh yeah and then they served us chai tea on real china. it was amazing. oh and they have air conditioning. i stuffed myself. we all waddled out to the car when we were done.

later.

jj

living, learning, loving

Not knowing is something that I am not very good at. I like to know the plan – I’m not super uptight or anything, if the plan is to have a free day and be spontaneous, GREAT! Sounds like fun, but I need to know that. Focus, effective, productive, etc are some of my favorite words. I struggle to be focused, effective and productive without a plan though. I love organization – in my spaces and in my life.

Part of feeling organized, for me at least, is to know the long term plan. But who really knows what the rest of their life is going to look like? No one, really. I don’t and that’s ok, I just need to figure out the next step. I was so blessed by a lunch that I had with a friend this week. She reminded me that I don’t need to know what the plan for the rest of my life is going to look like, besides I can’t know that and to try to figure it out will only lead to confusion and frustration! I just need to do the next step and trust. I worry so much about making the wrong move and having that mess up the next thing…silly, silly me! How arrogant for me to think that I can mess up my Sovereign God’s plan. Another great reminder was that God’s plan and will for my life is to be molded and conformed to the likeness of Christ. That’s it, that’s what he has said in his word. It’s not some secret mystery! He has told us, yes, the how might look very different in my life from yours, but I know the what!

Questions: What are my spiritual gifts? What is my personality type? What do I see as the greatest need in the world? The place where these things come together is where I want to serve. Aren’t these great questions? My friend really encouraged me just by asking really good questions. I have lots to think about now.

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.

Pakawelleh – My First Experience in the Liberian Bush Pt 1

On Monday morning I flew out to Pakawelleh, a small village, with Joni and Nikelle to do VBS follow ups with the kids who had participated in VBS two weeks ago. My first chopper ride was pretty sweet! They let me ride up front since it was my first time. It was so cool! I thoroughly enjoyed the ride and am looking forward to going back out on Monday. Anyway, we arrived in the village on Monday and met up with our VBS team — Matilda, Annie and Alice. They are so funny! We took a tour of Pakawelleh and met the Chief and the Commissioner. Monday was pretty low key. Monday night there was a community meeting to announce the follow up. We were formally introduced to the community and they even had us stand up and let everyone come through a meet and greet line. Haha, it was kind of funny! Once it gets dark, there’s not much to do out in the bush. There isn’t any electricity or running water, so we took our bucket baths before the sun went down and then headed to bed after the meeting. Everyone is up bright and early with sun, so I guess it’s a good thing that we went to bed so early!

boy from pakawelleh

Tuesday the VBS follow up got under way. We started around 8:30am and Matilda quickly reviewed all of the lessons (we have about 20 different posters that basically go through the entire Bible) and they  recited their memory verses and we sang lots of songs. Around 12 we fed the kids lunch and then took a break and ate our lunch and rested and then headed back to the church for the afternoon session.

Day 1 of VBS Follow Up

The kids were so cute when they sang and recited their memory verses! I now have Jeremiah 29:13 and Romans 3:23 and John 3:16 permanently ingrained in my memory. I loved hearing their little voices scream out those verses. One of the songs they learned was “God is So Big.” It goes like this “My God is so big//so strong and so mighty//there’s nothing my God cannot do//For YOU!//The Mountains are his!//The Rivers are His!//The stars are his handiwork too!” But they had the lyrics wrong, so they kept singing, “My God is so big//so strong and so might//there’s nothing my God cannot do//For YOU!//The mountains are hills//the rivers are hills//the stars are spinning for you!” It was so funny!

me and the girls 🙂

These two little girls were absolutely precious. They sat with me both days and the older one gave me about a dozen bracelets as a gift. They were so cute and I loved every moment with them!

I think most of you know that I am not a huge fan of being in front of a crowd…even if they are mostly children. I just don’t like it. I get nervous and feel uncomfortable and oh so awkward. So you can imagine my response when I was asked, or more like told, by the VBS team that they wanted to put me in charge of praise and worship. I laughed at first and then I realized they were dead serious. That’s when I started to panic. I told them I couldn’t sing and I thought they dropped it. That is until the afternoon session when they asked me to come up and sing a song. Alone. yes, as in a SOLO. I literally couldn’t think of any VBS songs…I kept hearing Kathryn Hodges singing “Frere Jacques” and Sarah and I muddling our way through “Before the Throne.” That was it. No songs. Except for a few completely random songs that wouldn’t have been appropriate for VBS. So I ended up singing “Jesus Loves Me.” It actually went ok, praise the Lord. A couple of the women even asked me for singing lessons after. Haha, but really I think what I learned is that sometimes in order to serve and love well you have just get over yourself. They were blessed and felt loved by my standing up there singing a song.

I’ll post more about the OCC distribution and hiking out tomorrow. We had quite the jungle experience…but for now I’m going to get some rest and find some dinner. I actually got sick yeesterday right before we had to hike out. I’ve had a fever, nausea and lots of aches and pains since…not fun. So if you think about it you can pray that I’ll be healthy and ready to go back out next week! Thanks!

xoxo,

JJ

 

under the weather

I woke up feeling great and had breakfast and was enjoying a great book (on my Kindle–which I love. Joni is getting one soon too!) when all of a sudden I started feeling really lousy and pretty nauseated. Something is going around…I think it’s one of those 24 hour bugs or something. Should be good as new soon, but today has been blah. I’ve just been lazy and tried to rest and Nikelle and I are watching movies tonight. If I’m feeling better I’ll go to church for the first  time in Liberia tomorrow!

Despite being sick, it’s been a pretty good day. I’ve gotten a lot of reading done and a good amount of writing and processing. Laughing is also always good medicine and we’ve done some of that today 🙂

xoxo,

J

I’m a smooooth mamalaterrrr

Hi, Friends!!!! Today is my second full day here in Liberia. I went into the office for a little while this morning for devotions and to work out some finance stuff. After that Bev, the boys (Isaac and Felix), Joni, Nikelle and I headed into town for CLP supplies, groceries and lunch. We bought lots of supplies and then headed to Diana’s for lunch. I had chicken shwarma and a huge plate of french fries. It was delicious! After that we headed to the Stop and Shop for groceries. Okay, it was hilarious, the song “Smooth Operator” was playing on repeat the whole time. But the boys thought it was “Smooth mamalaterrrrrr!” It was so cute and hysterical!

After we got back from our trip into town Nikelle and I met with Bev and Aaron and went over some safety and security stuff. Then we headed back to the house to change for our staff 5k Friday run. We’re preparing for a 10k race in August to raise money for SP Liberia — more on that later!

The past two days in Liberia have been great. I’m settled into my room here at the staff house and am getting to know the girls and the other staff. I’ll keep you all posted!

xoxo,

jj