May our Heavenly Father draw each of you to Himself as you meditate on the beauty and wonder of the Lord of the universe taking on flesh to live among us on this earth. Our Savior Jesus Christ lived a perfect life and died a perfect death in the place of sinners. He took God’s wrath for us and bore the punishment we deserved. But He didn’t stay dead! He victoriously rose from the grave and is seated at the right hand of the Father, interceding for His beloved bride, the Church. Hallelujah for our Great High Priest (Hebrews 4:14-16)! And He will come again (John 14:1-3)! Let’s joyfully celebrate Christ’s first advent as we look forward with great anticipation to His second advent!
"In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was in the beginning with God. 3 All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made. 4 In him was life, and the life was the light of men. 5 The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it....14 And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth." John 1: 1-5 and 14
Petitions and Praises:
- Peace and clarity of mind as I finish up final preparations.
- Diligence to seek God’s face in prayer.
- Ability to cherish every moment with loved ones these last few weeks.
- Comfort and strength for loved ones I’m leaving behind.
- Travel logistics and safety as well as humor and patience with last minute changes.
- Humility and vulnerability as I prepare to live in a small community of believers.
- Quiet moments to reflect on Christ’s first advent and study scripture.
- God’s abundant financial provision!
- Sweet time with family and friends.
- Generosity of many loved ones in helping me move.
**Read on below for more details!**
“That I may know Him…”
This has been a season of sacrifice.
During our missionary training in Florida, we were told that the ‘leaving’ phase usually lasts about 6 months. I laughed because I only found out I was going to Papua New Guinea about 8 months before my departure date. So I guess that means I’ve been in the ‘leaving’ phase pretty much since I decided to go!
When I first found out about the need for a science teacher at Ramu Valley Academy, I was reading through a Lent devotional that was written as a sort of travel log of Jesus’ final journey to Jerusalem. On the way, He had several interactions with people who expressed interest in following Him (Luke 9:57-62).
Jesus, in His divinity, knew the hearts of those who desired to follow Him. He knew they would have a hard time giving up home, family, work, and belongings. So He answered them in ways they didn’t expect: The Son of Man has nowhere to lay His head; leave the dead to bury their own dead; and no one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for the kingdom of God. He didn’t sugarcoat it. Following the Lamb of God may look glamorous, but it’s difficult and full of sacrifice.
I remember reading Kelley’s note that morning and then looking around my cozy bedroom in my beloved country cottage and thinking, “Would I give all this up for Jesus?” Each devotional reading that week provided yet another example of both the difficulty and the blessing of sacrificially following Christ. I slowly came to realize that I could indeed sacrifice my home, job, car, pets, loved ones, friends…yet only with HIS strength, and for HIS glory!!
Now I’m thick into the season of leaving…I haven’t seen Rico the parrot for over a month, the longest separation I’ve had from her in 11 years. I left a job and coworkers I loved, I miss my beloved VA church family, someone else lives in ‘my’ house now, my stuff is in storage, I’m hopping back and forth between my parents’ house and my sister’s house, I’m trying to balance precious time with family and all the last minute details that need to be worked out, and I even had over 12 inches of my hair cut off!
This hurts. But every step of the way, God has showed me His faithful love, tender care, grace, and peace.
The Lord has been steadily peeling my idols away like the layers of an onion. But with each layer removed, He has lavishly provided beyond my expectations.
You know what has helped more than anything?? The realization that my gracious Savior Jesus Christ gave up WAY more than I ever will!!! He gave up a throne in Heaven and the worship of angels to come to this planet where He took on our flesh, our diseases, our hunger and pain…and selflessly endured separation from His Father as He became sin for ME (2 Corinthians 5:21) and died the death and paid the price that I should have paid! So now I have access to the throne of grace and I stand forgiven and wearing Christ’s perfect robe of righteousness, not by any work of my own (Hebrews 4:14-16, Ephesians 2:8-9).
So if Jesus could give up all of THAT, surely I can sacrifice on His behalf…His grace is sufficient for me, for His power is made perfect in weakness (2 Corinthians 12:9).
"7 But whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ. 8 Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For His sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ 9 and be found in Him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith— 10 that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection, and may share His sufferings, becoming like Him in His death, 11 that by any means possible I may attain the resurrection from the dead." Philippians 3:7-11
Here are just a few of the ways God has provided for me in this season of sacrifice:
- My sister offered to come help me pack the house and selflessly gave up a week to do so.
- God provided me with an all-star landlord who showed up to help in countless ways, from trucking away my trash and taking junk to the thrift store, to inviting my nephew for a romp around his farm while we packed. He even brought an old man back from the thrift store who needed double mattresses and helped us carry them out to the man’s truck.
- Both Benny the bunny and Rico the parrot are happily settled into their new homes. I miss them both dearly, but it does my heart so much good to see them loved and spoiled by their new humans.
- My dear church family and a kind neighbor came early one Saturday morning and had the truck packed in less than an hour!
- The same day, dear friends and family met us in Roanoke and unloaded the truck at the storage location in Christiansburg.
- I’m going to sell my dear Suby to a Ukrainian refugee family right before I leave. 🙂
- My TN church family is hosting a farewell gathering for me two days before my departure.
- By God’s great provision, I am now at 83.4% of my recommended monthly financial support!!
Soaking up seasons and moments of solitude…
One of the biggest challenges I’ve been facing lately is the mental, emotional and spiritual preparation for living in a fenced-in mission center and losing my independence as a single woman. I’ve lived in remote little houses in the country by myself for the last 12 years, and I’ve traveled and adventured alone for the past 20 years. I’ve developed quite the felt need for solitude and the ability to disappear into the woods and fields as a way to decompress and commune with my Savior.
The Lord has been teaching me lately that this is an area where I have been storing up my treasures on earth instead of in heaven. Of course there’s nothing wrong with being able to hop in the car and disappear into the backcountry whenever I feel like it…but that is not a true physical need, and what is more important: satisfying my fierce independence or serving Christ in a community by coming alongside students and coworkers in His kingdom? Besides, I will be living in an absolutely gorgeous tropical location with CRAZY birds, so I really don’t have anything to complain about!
Papua New Guinea is a beautiful country with lovely people, but it is not a ‘safe’ place for women to travel alone. I have been praying for humility and patience as I adapt to living in a community where my decisions affect more than just me. Most people my age have raised a family at this point and learned personal sacrifice that way. Well, I’ll just go and have a bunch of kids all at once and live in community with them and my co-workers! Please pray for me during this time of transition, and especially for my new community, as it is inevitable that my sinfulness and ick will come out, which terrifies me. The Lord has graciously provided me ample opportunities to practice sanctification while living with my dear family this past month. 🙂
See below for a few photos of some lovely winter adventures I’ve had alone or with family this season…I reveled in ice-coated trees and plants on a solo off-trail bushwhack in the high country of WV this past week. I think the only kind of ice I’ll see in PNG will come out of my freezer! 😉