Thursday, July 28, 2011

A new friend

I knocked. She opened. I explained.

She nearly cried, as did I.

She knows Him.

She received devastating news yesterday that is rocking her faith. Her heart is breaking.

Pray with me for her.

She, too, has done random acts of faith that could only be explained by the nudge of the Holy Spirit. That was encouraging.

I prayed with her as her child watched through the window. She invited me to come back after I return from India.

I want to obey Him immediately from now on. I used to look at it as having something to lose, when really there is only joy to gain.

I need so much grace!

"Why do you call Me, 'Lord, Lord,' and do not do what I say? Everyone who comes to Me and hears My voice and acts on them, I will show you what he is like: he is like a man building a house who dug deep and laid a foundation on the rock, and when a flood occurred, the torrent burst against that house and could not shake it, because it had been well built. But the one who has heard and has not acted accordingly, is like a man who built a house on the ground without any foundation; and the torrent burst against it and immediately it collapsed, and the ruin of that house was great."

Luke 6:46-49

When much is given, much is required.

Oh, for grace to trust Him more!

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Disobedience and Sovereignty

Sovereignty has the last word.

First, a story: I paid a bill online today and was left with $6 in my account. Later, I went (shall I call it home?) and opened an envelope addressed to me with a check inside for $500.

I say this a lot, but I love knowing that there will be times in my life where I stop and say to my past, present, and future self, "Why would you ever doubt Him?!" Knowing that now feeds the fire of my trust in the One who will never, ever, ever, ever, ever go back on His promises to provide for us. Trusting when these things are unseen increases the delight I have in Him in the meantime regardless of what He might or might not be allowing me to see. And He's intentional and gracious about that too.

If a shepherd boy became a king, if the Messiah was born of a virgin, if grass pierces concrete -- SURELY nothing is too hard for Him; SURELY He is unstoppable.

Lately I have been calling Him the God of surprises. That...does things to me.

Terrified and full of joy.

An acquaintance of mine wrote recently, "It's possible to be afraid of what obedience might bring next and be full of thanks and overflowing joy and TRUST anyway. This giddy anticipation because we see all that He has done for us and we believe that He can only bring more good. Good, even in the ugly."

I want to tell you how I have been disobeying Him lately.

But really, I want to tell you how incredible He is.

Keep in mind that one of the things I keep asking for is grace to trust Him more.

Several months ago, while driving by a house on the way to my mother's, I was nudged by the Spirit to visit whoever might live there. I didn't. I have passed that house several times since then and His Spirit keeps persisting...and I keep resisting. Wanting but resisting, praising but disobeying, as a good friend of mine wrote recently.

My initial response to His nudge is to look around my car to see what I have to offer the people of the house. Somehow I think that that would make it less weird for the person on the other side of that door. I'm probably dead wrong. Can you picture it? "My name's Brittany...I'm older than I's a crumbled cookie...and a scarf from India...mind if I come inside?"

If we are out of our mind, it is for God, right?

I think of this and consider one of the things that His mind has been tumbling around in my head for the past few months:

Jesus isn't just the best thing I have to offer anyone. He's the only thing.

Christ, Christ, Christ. Nothing but Christ. He's good enough to stand alone. "Good" is so much of an understatement that it almost seems like a misrepresentation.

I just wonder. I just wonder what He will do next. And I wonder if wondering is idling. And He hushes my mind. But I wonder still.

Do I believe He's enough or not? Do I believe I can walk up to someone empty-handed and know that I am offering them the greatest thing that has ever existed? I think I believe that. There is nothing to lose; only joy to gain. I think I believe that too. And while I am now eager and resolute to knock on that door and speak things that will probably not come until the moment I open my mouth, I wonder why I waited to decide to follow Him there until it made more sense to me. Disobedience is nauseating at best. Sometimes I think when instead it is best to just follow...and thinking (questioning His leading, making excuses, etc.) always complicates things. I want to be one who follows His every nudge. I want a trust that neither questions nor delays. I want the only explanation for the things that happen in my life to be divine intervention.

But really, I want to know Him. There is so much yet to know of Him! Unchartered waters of trust flow into unchartered waters of intimacy with Him. Intimacy is ministry. I've lived that. It just spills over.

In the past month, different people have said a variation of a phrase that always resounds within me. I've heard, "Do it!", "Go for it!", and "Just go for it with Jesus!"

Just going for it...I intend to. I'll let you know who is on the other side of that door, and what He allows me to know of Him in the process.

He is such a Lion.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

To Know Him

Come, let us return to the Lord. For He has torn us, but He will heal us; He has wounded us, but He will bandage us. He will revive us after two days; He will raise us up on the the third day, that we might live before Him.

So let us know, let us press on to know the Lord. His going forth is as certain as the dawn; and He will come to us like the rain, like the spring rain watering the earth.

Hosea 6:1-3

Friday, July 15, 2011

Intentionally Untitled

It's almost 2 in the morning and I am...inspired. I'm soothed by the peace of Christ as I recline against Him in this chair in a dimly lit kitchen. Thoughts are floating in and out of my mind and I desire to write them.

For starters, I just realized that the Irish flag looks like an Italian flag that has been sitting out in the sun for a few months. I also observed that the southernmost part of India is still in the Northern Hemisphere, so I'm wondering if I'll ever make it to the other side of the equator. It really is just a wondering -- a curiosity that is content to be anywhere in the world as long as I am in Him. But I must admit that I daily crave to be on the Arabian Peninsula. Daily. And the fact that the flight to India I just booked includes a stop in Bahrain excites me to the core. And I think I realized why some people consider some countries to be "closed," even though I don't believe in such a thing with His power. A visa to get into Bahrain allows a maximum stay of 28 days. Wouldn't it be cool to move to Jordan or Iraq or Lebanon and take somewhat frequent visits there? I daydream and scheme about ways to dwell in "those" lands and cultivate faithfulness. But His power is so much greater than my wildest imaginations! And I have some wild ones, courtesy of the Lion of the tribe of Judah.

Bah bah bah, bah Bahrain.

Anyway -- India. As I said, I booked a ticket there the other day. I originally thought it was going to be a one-way ticket, and was just as content either way. But it seemed good -- a phrase used to describe the decision-making of the disciples in the book of Acts -- to purchase a round trip ticket instead. I'm used to flying internationally with passengers I know, but this time it'll just be Jesus and me. There's something particularly sweet about that.

I mean it when I say that trust in Him is all I'm riding on right now. Three out of the six times I have traveled internationally, Spirit was specific in showing me the end from the beginning. I knew without a doubt that all the money was going to come in, that the planes would land, and that I would be well-taken-care-of.

I was trusting "that" and trusting "for." But this time, it's just trust. Period. Spirit hasn't shown me an "end" picture this time. He's just graced me with a lively faith that is so certain of His love for and faithfulness to me.

His victory is that I can't lose. He is GOING to provide for me regardless of where I am in this world. I am His precious! Even if I leave this country with nothing in "my" bank account, I am trusting that what I need will be there every time I go to an ATM. And if not, then He will do something even better than that!

Money does not provide for me.

Food is not the sustenance of my physical existence.

The extent of financial security is simple trust in His loving provision. He has unlimited resources. He is unstoppable and MIGHTY to save.

And please hear this, and consider it with your mind of Christ:

Faith is not a work.

I can't boast in it.

Faith is a gift. Trust is a choice. I think.

And when my faith wanes, He whispers to my soul,

There's grace for that.

There's grace for that...

In the recent seasons of my life, I have found that what keeps fueling my trust the most is a realization of His faithfulness. And when I want to delight in Him more, all I do is ask Him to show me how He delights in me. And when I want to love others, I ask Him to show me how He loves me. I used to think that was selfish. But it's just about knowing Him.

He died to know me. I don't understand that love. But I want to.

There will be ways that He provides for me and miracles that He does in and through me that I will be bursting to tell His Church. I speak from experience! But the greatest part about His provision and His power isn't the stories that will result -- it's knowing Him and experiencing Him personally through it all. HIM -- Jesus Christ. The One who is enthroned as we speak and is forever surrounded by those who impulsively repeat, "Holy! Holy! Holy!" as a natural response of beholding His goodness in its entirety.


For His sake, I want to know Him. He is so worthy. The best (only) thing anyone can do "for" Him is to know Him. I can't know Him for you just as I can't eat for you. He is just so much. He is the symphony and the conductor; the treasure and the chest; the ocean and the rain. He is the song that I sing and the air that I breathe and He loves me more than I could ever thank Him for while I remain an earth-dweller. But He's prepared another place for me.

And I'm GOING. I'm going to be with Him forever. Just as I am going to bed in a few minutes, I am going to heaven. Paradise. Gold. Pearls. Light. Unhindered and unceasing intimacy with my Precious.

I ache for that. And I am not alone. I don't understand why I sometimes refuse or resist that ache when it arises here...but He is persistent. And He is gracious. And His love drives out my fear because my sins have been punished so that I would not be.

He LOVES us.

Saturday, July 9, 2011


Rachel: "What do you want to do?"

Me: "I...don't know."

I wanted to sing and dance and laugh and play with that precious child.

Rachel: "Are you going to India? Spirit told me to ask you."

Me: "That's what I've been thinking about this entire time...but Merve's not in India."

Rachel: "How are you going to leave Turkey?"

Me: "In pieces."

I had no idea.

Straight from my journal. 30 June 2011. Thyatira:

Jesus. You are so beautiful.

When i see those who are suffering, i see You Yourself -- Living and active, bruised and carrying Your cross. You captivate and soften me.

i see You most in the least. i see You, Jesus. i see You.

You led me to desire and to ask to see Your Kingdom and Your beauty and Your love and Your glory. It is a dangerous and lovely thing to request. And then You hit me with it.

It happened in Thyatira. Her name is Merve.

She was so beautiful, Jesus. i saw You. i see You most in the least. i want to see You always. You are so beautiful. SO beautiful.

She was standing around. She was young -- maybe eight or nine -- but she stood out from everyone else.

Matted hair. Dirty hands. Shoes that were obviously too big for her. Her eyes could not have been more piercing. They were deeply inset and striking white against her ebony skin. i saw innocence behind the hardness. But the hardness was not hard for long. Your love wooed her open and seeped through the cracks.

It all began (sort of) when the air conditioner on the bus quit working. We waited outside the Thyatira ruins for it to be repaired. i saw her first outside the jackpot candy store. i had a white chocolate bar and turned around to buy three more because it was so good. i walked up to her and offered it. She didn't accept. i smiled. i wanted to be around her and i wanted her to know that. Your Love in me pursues. So i asked her her name.



She mingled around us and quickly realized that we don't speak much Turkish. We spoke as much as we knew how and smiled through it all. She seemed closed off. She told us more than we could understand. We smiled anyway.

Kristin bought her water. She accepted the chocolate on the second offer. A younger boy showed up and stayed around her. He may or may not have been her younger brother. He looked about five or six.

We sat on an umbrella table stump. Sitting was most of what happened. The boy kept pointing at my camera. i gestured an offer to take their picture. They nodded and loved it.

There was a word she kept repeating while she was with us. i didn't know it at the time, but she was saying, "Can I come with you? Can I come with you? Can I come with you?"


i strongly remember the moment when You nudged me to open my hand to her. She latched onto it and i prayed Your peace over her. She leaned her head against my shoulder. i was instantly in pieces and especially in love.

You amaze me. You wanted to hold her hand.

She walked over to be with the larger portion of my friends. i sat speechless on the umbrella's base. After a minute or so of stunned silence i joined them by the gate. When i walked up, my heart rejoiced. She was gettin' loved. Some were letting her use their camera. Others were extending their hands for her to hold. Arms were available for her to lean on. Laughter was prevalent.

The Body of Christ.

My heart swelled to watch her interact with those who gave her their loving attention. i genuinely wondered if she had ever been hugged before. She took the next two pictures.

She came back over to me and took a picture of us.

i saw love bring her out of the dark. The Life in me brought her out of the grave. Kindness awakened her to goodness. Her smile was so beautiful. i won't forget it even though the photographic evidence suggests otherwise. i saw Your Light.


My arms couldn't resist hugging her. You couldn't resist hugging her. My hands couldn't help but reach for hers. The light in my eyes couldn't be kept from shining Hope into her soul. You did these things. My hands and arms and eyes realized why they were created. i spilled open and Love fell in. Now let it be unstoppable.

You gave me a smile that poured love over her and beckoned her into Your arms. She kept grabbing onto my arm with both of her hands and leaning against me. It melted me every single time.

Josh came to tell us that the bus had arrived. i embraced her joyfully and hugged her as tightly as i could. i leaned close to her ear and whispered the only sentence i know in her language:

"Isa Mesih Sani Savior!"

"Jesus Christ loves you!"

Her lit up! i invited her to walk with us back to the bus. She grabbed my hand and i swung our arms back and forth as we walked. Again she leaned against me. Again my heart melted. Before i got on the bus, i got eye-level with her and held both of her hands in mine as i said, "Seni seviorum ve Isa Mesih Sani savior."

"I love you and Jesus Christ loves you."

We smiled and Turkish-kissed.

i got on the bus and watched her wave and smile from the street. She soon walked to the back of the bus and kept motioning for me to get off and stay with her. i had never been more thankful to not know the language of the country i was in. Even if i did, i would not have been able to tell her that i couldn't stay with her and she couldn't come with us.

After a few moments of her asking me to stay with her and me standing helplessly irresponsive, she walked up the stairs and pressed against the side of the bus, as if hiding. She looked so afraid and so almost-but-not-yet relieved. i looked at her longingly and lovingly and told her again that i love her. it took more trust than i had at that moment to believe that she would see love as more than something or Someone who comes and goes. Her name will never be "Abandoned." My hand remained in hers as the driver of our bus told her to get off.

She resisted -- much the way i resist when i'm about to jump off a cliff or a diving board. There is that start-stop movement that happens and an inner, rising tension that prevails and consumes. i saw this in her.

She kissed my hand and touched my fist to her forehead and then threw it behind her as she ran down the stairs of the bus. The door closed and as we pulled away i watched her weeping on the street by herself.

it wrecked me. Love wrecked me. And i knew that what had just happened was a before and after of sorts.

i remained standing on those steps for probably half an hour. i stood there missing her presence that once stood with me. Rachel came to stand by me and hold my hand. Nothing was spoken, but much was conveyed. We shared silence as we stared blankly out the window at the passing mountains. i thought of India. i wondered if it was worth it from her perspective to spend an hour with Americans who would love her so much only to leave her so quickly. i thought of Psalm 146. i thought of You, Who executes justice for the oppressed, Who gives food to the hungry, Who sets prisoners free, Who protects the strangers, Who supports the fatherless and the widow, Who thwarts the way of the wicked. The only option i had was to trust You to do what You promised.

Fear not at all. Where your hands cannot reach and your love cannot help, His hands can reach and His love can help. So why are you afraid? Miles of space and solid walls and locked doors are nothing to love. Nothing at all. -Amy Carmichael

i love You, Jesus. i love You.

i realized then that i wasn't called to accomplish anything. In those moments i realized that my lot was to look that child in the eyes and love her. And as i did, i saw You staring back at me.

i thought more of You.

The crucifixion happened because of Love, not hatred. It was an act of justice from heaven's view -- not injustice. It was a momentary act of wrath on the spotless Lamb to bring about an eternal act of mercy on those who once opposed You.

G R A C E .

Something is happening to me. YOU are happening to me. As You wish, let it be so.

i'm all Yours.

Things Considered

There are so many blogs I haven't posted because they were incomplete or I didn't like the flow of my own words. My mom told me a month or so ago that I am a perfectionist when it comes to writing. I hadn't considered that before, but I think she's right. The blogs that come to mind are usually incomplete, or there is a full body paragraph with no introduction or conclusion. Maybe my thoughts don't have a beginning or an end because neither does He? Who knows. :) And why is an introduction or a conclusion important anyway? I was confining myself a little bit in putting such a high expectation on my written words. It is for freedom He set us free, and i have things to say, so here i go, with no introduction and with a run-on sentence and two intentionally lower-cased "I"s.

Lately, I have been absolutely fascinated by and enamored with the promise that God is always going to provide for me. It is like I am realizing it for the first time. Wherever I am in the world, He is going to sustain me -- until He brings me Home, which sounds amazing right now. As I was reveling in this with my closest human friend, she said, "Yes! His victory is that you can't lose!"

It sheds light on freedom and joy for me. Here's an example:

In the recent past, whenever I would meet up with a friend for food, my meal would always be eaten in tension if who was paying for it was not previously discussed. I am very much a saver when it comes to money, and I like to think I have good reasons for doing so. But His grace trumps my good intentions, just as it trumped Eve's. His promises to provide for me cannot be hindered or undone.

So He refined my mind in this way: No matter whose wallet the money comes from, God is the one Who just put chicken in my belly. (I say chicken because of how much I enjoy it and how often I eat it.) It doesn't matter how expensive it was; He considered that and is fulfilling His promises to provide. Understanding that gives me the liberty to give freely without giving cheaply.

Most of the meals I have eaten recently have been eaten in awe and joyful thanks. My Father feeds me! Daily! With good things! That is all I see when I eat or drink anymore -- not dollar signs or empty pockets or good intentions. Awareness of His grace causes me to eat in tension no longer. I am resisting the urge to counter-balance everything I just said with a reminder to not be unwise with what He has given us. But grace, once realized, instructs. It is not limiting. And there's enough grace, I once heard, to waste.

Enjoy His faithfulness.