Thursday, November 07, 2013

Brutally Honest

I didn't really want to share this.  Tried to hide behind the facade that "everything is ok" by just not posting things to Facebook, or responding to close friends (sorry Alisha).  I simply shared with two people asking for prayer and left it at that.  I didn't want all the follow-up questions or for anyone to question the work God is doing here...because He IS moving!  I just couldn't put into words exactly what was going on within me.

It started on Tuesday when I simply became frustrated with the culture and lack of being able to understand others and have them understand me.  And for my roommates and I, it was a McDonald's kind of night.  I know I mention this a lot, but I have a disclaimer - I never really ate at McDonald's all that much in the states!  I tried to keep to a healthy diet and exercise.  But here...all bets are off and when you need something that reminds you of home, you get it....even if it's McDonald's. 

So there I was standing in line rehearsing how to say what I wanted.  Nuggets were out for the night because I simply did not have the energy to ask for a cardapio (menu) or to figure out the name of the sauce I would want.  So I went with a quarterĂ£o (quarter pounder).  Bravely I stepped forward to the counter, said my order and the lady didn't understand me, even though I believe I was saying it correctly.  Tears began to well in my eyes as I had to turn around and ask for help.  Again!  And by-the-way....who cries in a McDonald's line????  Apparently this girl!  (rolling my eyes at myself!)

Then we made a stop at the ATM so I could withdraw money and I forgot that it was all in Portuguese and again became so frustrated I almost walked away without any money.  I was done!  If I could have, I would have packed up everything and flown back to the states.  I had hit the point where every defense, every ounce of control, traces of pride and independence and anything left that I try to hide behind was stripped away and I was laid bare before Him. 

I have spent the last two evenings in prayer and with a tear-soaked pillow.  Seriously though...what is with all these tears this year?!  I was never like this before!  I am so thankful though that God sees these tears, hears the desperate prayers and even those prayers that I can't even put into words.  He knows it all.  He knows that I'm struggling with all of this.  And He is faithful in it all.

 
And He places it upon people who have no idea what I am walking through, to drop "tastes of home" on my desk - TWO different people!  He also placed it upon another person to write a note of encouragement and to say they were praying for me...someone whom I haven't seen in years!  These people listened to that still small voice within, and obeyed...even though it may not have made sense to them as to why they felt that nudge.  They just obeyed it.  And I'm so grateful, because through those gestures He is reminding me that He hears my prayers, He sees my struggles and my pain, and He cares enough about it all to send those gifts of love through other people. 

When you get the sense that you should say something to a person, pray for someone, send a note, give a gift, drop a quick email...do it.  You never know what they may be going through and that may be a way that God is using you to bless someone else.  And I guarantee, in the process, He will bless you too!  My friend, Ali, shared something similar to this when she wrote about following His leading to pray for a complete stranger (click on her name to read about her story).  So the next time you feel that instinct....go with it and see what happens.  I'm so thankful for the people who did that these last few days....it was an encouragement to me in this time of refining.
And if you think of it....prayers are always welcomed!  This is tough and I don't always want to paint the picture that life out here is this grand adventure....because it has it's difficult moments.  This week is one of the hardest I've hit since I arrived and I know it won't be the last.  I cherish your prayers more than you know!  There's my unedited honesty of life in the moment. 

Saturday, November 02, 2013

Constant Change is the New Normal

Change stinks!

I've never been one to embrace constant change.  I like to find my rhythm in life and keep on with it.  No drastic changes - just an even keel pace.

But that can be problematic.  After a while, it becomes easy to remain in that rhythm with all its familiarities and I can find myself relying upon me.  There isn't anything that challenges me to think outside the box or accept help from others.  My rhythm is simply that - mine.  No need for others...and sadly, no need for God.

However, this rhythm I am on here in Brazil is unlike anything else I've experienced.  It is a constant change creating a "new normal" in my life.  One day the rhythm is as quiet as the gently lapping ocean waves upon the sand.  The next day the rhythm is more of a "perfect storm" raging about.  Each morning I have no idea what I am waking up to.  And even if the morning starts out quiet and peaceful, things could drastically change the moment work begins.

Please don't think I'm talking about the storms as bad experiences.  That's not what I mean.  The storms are more about things that shake me out of my comfort zone and challenge me to new perspectives.  It's more about opening myself up to things God places before me and allowing myself to be changed and formed into something new by my Creator.  The old has to be refined into something new so that I can shine for His Glory.

In the midst of all of this constant change, I am learning that one thing never changes - my God.  He is constant, reliable.  As I look to Him and cling to Him in all the different rhythm's of life, my faith and trust in Him goes deeper and I am beginning to embrace this constant change and create a "new normal" way of living.  A life of unexpected twists and turns in every moment and a life of faith and trust in God alone.