Wednesday, 26 July 2017

Stones.

Friends in Austin
I’m back in Bogotá, or what has been my home for the past 18 months. Bogotá. Which leads me to the question, “what is home?” Texas was hard for me in so many ways because it no longer feels like home. Sure, I like driving around Austin and gorging on all my favorite taco joints, and of course I love seeing all my friends and spending time with my church family. But I'm starting to understand why Paul says our citizenship is in heaven. If we truly belong to that world, then we shouldn’t get too comfortable here. Jesus, too, was constantly misunderstood and lonely in our culture so I guess I’m entering into good company.

Family at cousin's wedding in California
VULNERABILITY TIME: But more than a home, the deepest thing I desired in Texas was a bridge. Jesus knows, but I’m so tired and saddened at each new adventure without anyone with whom to share it. It's increasingly harder each time to cross over "back home" without a partner who understands my worlds. I'm so thankful that I never walk alone but I am also ready for someone here, who's constant. Pray for me to have big faith to ask for big things but also trust in my storyteller.

David and his parents
On my way back to Bogotá I had the amazing opportunity to stop in Guatemala for 2 days to visit the child I sponsor through Compassion International. I was tired of forgetting to pray for him and I thought if I met him that he would become more a part of my world. I also wanted some time to process with Jesus and I hadn’t done something that scared me in a while. So off I went, thankful that I now know enough Spanish to not get lost and miss a flight. 

Volcano in Guatemala
When we walked up to David’s house (he and his family live in Retalhuleu, about 4.5 hours from Guatemala City) I didn’t know what to expect. David was wearing the nicest clothes he owned (I could tell because he looked so uncomfortable in them!) and they had decorated the door with balloons and a “Bienvenida” (welcome) sign. They even set off little fireworks when I walked through the gate! (although I couldn’t see them so this scared me half to death). I spent the morning sweating away sitting in their little home and getting to know David more. For lunch we went to a chicken restaurant and continued to talk. David plays chess (and of course, soccer) and has won several competitions at the national level with kids much older than him. What stood out to me was his joy and excitement to talk with me, and his mother's thankfulness but also sadness at not being able to fully provide for her son. Please join me in praying for this family, especially for David's father, who struggles with alcohol and becomes very violent when he drinks. 


Between Guatemala to Colombia I had a layover in Costa Rica, where I got to explore and process things with Jesus. I stopped at this church in Alajuela, outside of San Jose and just sat and listened to my creator. 

I heard a song (at the end of this post) and realized that it was my life. I have meticulously set up stones to lead to the desires of my heart. I have treated my author as if he needed my help directing my life to the ending.  I’ve created idols of the good desires God has given me. I’m always either reminiscing about memories in the past or dreaming about desires to come. I’ve built up my life preparing for a future I’m waiting to start. Because of this, I can’t truly enjoy this season. I'm not content. I don’t see God for the powerful director he is and therefore I expect very little of him. I sold my previous life and left Texas, learned Spanish (mostly), and am now so focused on finding the solution to my brokenness - fulfilled desires of serving and loving street kids, and finding the perfect man to complement me in that ministry. Because of plan, I find myself lost and confused when the stones don’t add up. I don’t see his “no” as protection. I see them as failed attempts. 

Besties in Austin
SURPRISE! But God doesn’t need my help writing my story. He doesn't need the stones. I will only hurt myself and others when I try to bypass the wait. 

So here’s to the end! The end of worshipping my plans and asking God to “bless” them. The end of holding on to hopes for too long, expecting God to do things He’s never promised me. I trust you, Abba, that your ways are best and I’m tired of getting in the way with my own stones. I’m letting go to receive all that you HAVE promised: LOVE that is whole, PEACE I can’t understand, JOY in all moments, and POWER that fulfills your promises. 

I’m ready to be present in this season and think about what is true, honorable, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent and worthy of praise. Please pray with me that I can learn, what Paul calls, the SECRET of being content in all circumstances. (Philippians 4) 




Saturday, 8 April 2017

Spring Cleaning

Me with some of my 10th graders
Me with some of my 9th graders


Sorry I haven't written in a while. Here are a few things that have been happening this spring. 

1. High School youth retreat at El Camino Academy - I spent a weekend away with the high school students. It was great to spend more relational time with my kids and see God working in their lives.


Deborah and I at her wedding
2. Trip to Texas for my cousin's wedding - I went back to the States (for the first time since I've been in Bogotá) for Deborah and Zach's wedding. It was a short visit but such a blessing to see many of my friends and family as I stood by my cousin's side, celebrating, as she said "yes" to God's new season in her life. 

3. Rachel Jaster's visit to Bogotá - I brought back my best friend, Rachel, to Bogotá after the wedding. She gave up her Spring Break to visit my world and it was such an honor to introduce her to my students, friends, and be encouraged by her friendship and prayers.

Aladdin

Aladdin 
4. Aladdin play - I had the privilege of directing the famous "Spring play" at ECA this year. It was a huge undertaking, especially as a first-year teacher as I was also continuing to teach my Language Arts classes. But by the end of this 3-month process I was so proud of my students and the results they produced. These kids are so funny and creative and we're all so excited for next year's play!


Mission Team to Cumeral
5. Semana Santa Mission Trips - This week, during our Spring Break or Holy Week to prepare for Easter, ECA sent out 5 mission teams to different places around Colombia. These are all incredibly tough trips that are hot, dangerous, uncomfortable and sacrificial. I was planning on going on one of these trips, but after Aladdin, I was exhausted and in desperate need of recovery time before school starts again and we run towards the finish line of summer. So I decided not to go this year; it was a difficult decision but I was blessed with the gift of letting students and other teachers borrow things for their trips and I get to spend the week praying for all the teams, instead of being a part of just one trip. The rest of the school year seems like it will be a whirlwind. We have less than 2 more months of school then I will go to Vancouver and California to spend 2 weeks with my family and attend my cousin Kelly's wedding. Then I'll be spending the rest of the summer in Texas. 


Please pray for me in this season. God has been revealing to me that I have been uncomfortable with Jesus' death on the cross and the ways he shows me his unconditional love. Even after years of prayer, I am still the older brother in the story of the prodigal son. I am still trying to earn my keep and my place at his table. I am still uncomfortable with that fact that it's all free. I am still, at times, an orphaned. Please pray for me as I process this with Jesus. I want to be free from this bondage and enjoy his great love so that I can also receive his love from others.

Please also pray for my relationships with people here in Bogotá as it has been difficult. As missionaries we are often expected to have life "all together" but through living in community with other missionaries, we are realizing that this expectation creates very selfish, needy people. Please pray for my co-teachers and I, that we would love well and put each other's interests in front of our own. 



"Look, dear son, you have always stayed by me, and everything I have is yours." - Luke 15:31


"Make me truly happy by agreeing wholeheartedly with each other, loving one another, and working together with one mind and purpose. Don't be selfish; don't try to impress others. Be humble, thinking of others as better than yourselves. Don't look out only for your own interests, but also take an interest in others." - Philippians 2:2-4



Wednesday, 18 January 2017

¡Feliz Aniversario! Make a Way

My A-Team at the airport in Jan
     This time last year "Make a Way" by I Am They was my jam. (click here to watch video) I probably listened to it 10 times a day. I was a couple days away from uprooting my life to Bogotá, Colombia. Unlike most people who move overseas, I didn't have a plan B. I couldn't move back in with my parents if things didn't work out. I packed my 26 years into 3 suitcases and sold everything else I owned. It was so scary. I was days away from moving and still didn't have all my funding. I was living with my brother and sister-in-law in a different city than the others on my team, and I remember wondering if I was about to make the worst mistake of my life.


Team Bogotá 32 at Easter
     But jumping into the water to meet Jesus is never easy. And it's never worth it if it's not a risk. Looking back on the past year, it's been a rollercoaster. In January of 2016 I moved in with a family of 4 and 3 other single people. We moved to Bogotá with plans to start a church in our home and minister to college students at a local university. We studied Spanish. A lot. We played soccer. A lot. And we met a ton of people anywhere we went - public transportation, Uber, restaurants, and more. We were a sight to been seen. Over the course of the year, we saw the very best and the very worst of each other. Sharing lives with so many different souls is not easy.


My family in Bogotá in June
      Yet it was because of this experience that I learned that Jesus is truly my shepherd. My only job in this life it to humbly walk close to his side. I don't need to be concerned with where I am going because he knows the places, situations, and people who are best for me to grow, whether for a short season or for much longer. I learned that as long as I'm content walking with him, he will somehow use me and prepare my steps ahead of me. And even though 2016 did not go at all the way I expected, God has provided all that I need.

     A quote from my favorite cheesy, Christian, middle school movie says "when God throws a curve ball, don't duck; you just might miss something." This has certainly become true in my life. My life has been full of curveballs, but I wouldn't change it for the world. My lowest points have been balanced out by unbelievable adventures. And the funny thing is, I would never has experienced my Savior's constancy had it not been for all this change. He is faithful, y'all. Never be too afraid to jump the boat that you miss out on seeing his character.


Teacher trip to Peru in October
Machu Picchu and Llamas!
     In July I started a job teaching at an English-speaking, Christian school. My heart had desperately missed working with teenagers. I started as a part-time language arts and theater teacher. The day before I started at El Camino Academy, I remember being incredibly unsure. I thought, "this isn't why I came to Colombia. Am I bailing on my group by jumping ship to work at this school? What will my supporters think if I start doing something else?" Curve ball. But now I can't imagine my Colombian life without this job.


Disney day at school-10th grade
     In December I moved out of the house I had been living in since January 2016, and I moved in with another teacher from ECA. I love being closer to school and closer to the other teachers I work with. It's an unbelievable blessing to be a part of this community of Jesus followers.


New Year's with teacher friends
      So for all of you who have asked how long I will be living in Colombia, I have no idea. I don't need to know. I am first and foremost a citizen of heaven, so where I live and serve on this planet isn't relevant. As long as I am journeying close to my shepherd, the job, place, and people are a means to help me enjoy and glorify him and prepare myself for the next curve ball that comes my way.


You brought me to the desert so You could be my water
You brought me to the fire so You could be my shield
You brought me to the darkness so You could be my morning light
If You brought me this far, if You brought me this far

Wherever you lead me, I know you won’t leave me
Wherever you call me, You will make a way
Wherever we’re going, I will be holding
To the promise you have made
You will make a way


Monday, 7 March 2016

The Lord is My Shepherd

     …I have everything that I need. Recently the theme of sheep and shepherd has come up numerous times in my life. And ironically, the name “Rachel” means “Little lamb.” 

a picture I took of sheep from the UK
     I have been in Colombia for almost 2 months now, and I am truly learning what it means to be the sheep, fully reliant on my Shepherd. 

     Naturally, I'm a do-er; my love language is giving acts of service. I like to feel needed and do things for you to prove my affection. The problem is, with Jesus, He doesn't need me. It's the older brother in the story of the Prodigal Son. He was too busy slaving away for his father that he didn't get to enjoy the father's blessing of being close to him. 

 “His father said to him, ‘Look, dear son, you have always stayed by me, and everything I have is yours." -Luke 15:31

Karate Kid "Wax On, Wax, Off"
     I would much rather spend my time serving and doing things to prove to Jesus how much I love Him, but what He really wants is my heart and my time. It grieves Him when I don't recognize this. These last few weeks have been difficult because we are taking things slow, and 5/8 of us have been sick with bronchitis. We are building our home, building our team, learning the language and learning the culture. We are not at the ministry speed that we want to be. But God finds joy in that. We are spending our mornings in worship and prayer as we grow in our team relationships. We are spending time with our Shepherd, Father and Rescuer, getting to know Him more so that we can eventually bring others to Him. We are becoming bell sheep, allowing Him to use this time for His glory. 
     
     In the Karate Kid, Miyagi teaches Daniel to fight by leading him through a "wax on, wax off" car wash approach. While Daniel sees these lessons as a waste of time, he eventually realizes that his teacher has been preparing him for battle. That is what I see the Holy Spirit doing with our team. It takes time that may seem like a waste, but in the end it will send us right to the places we need to be. 

Here's a story that my awesome best friend Rachel Jaster encouraged me to look into. It's a story of a sheep that learned what it looked like to stay close to the shepherd.
A Story of a Bell Sheep

"After all, God seems to prefer guiding us in a way that keeps us close to Him, and His was is unhurried. He would prefer to guide me as my companion for the journey rather than hand me the directions that I'd be tempted to run off with, leaving Him in the dust. Maybe I could learn to ask less for God's guidance and more for a sense that He is being my guide, to ask less for help and more for the awareness that He is my helper, and to ask less for strength and more for the confidence that He is my stronghold." 
- An Unhurried Life by Alan Fadling

     Father, help us find contentment in being your bell sheep. There, you give us all that we need.

Sunday, 23 August 2015

the TRUTH will set you FREE


     At the end of the summer I had the amazing opportunity to visit Bogotá, Colombia with a friend, Stephany, who will be moving there with her husband and kids in November. As many of you know, this was my vision trip to help me prepare to move there in early 2016. Here's a little update about my experience and where I'll go from here!

     The trip was incredible. I loved the mountains, the graffiti (Bogotá is the most painted city in the world), and the people. One day we went to a local university to interview some college students. The college struggle is pretty much universal - everyone is desperate to discover their passions, their identity, and truth. The students we talked to were very confused about who Jesus is, why many Christians fail to act like this Jesus, and what all of it has to do with their lives. And it's a wonderful question. I'm excited to get to enter this mission field and discuss spiritual beliefs with those who are interested. Long-term, we plan to build relationships with students at a particular university (Universidad Nacional) because there is a profound darkness on this campus. There's a quad-like area on campus where students can share/preach their passions on any sort of topic (see, typical college experience, right?) and their peers gather around to listen/comment/argue. I'm so ready - not to just bring another Christian perspective, but to bring the light of Jesus. We also got to talk with several of Stephany's cousins who live there and it was very helpful to see where my generation is spiritually and the need they have for the truth of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. 


Steph & I on our bike tour
playing Tejo with our bike tour companions
    Another cool experience was taking a bike tour of the city. So scary. Like scarier than riding through the streets of Cambodia. Cars. Never. Stop. But it was so beautiful to see the city; I loved the graffiti. Amazing art and there were several areas that pay artists to paint. We also got to try different fruits I had never seen before. They use many of these fruits to make juices or smoothies as well. During the tour we got to play a Colombian game called "Tejo," where you basically hold a beer in one hand and throw a huge rock across the room in attempts to hit a pocket of gunpowder so it will explode. It's awesome. And I'm great at it.

     Like I mentioned before, our team's heart really is for the college students in Bogotá. 4 of the people on our team are singles in their early/mid twenties so it's an easy group for us to connect with. With the time we spent on campus talking to students and athletes and all the times we spent with Stephany's cousins, it is clear that this generation struggles with the concept of TRUTH. They are very distrustful of the local church and I can't blame them! 

Stephany's cousins
     We visited a mega church while we were there and it was very disheartening to listen to a message that took the story of Zacchaeus and twisted it into a plea for money. It's the prosperity Gospel forced upon people who are struggling, but hopeful for a better life. And when the church tells them that God will bless them only if they give like Zacchaeus, it becomes hard for anyone to trust the church. My generation in Bogotá has taken bits and pieces from different religions/lifestyles and created their own belief system that they think works for them. This is what has happened after years of the church failing to be the true body of Christ. But what a cool opportunity for us to build relationships with this group in order to eventually share the truth of Jesus and how He wants to give them purpose for today and hope for the future - all for free

Lady and her heart
     One last quick story: The day we went to look at potential houses, we ended up meeting a girl named Lady. Lady was walking through the market area trying to sell black trash bags to earn money. She began to tell Stephany that she was 20 years old and a new mom, and they both lived with Lady's mother. Well over the next couple of hours, we listened (well - Steph listened, I tried to listen in Spanish) as she poured out her whole story to us. As a child, her mother brought her to the streets to sell things and try to earn money. One day at just 9 years, she was kidnapped by Guerrillas (violent rebel groups) and was raped and forced to kill as a child soldier. After 5 years she was able to escape and bring 5 other kidnapped children with her. Since the escape she's attempted suicide, become addicted to drugs and she still has not told anyone her whole story until she met us. However, when her son was born she knew she had to stop the drugs and stop the stealing as a way out. Her hope and dependence are now solely on Jesus and it's incredible and inspiring. She is not a victim. She is a fighter and a leader. Even though she is uneducated and unable to obtain the kind of job she hopes for, she is taking advantage of the people God places in her path and is encouraging others to look to God! This is such an inspiration for me to see this girl continuing to fight to see how God is at work in her life. Jesus is such a powerful God and He remains on His throne - but how often do we miss out on opportunities to let Him work because we are so concerned about keeping ourselves on our own throne of comfort and security. I'm very thankful that we got to meet Lady and even more thankful that God is a big God who orchestrated the whole thing. I can't wait to see what He has planned for our group when we move there!

Prayer Requests:
    pray for health/asthma
  • Health - I have asthma so I struggled with the pollution and the altitude while I was there. I've talked with my doctor about how to take the proper precautions for living there, but please pray that I am able to find the right combinations of medicine to protect me from the intense sun (due to higher elevation) and to help me maintain healthy breathing habits. 
  • Team - There will be 6 adults and 2 toddlers on our team. I've only met the married couple, their kids, and the girl I'll be sharing a room with. At the end of September though, we will meet in Oklahoma for a church-planting training. Pray that I'm able to get off work (leaving school for a week or few days a month into the hectic school year is going to be difficult!) I'm very excited for and hopeful to be allowed to go and spend some quality time with the team! (the dates of the course are September 26 - October 2)
    new fruits during the tour
  • House - Our whole team will be living in the same house where we plan to eventually host house church. However, we don't have a house yet. There were 2 houses that we planned on looking at during our visit, but unfortunately our realtor sold the houses and didn't tell us! So we are praying for a large house with space for all of us and for bringing others into our home!
    Tinto Campesino - coffee
  • Leaving well - Although I'm very excited and ready to move, I know that God has called me here for the next 5-ish months. Pray that I will remain fully present and be a light to those around me. I have a huge ministry opportunity at my middle school - with kids, admin, and other teachers I work with. God's using me and this move to allow for some pretty awesome conversations at school, and I'm praying that I can continue to be a blessing to Bedichek Middle School through December. I'm also very involved in my church here in South Austin, especially with the growing youth group. I spent so much time with the youth this summer that it makes it SUPER difficult to think about leaving them. Pray that God will continue to grow and use them to build our small youth group.
  • Finances - Each of us on the team need to raise $2,000/month while we are living on support. I will be raising this amount for 18 months while I get adjusted to the culture, build relationships, improve my Spanish, and observe what God is doing in the city. After a year, I will begin looking for potential jobs and where my gifts/talents can be best used to glorify God. If you feel lead to donate, you can visit the non-profit website we're going through (Little Changes International - I went with this organization to Cambodia) and donate a one-time gift. Be sure to add my name in the "purpose" section. If you feel led to be a part of my support team on a monthly basis, please contact me via Facebook, email, or phone so I can direct you through the next steps. We are working on promotional materials to further explain our mission and I would love to talk to you more in depth if you have any questions about this gigantic life step for me! 
Donate with LCI - add my name in the "purpose" section


Beautiful view of Bogotá from Monserrrate

"The thief comes only to steal, kill, and destroy. I (Jesus) have come that they may have LIFE and have it to the full." -John 10:10


"I (Jesus) am the WAY, the TRUTH, and the LIFE. No one comes to the Father (God) except through me." 

- John 14:6

"Then you will know the TRUTH, and the TRUTH will set you FREE." - John 8:32

Wednesday, 17 June 2015

It's Happening

     So as many of you probably know, I've been ready to go back to the mission field ever since I got back from England 2 years ago. But since then, God has taken me on a very different path. He has taught me that there is more to life than being His servant. I am first and foremost His daughter. Through learning this, God has allowed me unhurried time to experience some things I would never have been a part of, had I left again right away. Over the past 2 years I've been able to help my parents prepare and move to Asia, I have moved to South Austin 

to work at a middle school and help grow the small youth group at my church, I have visited my parents in their new home, I have participated in my brother's wedding and gained a new sister, and I have been able to experience an "iron sharpening iron" relationship with many of my friends here. The last 2 years have been so much more difficult than I ever could have predicted, but God has been faithful in every way, reminding me that He is a good father. 


Teens at Point Community in Austin
     So since 2015 began, God's given me a peace about about looking for missions opportunities outside the US. Long-term my heart is definitely for street kids/at-risk teens in larger, Spanish-speaking cities. But after an exhausting search for organizations with this sort of ministry, I heard about some friends who were moving to Bogotá, Colombia, to start a church reaching out to young adults and university students. After praying about this opportunity, God reminded me of the ministry path of people like Joseph, David, and even Jesus. He showed me that I don't need to be hurried into youth ministry; His timing is not mine, and this opportunity in Colombia is a perfect transition for me into the Latin American culture and language. 


Austin Skyline with some students at a Graffiti Park
     Bogotá is a city with almost 7 million people and more than half of the population is under the age of 25. And I found out later that it has one of the highest population of street children of any Latin American city...interesting how God works! So while a few people on my team play to be there long-term, I will be taking my stay there on a year-by-year basis. I will be raising monthly support for 12 months while I adjust and observe the culture and language. Our primary focus is to watch what God is already doing in the city and pray for guidance on how we can meet Him in that. The first several months with be devoted to building relationships and getting to know people before we start meeting as the church. After a year, if I feel that God is calling me to stay in Bogotá, I will get a job (probably teaching) that will provide for finances and help me better fit in to the culture. I'm sure I will have TONS more information and insight once I take my summer vision trip to Bogotá in August.


Here are some things I would love you to pray for:
  1. My summer trip. There are 3 women going for 9 days and one of the women is my team leader who is actually from Bogotá, and has lots of family there. Pray that God would give me confirmation that this is His will for me to move in January. We will be doing a lot of prayer walking as well as talking to leaders and pastors on the ground to see what God is already doing in the city. Please pray for my health with asthma, as the altitude in Bogotá is higher than Colorado! The other girl on my team is from my church; being sent on mission and international travel is new to her. Pray for God to bless her obedience with clarity as she feels called to missions or ministry in some capacity. We will be in Colombia from August 2-11.
  2. My team. There are 6 adults and 2 kids on my team who will move to Bogotá and live  together in one large house starting in 2016. We will become the house church, just like Acts 2:42-47 talks about. Pray that we will bond together as we encourage each other to grow towards Christ. Pray for quick language learning and that we will be a strong light in our community as we follow the Spirit's leading. 
  3. My transition. Please pray for my transition out of Austin - that I will leave relationships with co-workers, family, friends, neighbors, and my local church in good standing. It's easy to forget this part because I'm already so ready to leave, but please pray that I take advantage of these opportunities to give God glory and love people well. 
  4. Finances. I will begin raising monthly support once I come back from my summer trip in August. Please be praying about if you are feeling called to be a monthly supporter. I will answer more questions about what that entails after I've returns and have more answers :) However, if you feel called to be a part of my summer trip or wish to give a one-time gift, I am raising support through Little Changes International. This is the same organization that I went through to go to Cambodia, and it's the organization that was started by the 2 team leaders I will have in Colombia...crazy! If you wish to give, here in the link to LCI's website. Click the "donate" button and write "Rachel Jeske" in the purpose line. 

     Please send me an email or comment on this blog if you have any questions. I can't promise I can answer them now, but hopefully after my vision trip I'll know more! I can't thank you enough for just reading this and being invested in my life and call to ministry. Thank you for whatever part you play or have played in my life to help me get to this point. God is gracious and good and I could not be more excited that He is given me this passion and now the opportunity to pursue it for His glory! 


Bogotá, Colombia
"All of us must die eventually. Our lives are like water spilled out on the ground, which cannot be gathered up again. But God does not just sweep life away; instead, he devises ways to bring us back when we have been separated from him."
-2 Samuel 14:14



Saturday, 8 November 2014

Lessons from Joseph

     I've been thinking a lot about Joseph from the Bible lately. Yeah, the "coat-of-many-colors" guy. And I feel like I can relate a lot to his story. God's given me dreams. Big dreams. And it's easy for me to look around at others and get prideful about the passions God has entrusted to me. Honestly it's a struggle. I'm not a people pleaser; I'm probably not going to do what most people want me to do. But I want you to at least respect me for being independent. If God's not going to write me a stable, white-picket-fence-American-Dream story, then I'm going to do something to make you remember me. To be known.

     Ever since I can remember I've compared myself to other people and their stories. I felt like I needed to be the best - most confident, most hardcore, most interesting, most hilarious, or most talented. I wanted to be the one with the best stories. I could care less about being the richest, smartest or most caring. I just wanted people to see me the way I hoped they would - I wanted to be the most interesting person in the room. And at times this is my identity. My attitude rises and falls with the way others perceive me. Because when I'm not the best at something, I'll desperately try to make up for it by showing off another area of my "impressive" life. And if there's no use, and I just can't win - I'll try to convince myself (and others) that being the best in that area is dumb anyway...like who would even want to be the smartest anyway? nerd alert. I'm glad I don't know all the elements on the periodic table, only an loser would care about that! ;)

     And I wonder if Joseph was a lot like this. Sometime we read his story in Genesis and write off his beginning as innocent immaturity. But I think he knew what he was doing, parading around his brothers with his fancy coat and fancy dreams - trying to ignore his fear of the prophesied dreams and hope lost. Maybe he was scared of not having the "special" life he was told he would have. This week as I re-read his story (Genesis 37-50) I decided to jot down a few notes and observations I found:

1. Joseph was given dreams and prophesy long before God actually fulfilled it - WHY? The word waiting is in the Bible 159 times. I know. I checked. Online. Answers.com. They're never wrong. ;) But the point still stands. If 2 Peter 1:5-7 is correct (which I believe it is!) "patient endurance" comes before godliness. I can tell God that I trust Him no matter what, but patient confidence in my Savior during the desert seasons is what proves my trust. Trust in action. This is where God begins to mature His child, Joseph. 

2. In the seasons of betrayal and suffering Joseph still learns to be content. He begins to gain a reputation as one whom God is close to, and people just want to be around him. Joseph is willing and ready to be used by God to bless those around him. He actually sees his enslavement as an opportunity to share the message of His God with a new culture and nation, one that doesn't know God. And God protects and blesses the socks off an entire people group and generation because of Joseph's obedience. Just imagine what would have happened had he chosen bitterness.

3. Joseph didn't give into his own desires or pity himself, even thought it could have totally been justified. He lived with integrity, continuing to seek eternal reward instead of just focusing on his present circumstances and what he wanted to do in the moment. He chose to live for something greater. 

4. He allows God to stretch and mature him, preparing his attitude to be ready when the perfect timing comes. Joseph also stays in close communication with God, a huge testimony to those around him. In situations of uncertainty or suffering we either tend to run to God or run away and ignore Him until the pain is lessened or gone, if we do even choose to return. Joseph shows us what it looks like to run to God and share our silence with Him. Joseph is teachable and learns from his arrogance to become humble - another way to point others to God. 

5. He is faithful with little and God blesses him with much. Joseph is so thankful to God, even though he misses out on things that we often see as "rights," like seeing his mother before she died, watching his younger brother grow up, and being a part of his family and culture. If I was Joseph, my story would have consisted of mostly "it's not fair" moments and comparing my situation to the brothers who sold me into slavery - those who got to enjoy their father's company in a comfortable land with an easy life. Joseph's attitude is remarkable and so inspiring to me. 

     So the question is not "what will God have me do" but rather "what is my reaction now?" Will I choose to be content in luxury surrounded by my loved ones? And will I choose to be content in slavery and prison? And will I choose to be content when things aren't fair, trusting that God is mega at work behind the scenes? This song below is called "Unpack Your Heart" by Phillip Phillips, and it's been so encouraging to be reminded that God wants to share it all with me - the sorrow, the victories, the struggles, the treasures, and the the dreams I'm scared to defend. 



"Not that I was ever in need, for I have learned how to be content with whatever I have. I know how to live on almost nothing or with everything. I have learned the secret of living in every situation, whether it is with a full stomach or empty, with plenty or little. For I can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength."
-Philippians 4:11-13

It's a secret to be learned with the supernatural help of my Author. Even if my dreams never come to fruition, my job is to be faithful with what the Lord has placed in front of me. Then He will able to take my submission and unfold it into something beautiful.