Friday, December 19, 2014

And Mary said, “Behold, I am the servant of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word.” And the angel departed from her. Luke 1:38 (ESV)

okay really. if an angel of the Lord came to me and told me I was going to be pregnant with the Son of God I would not respond this way. I would probably run around like my head had just got chopped off and drop some inappropriate words to say in front of an angel of the Lord. what a picture of faith. I am so grateful that God chose Mary to be the mother of Jesus and not me. I can't imagine. when i read those words this morning i was blown away. i'm sure i've read them before but wow. maybe she said other things. maybe she did run around or cry or ask questions but that's all the bible says she said. and it is perfect. i love that she said i am THE servant of the Lord. she knew. she knew she was the ultimate servant. that laying down her life, her pride, her everything to have this baby in a dirty manger stall was the ultimate act of service the world will know apart from her son himself.

i am wondering why i am so taken aback by these words she spoke. why am i unable to wrap my head around them? why was mary able to have such a visceral natural reaction to them? man, I want faith like that.

i've been thinking about things to blog about for the past month but final papers took over and then i was tired of writing. but this segways nicely so follow me. i am a wanderer. every time i sing the words "prone to wander Lord I feel it, prone to leave the God I love, take my heart Lord take and seal it, seal it for the courts above" they resonate deep in my bones. I can't tell you how many journal pages I've filled with those words and prayers that God really would take my heart and seal it because I can't be trusted with it. I am an adventure seeker, questioner, deep-feeler of feelings, and passionate. all these things are synonymous with reckless but I try to not live a reckless life. I have tried to make space for the things I am able to say yes to. I'm not sure God asks us to do things like have babies by immaculate conception anymore but i think there are things he still lets us say yes to that are scary. moving to colorado, moving to brasil, moving to richmond, holding sick babies, hiking mountains at nighttime. these are some for me. all adventures, all scary, all things the Lord has set before me that I've been able to say yes to. I used to live in the wanderer identity a little bit. I'd feel some weird pride when singing those lyrics next to my friends in church who are not prone to wandering. I felt like wandering was a bad thing and I got to be a rebel by being one. I've been thinking about the word a lot and what it means in my life and I don't think its so bad anymore. I think wandering and wondering are twins and that is just how some people live out their faith. I don't think Mary was wandering away from God, I think she was wandering and wondering how she could best serve him and he said, okay birth this baby. for me he's like, okay love people well at the gap. okay.

i think it's all about saying yes. to the good, hard, scary things. unless they are bad then probably don't.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

this is about honesty. 

last week i was asked what i thought was worth fighting for. my first answer was honesty and my second answer was justice. someone asked me why honesty. they said why not justice first or the lord or your family or your friends. i said i do not know. i just believe in honesty. i think god did too because as far as i know he/jesus/the holy spirit don't lie. so i think its pretty high up on the value list. i think honesty is worth fighting for. i think honesty is really hard. mostly really all the time it is hard. i'm not talking about the "do i look fat in this" kind of honesty. because sometimes that is mean and makes people sad. actually, maybe that honesty is okay because it leads to other conversations about things like self image and being comfortable or not. i digress. i mean the real, soul-wrenching, painful but freedom inducing honesty. 


i get it, i'm an upper middle class white girl talking about honesty in the wake of a whole lot of not honesty and tragedy. this isn't about that. or it is about that but i am not trying to weigh in or sway anyone. in fact, my friend matt had the best social media post about Ferguson i saw all day. "Please do not debate this. ‪#‎BlackLivesMatter‬ ‪#‎PrayForFerguson‬Peacemakers seek justice for all."

honesty. hard. for some reason i am good at it. probably the number one compliment i recieve is related to my honesty. this is funny and encouraging and sometimes scary to me. a week ago i was in a room full of women, some of which i knew, most i did not. they all answered this question about me "what is one thing i am not embarrassed about" their answers were "your body odor, your opinions, boys, anything because your are honest, and your problems" okay so really for being in the same room as some of these women for the first time IN MY LIFE and them only spending 3 hours with me playing a board game this is what they got. granted, i had just run a half marathon that day and could not really move or think but either 1) i am entirely too talkative or 2) i am entirely too honest and share way too much way too soon.  i was telling my friend diana this story the other day being slightly mortified about how these women picked up all these things from me in a very short time span. and diana reminded me that it is good. that a lot of people are not honest and it is refreshing (and sometimes a little scary) to meet someone who is honest like i am. 


two years ago i lived in a house with 8 other people and it was hard and fun and messy. at the end of the year we were talking about first impressions and how we felt about each other when we moved in the house. two of the girls said it was hard for them to love me or feel loved by me because of how honest i am. i remember being so humiliated and sad in that moment. they know me well though and knew i'd feel this way. they continued and said hannah no, we are radically different because of that in you. it is scary at first because this world is not like that but it is good and life giving and life changing. (i dont remember the words they used because really it was two years ago but it went something like that---thanks maggie & alexis) 


when people call me out for being honest or for even being a safe space for honesty it baffles me and is hard. i do not wake up and say i'm going to be really honest today and try to make friends or enemies because of it. maybe i don't have a filter. maybe i've just had some hard things in life that have made me a little weary and i decided along the way i was going to share those with people. i'm not sure. neither decision feels consious or intentional. i just know that i'd much rather live life with people talking about the mess than keeping the mess inside me. i know that i have been set free by other people being honest and if i can carry that on and walk with other people in their messes and maybe get to help/watch/participate them being set free from things too then why wouldnt i. 


back to this-god is honest. i think we were made to be honest. or maybe honesty came when the fall came. i don't know. but i think honesty reveals things and maybe starts a path to freedom. we have been reading books in my social justice class about oppression and dictatorships. naming things-naming oppressions-naming problems sheds light on them. it gives ownership to them. even if it really shitty. giving people names for things, even for oppression type things is a start. i think naming comes from honesty. comes from the honest reality of what is happening. naming things also can create unity with other people who have named things as well. if i name what is happening to me as oppression and you do too then there are two of us. and that is where change starts. naming, dialoguing about naming. it is all honesty. and hard. and scary. 


i am not saying honesty leads to all wonderful things. honesty leads to hard things too. loss of friendships or relationships, death, jail, i don't even know. honesty is not always believed. this friends, is why it is worth fighting for. clearly i am not a criminal-i hope to never be one. i do not know what it feels like to be a criminal and lie about it. i do not know that i would have enough integrity to be honest about crimes that i had committed. that seems the scariest. i can't even imagine it so i won't write about it. jesus was honest about who he was and he was murdered on the cross. i do not for a second think that jesus thought it would be better to stay on earth and hide who he was and lie about his identity rather than die for the human race. he was honest. he didn't even like being honest i bet. he prayed he would not have to be honest and would not have to die. honesty won in the end and radically changed my life & the entire course of human history because of it. 


i think honesty is worth fighting for. it is hard. but it is worth it. 

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

it is november 11th (my favorite day!) and that means 11 days of NaNoWriMo have past and I've written um approximately twice. So add this to the list of failures I have. I'm actually tired and can't think of any major failures up until this point so this may be my first one. My second one may come on Saturday when I attempt to run a half marathon without training. At 9 in the morning sitting outside in Charlottesville at Christines bachlorette weekend running a half marathon without training seemed like a good idea. Buzzfeed supported me and I even had dreams about running laps up and down a mountain and was convinced it would never be that hard. Race day is three sleeps away and now 13.1 miles seems way longer than it did six weeks ago. I've done some fake training--walking a lot, doing some sprints around my neighborhood, and doing a 30 day plank challenge (which I've also failed to do every day like I am supposed to--add it to the list). I just did a 2.5 minute plank and feel like I'm well on my way to failing on race day. I'm okay with that.

I haven't been doing a lot of writing. I've been doing a lot of thinking about writing, which is not the same thing. I bought a moleskin journal to write down all the things I want to write about because I always think of them at the gap or driving and by the time I get home I can't ever remember them. We've been talking in my social justice class about activism and verbalism. activism is acting without thinking which makes dialogue impossible. verbalism is talking talking talking forever but never putting action behind anything. praxis is the connection between activism and verbalism and manifests itself in action and reflection. this is really hard for me. i either obsess over something and talk it to death (sorry pals) and then finally succumb to action mostly because everyone encourages me to do so or i'm so tired of talking about things i just want to punch myself in the face. or i do wild actions without reflecting on how they will affect me or those around me. i'm not sure if premeditated activism is a thing but i think i do it. like i have thought a lot about running this half (and talked about it) and have done research about how to best run races without paying for them but in reality i'm just going to do it saturday morning. just going to do it and hope that i blend in enough to not get thrown out of the race. (to be fair--i'm not going to cross the start or finish line or take any water/snacks from the people so i'm trying to bandit/ghost run as nicely as possible). so it's praxis but not in the real way that praxis is supposed to be implemented or effective.

i think the balance is hard. walking the walk-talking the talk. doing things for you and not for other people. the times when i'm most active and least reflective are when i'm trying to impress people. actually...i talk a lot about situations too but more so because i'm an external processor and not as much to impress people. in grad school everyone freaks out all the time. everyone is always stressed and always bitching about how stressed they are. verbalism. i'm not into that. i'd rather spend that time complaining doing fun things then sitting down and writing a paper and complaining about it in the moment if need be but not for hours upon hours. i'd rather play tennis. or watch gilmore girls. or pretend i'm training for a half marathon.

so really...be a praxis person (is that an adjective? i don't know...) and be better than i am and act upon things and reflect on them. do things for yourself. do things for others. do things. that might be seeing a movie you've been talking about seeing--even if you go alone. or if you're going going going--chill. take a hike. reflect on life. good news is we'll all figure it out in the by and by and sometimes that's all you can want.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

blogs i could have written but didn't this week :

what life is like having a sister to drive to the mall with
how i sat in 4 different doctors chairs in the past two weeks
how i was really really angry and cussed out god this week
what it means when i turn on she don't want nobody near by the counting crows really loud & on repeat.

life has been full and busy and hard and full of glory glimpses lately. glory in the form of birthdays, new friends, text messages, patio sunsets at hope, remembering that this life is TEMPORARY.

i am grateful that this life is temporary. praise the lord. as mad and angry and as many times as i used profanities at god this week i was gently and lovingly reminded that this isn't life. this is not eternity. this little busy earth is earth and not heaven. praise the lord. i read a quote this morning that said something about how when you get to heaven jesus is as excited as you are that you're finally there. it will be good. so good. there won't be braces in heaven. or broken jaws or periodontal disease. praise the lord. nurse friends won't be paranoid about ebola because there won't be a need for nurses and there won't be ebola. this is good. i do not know what heaven will be like so maybe i shouldn't speculate on what it won't be like but i have to take heart in that. i have to have hope that it won't be this hard forever. that this little broken body that has been through hell & back in 24 short years will always be broken and cause for tears. if i don't have hope in that then i may shrivel up from all the tears.

god does this god thing where he promises people things and they have hope in those promises and sometimes they die before those promises are fulfilled. but those hopes aren't in vain. i don't think its ever going to be easy to believe and hope for heaven when earth is here and hard and full of medical insurance companies and their hold music. but that's what its all about i think--keeping on and holding on to those glory glimpses and hopes that show up.

ps--if i am blasting she don't want nobody near by the counting crows you really should stay away. this song should indicate that really, i don't want nobody near and also i probably can't figure out or deal with life.

pps- having a sister to drive to the mall with on a saturday afternoon is really lovely and i'm sad that i missed out on this for 22-ish years but grateful i get it now.

Thursday, October 9, 2014

this week i've needed a little extra hope. i've found it in billboard signs that say hope, pictures sent to me from old friends reminding me there is hope even in the dumpsters, wearing my hope is real TWLOHA shirt, sitting in the sun watching gilmore girls in between classes, curbside crys, full moons, river walks, running up large hills, and everyone asking me if i am okay because i clearly do not look okay this week.

this week i've been reminding myself over and over that god knows me and loves me and cares about every detail of my life. that he knows funny things like if i'll have braces again. if they will be invisalign or not (i hope they are god). he still knows the friends i'll make in this town. he knows who will mentor me. he knows what i'll do in 18 months when i graduate grad school. these are things i've taken hope in this week.

this week i have not felt like fighting. usually i tell myself to choose joy and when it doesn't seem easy to choose to fight for it. this week i have been defeated and beat down and felt weary to the core. so i am not fighting. i am seeking. and sometimes seeking good treasure takes a long time. so i am slowly picking myself up and trying to not cry in front of professionals and strangers for the 20th time in one day and seeking little hopes. take heart friends, hope is around and its okay if you are too weary to fight. the lord is fighting for you and the holy spirit is groaning along with you. take time to seek and try to find hope because sometimes that is really all we can do.

Thursday, September 4, 2014


Today was hard. I was accidently or inadvertently bullied by a classmate. She scratched through my name I had written on a list and she didn’t apologize until I had confronted her about it. Not the end of the world but to see my name scratched out without any warning made me pretty upset. Then in human behavior class we talked about race. We started talking about white privilege and the lack of black privilege. I only know I am privileged because I do not face oppression or prejudice. The lack of these things is what causes me to accept my privilege. It is not a bad I wear or anything I have literally ever thought about until today. Even in recent events of Ferguson or back when I learned about the KKK I was scared but I never thought it meant me. It was always an us and them issue but I would never name myself an us and black people a them. Honestly no black person I have ever known granted that isn’t too many has ever talked about being oppressed or how white people treat them differently. I did not know it happened every day to practically every black person. Blatantly like Michael brown being shot or subtly as in girls being followed in the grocery store or people literally walking on the other side of the street as a black male. I did not know. The article we were discussing was written by a white woman basically saying that her three white kids have white privilege and always will and all she can do about it is teach them not to shoot black people. She was more eloquent than I am but that was the gist of it. None of the black people in class disagreed that the article was good. They agreed that was about all white people can do. Racism won’t go away. We can try to have conversations about it with whites and blacks and hope our children have black friends and see how they are treated. The black people in class said when they have children they will tell them that white privilege is a thing and to not piss the white people off and to not be shot. They said nothing else could be said about it. Regardless of education, outward appearance, sophisticated use of language. None of it matters they said. I did not know. Lord come. I don’t know what to do. I just feel heavy. I don’t think I’ll ever have kids so I can’t raise them any way. I can have those conversations with people. I can love them and treat them with respect. I can actively seek to empower them instead of dehumanizing them. What else is there to do? I am sad and mad and at a loss. Maybe farther along we will understand why but tonight I am just mad. Mad that girls and guys in my classes alone and also in the whole world are treated unfairly based on skin pigment alone. I am mad that for 23 years I thought things on the news or the KKK were isolated incidents and sad and tragic and freak accidents that stupid ignorant white people did. I am mad that I too and stupid and ignorant and probably somewhere, or often if I’m being honest, I’ve treated someone different or held biases deep down, or made judgments based on skin pigment. If you had asked me yesterday if I would ever consider myself racist I would say no. I would be one of those people who would say I have black friends, I would date a black man, I want black babies. All those are shitty excuses and band-aids for the problem and issue of white privilege. Someone brought up the thought of White guilt in class today and how we feel guilty for having slaves when that wasn’t really us or our family but really it kind of was us and how are we supposed to feel now. The black people in class said guilt wasn’t the answer. They said they don’t talk about slavery or talk about being oppressed or talk about Ferguson in order to produce guilt or sorrow in white people everywhere. They talk about it to shed light on it. That’s the conclusion we came to today. That shedding light on things and talking about it and creating safe spaces are about all we can do. We can talk, we can show them real articles, we can remind them that Michael Brown was a real person with a real family and was really shot by a white police officer for no reason. Just as much as they don’t deserve to be oppressed I don’t deserve to be superior. We both didn’t ask for these positions in life. Our parents just had more or less melanin in their skin. I don’t know how the world got so fucked up or why it did. Lord, come.  I do not know. I don’t know what happens now. Like I said, maybe all I can do is shine light and keep talking. We can’t keep living in ignorance. Maybe things will change, maybe they won’t. They definitely won’t if we keep putting band aids on the problem and pretending like it’s only their problem. If we are going to generalize them as all black people who deserve to be treated this way then we have to generalize us too and call us all racist. Nothing is separated. We all have hearts. 

Sunday, May 25, 2014

i sat down to write this blog post and decided to listen to Sandra McCracken which i don't ever do and the first song that played is called Grace Upon Grace and that's what this is all about. Guess it was meant to be. this week has been full of blessings on blessings on blessings on provision. it started out with a lot of anxiety and worries and fears. i have been anxiously seeking housing for when i move to richmond in 6 little weeks. i replied to dozens of craigslist ads and weighed my options. this meant i weighed Casual pot smoker vs roommate with no job vs smokes pot every day but made me laugh in emails exchanged. needless to say, not many great options. some great ones though. then, megan asked me if i would seriously want to live with her and noah in a 4 bedroom house. i still thought she was kidding. then we had a skype meeting where we actually talked about it. then after an hour of conversation we all put our hands in and shouted roommates and that was that. instead of Roommate Wanted ads on craigslist I switched to 4 bedroom house available. I like those ads better. so, all at once i had a roommate. more than one. that i already knew and who probably won't turn out to be axe murderers. so that's a plus. the next day i had a little freak out anyway. at about 3 am i woke up and couldn't go back to sleep thinking it was too fast and wondering if i had made the wrong choice and thinking that all my dreams of living in a house of sweet girls was gone and i would never make any friends in richmond. then around 3:38 i remembered that God is really really good and that he desires good things for us and that this was not as shocking to him as it was to me. he knew that i would live with noah and megan. he knows the house we will have. he is not looking at me shaking his head saying oh crap hannah messed this up real bad. so then around 3:43 i went to sleep and my stupid fears were gone. the next morning i was telling chelsea all this and she happened to remember her pal zippy is moving to richmond to work at a church. i told her this was a fine time to tell me this. then she also remembers it is northside church where sam and kelly and christine go. so that is real nice too. i message zippy and it turns out we are actually the same person her skin is just a little more brown than mine and she can have dreads and it doesn't look stupid on her like it would on me. we laugh and confide in each other that we both are nervous about moving to richmond and want to make friends and she will live in a house of girls that i can hang out at often. so god provided friends for me less than 12 hours after i had laid awake scared i wouldn't make any friends. some of the craigslist potential roommates have turned out to be cool too and have become friends so life is good.

on thursday 4 interns came (see previous post about girl named taylor) and 2 are living with me. Baily and Taylor. and they are great. thursday morning the power was out so i couldn't do any office work so i hung out in Diana's house and got some quality time with sweet girls and asked if they would still love me that night after taylor arrived. they promised the would. i was almost sick with worry and anxiousness and probably lingering jealousy and the past 4.5 months have lead up to them coming! then they arrived. and we hugged and breathed sighs of relief together and it was so good. i am so happy they are here. it's been great. god is so good. i don't get to live in a house of girls in richmond, i get to live with my family, but the next 6 weeks i get to live in a house of girls and serve and love deep and laugh together with them and that is good. friday night we all cooked dinner and watched modern family and it was the best and most normal friday night i've had in over 4 months. praise the lord.

extra provisions from this week:
-getting to pray with and cry with Diana because sometimes life doesn't make sense and she let me carry some burdens for her and i am so grateful
-Yasmin wrote me a letter and gave me a pencil case covered in cats
-I ate some good cake on tuesday and my favorite little buddy Joao came to the office and wrote me letters and then ate my cake
-chelsea prayed for me a lot this week
-my family is still always really funny and great
-i learned how to make tapioca and it was really fun
-i get to do dishes, write notes, and buy treats for people all in ENGLISH and not portuguese.
-my dad mailed me a vegetable peeler so making v8 juice this week only took like 40 minutes instead of 3 hours.

i'm so grateful. week 18 was good ya'll.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

comparison is the thief of joy--right? yes. it is. ever since i arrived in brasil i have been comparing myself to others. first to melissa, that i wasn't doing a good job at teaching english or that i wasn't discipling girls or that i was just the worst. then i started hearing about this girl who has been coming to the lar for years with her family and she's better than sliced bread. for four months now i have heard about how great taylor is and how great it is when she is here and on and on on and on. and i got insecure. really really really insecure. and insecurities led to jealousy. and jealousy led to ill thoughts. towards a girl I DIDNT EVEN KNOW. so...i messaged her. we started having friendly conversations as her arrival date approached. i prayed daily for her. i prayed that god would remove these insecurities from my heart. the ill thoughts i had were nothing more than bandaids i tried to hide my insecurities behind. even as we messaged more and my heart softened and i got to see that she lives up to the hype that proceeds her. i have been preparing my apartment for her arrival. i continually prepare my heart for her (and another girl) to live in this tiny apartment with me and share life with me. i have grown more and more excited for her arrival. I have longed for a friend since being here and God is sending two cool girls to live in the room next to mine. I am grateful.

last night i was laying in my hammock and just knew i had to tell her these things. i wrote her a long message confessing my insecurities and jealous thoughts and telling her i had moved on from them but i couldn't stand to have her arrive without having confessed them first. i longed for her to assuage any rements of fears i had. she did. she was gentle and kind and i am so grateful. she reminded me that we are in this ministry together. 

how often do i forget that. i am doing work for the kingdom. she is doing work for the kingdom. if a 12 year old girl hugs her more than she hugs me in a day...life will go on. if i get hung up on that i am hindering the kingdom and not furthering it. lord help me remember that. i don't know where these insecurities and fears come from other than from sin. its so ugly. 

my friend diana posted a picture on instagram today that said "I'm not interested in competing with anyone. I hope we all make it" - erica cook. I'm all about that. I  want to root for people more. I want to hope and pray that she can connect with girls better than i can. i pray that god uses things in her life to reveal more of himself to girls. i pray that god uses things in my life to reveal more of himself to girls. sometimes michael scott is right and life is a win win win situation. i pray i can root more for the win win win's. 

Wednesday, May 7, 2014



i am spending the day at mark and paige's beach house all by myself. aka...my life is glorious. and i am so grateful. i laid in the sand for a long time this morning trying to be still and quiet and telling God i was ready to hear from him. instead i got the song Body Language by Jesse McCartney stuck in my head. Last night at diner Paige was advising me on how to treat some girls here who I have had issues with and she said "you only have a limited amount of time left to plant seeds...so love them as best you can". Inbetween singing Body Language and the ocean lapping at my toes I thought about where Jesus tells Peter to feed his sheep. I turned that into my prayer. It wasn't too hard because it wasn't like I heard or even thought God said "pull the toenails off a girl" so it wasn't like I had to really question whether feeding his sheep was a good idea or not. I prayed that in the 9.5 weeks I have left that I would be able to do that. then I got insecure. I've been battling in my mind the concept or thoughts that I am a bad missionary. I do not lead bible study. I do not constantly talk to girls about jesus or pray with them or lead them in spiritual matters. I've been insecure that my time here will be a waste if i do not lead a girl to Christ or see active fruit in a girls life due to something I told her or did for her or with her. All these things are really stupid things to think about because they all revolve around me. 

i do not do all the aforementioned things. i do however-love these girls, laugh with them, stroke their arms when they are crying, play incessant games of uno with them, lend them my nailpolish, cook scrambled eggs with them, have my quiet time on my porch every morning and wave as girls walk by my house, and live a lot of life with them. 

i've been remembering lately that my everyday life is my testimony and that all these things can be holy and saturated with the gospel if my heart is in the right place. so, i think that is good. but i can be encouraged and remember to carry on and to not become weary which lately i have been. 

as i jumped the waves and continued thinking i also thought that i need to seriously change my vocabulary. my friend heather last summer taught me the value of changing the atmosphere sometimes. in your heart, in your room, in your life. sometimes you really just have to change the atmosphere. you can't always change the situations or circumstances but you can change the atmosphere. i've been needing to change my vocabulary though. i have been so accustomed to saying things are hard or just okay or sucky or whatever and i decided that that probably makes god pretty sad. every day he gives me a day and tries to give me things that will bring me joy, if nothing else--himself should bring me enough joy--and every day i get sad or lonely or frustrated and give up hope. i try to reclaim joy, i read books about hope. i try to love girls out of my own heart and every day i feel weary. i think if i stopped being such a selfish idiot for a minute though i could really think of some great things. like today. like a gracious day at the beach all alone. girls telling diana to tell me to come home soon because they miss me. the excitement i have about having two cool girls live with me soon so i don't have to be all alone forever now. also, enjoying my last few weeks of solitude in the apt. life is good. i hate that i'm so slow to realize that and be okay with it. i hope my vocabulary can change and that when i leave this place i can remember the good and not just say...that was hard as shit for 6 months. 

good thing God is in the buisness of redemption and is already redeeming this time and will continue to do so.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

the past month has been hard. you are tired of me saying my days are hard. i am tired of them being hard. i was really sick and in the hospital a month ago, then i got better, then i went home for sam and kelly's wedding, then my parents came back to brasil with me for a week, and just now i feel like i am back in a good routine and enjoying life again. sam and i remind eachother a lot that we don't do well with change. we are both terrible at it. so i think the past month of each week different things happening made life a little harder. there were insanely great things in those weeks, i'm not saying things were bad every day all the time but it made it hard for my joy to be steady because it was so up and down. coming home and leaving again, my parents coming and leaving again.

today right now i love brasil again. my fan is the perfect temp. i am listening to my spring 2013 playlist as loud as i can and it is good. reminds me of last spring and drinking a lot of slushees and loving the 8 other people i lived with deeply and having really great car rides. i am thankful.

today started off good, got really bad because teenagers are teenagers and they are sneaky tricksters and get mad when you catch them being sneaky and then they sulk. but i took a break and walked to the store and felt a little down but then the local hang out spot for drunks was blasting samba music and all the drunk men were singing along and i thought Wow they are really into Wednesday afternoons. and that made me smile. because, even though they were drunk at 2:30 in the afternoon they were still enjoying life. so i decided to celebrate wednesday afternoons as well. i noticed the pretty blue sky. i happily went back to work. i had funny conversations and shared secrets with one of my best friends shannon. i laughed with chelsea. i had a funny team vaughn text thread. i did couch to 5k with tia Nova. i rejoiced with her and talked to her and told her about my day and halfway through our conversation and walk/run she grabbed my arm and said WE ARE HAVING A CONVERSATION and we rejoiced that i can speak portuguese. alice ate all her dinner and didn't even cry and that is worth rejoicing in too. i did some interpretive dance in Diana's bedroom and laughed deeply. i've been laughing more. that is nice.

i went to church by myself. i carried a knife in my bra. someday i won't have to carry a knife in my bra everywhere i go but for now i do. that's okay too. the pastor talked about how important it is to read your bible. i get it. i appreciate it though. then he prayed for me and i understood most of it but this stuck out to me: god i pray you give hannah more opportunities to trust and believe in you. then i picked all my fingernail polish off and went home. i killed some tarantulas, i danced in my kitchen, and i loved brasil again. it feels so good. i am so grateful. i am grateful for people who are in tune with the Spirit and can share that with me. I am grateful for gchat and texting and best friends who share their normal day to day life with me. I am thankful that God is good and desires to give me good things and promises to provide for me if i am obedient to his call, which I think I am. I am grateful for a new really funny sister who thrives on making my family members feel awkward and laugh a lot. I am thankful for cool evenings and even cooler portable fans. I am grateful for friends who can point out things that are happening in my life that seem too close for me to notice, I am thankful that i get to stay in this country for 12 more weeks because yesterday the police told me i had to leave the country immediately (they changed their minds), i am grateful for funny moments like salamanders crawling out of my laundry that hangs on the line. i am grateful for hugs and girls that rejoice in seeing me after a long day in the office. i am grateful for encouragement and words of affirmation. i am grateful for my brain that learns portuguese. i am grateful for cold water that probably has parasites in it but i drink it anyway. i am grateful for really cool people that produce really cool music that i love a lot.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

i am in the united states of america. i am in the bed i have slept in since i left my crib. i am in the room i have lived in since high school. this is all a little astounding to me. three days ago i was in brasil. in a house that i have come to mostly love. in a bed that is covered with a mosquito net to protect me from tarantulas and scorpions and less importantly, mosquitos. i got home tuesday afternoon. the miami airport was my first step into america. i was tired and confused. when asked if i was a us citizen i responded yes in portuguese. i thanked people i saw in portuguese. america has fast internet. this was shocking to me. my dad picked me up and he was the same. 10 pounds lighter. go him. my mama hugged me in the middle of her classroom and cried and squeezed me too tight. the air outside doesn't smell like poop. it is crisp and clean and cold and wonderful. my house that i have lived in for 23 years seems brighter and softer and nicer than ever before. couches are soft. my bed is wonderful. i know what drawer the tape is in. i know where to find the cash jar i hid before i left. i drove these streets i've driven since i got my license when i was 15. this town is the same (except they tore down taco-bell which is a little travesty) walmart was overwhelming and too much but quickly i found things i wanted to buy just to buy. i bought a bowl of candy at sweet frog and fries at mcdonalds. i stopped to smell the daffodils. i delighted in a closet full of clean clothes. i reveled in the amount of THINGS i have lived without for three months and have not missed. how did i ever live without these 7 mason jar mugs?

home is the same. my mama said it's like i never left but the minute i leave again there is a huge hole that doesn't get filled until i come back. i have wondered over the past 36 hours if i am the same. have i changed? has three months overseas impacted me? in walmart i reached for scarves, earrings, clothes, things that i have not had the luxury of seeing or touching or buying in three months. immediately my consumerism took over. i didn't give into it but it was there. i thought about the kids at the Lar who will never know a walmart. who will probably maybe never live a lifestyle of walking into a store and buying things to just buy them. i reminded myself that i have lived in a dirt town for three months without needing more things. i buy food once a week and snacks to treat myself but i am never in need of new clothes, new shoes, new things. i've bought one cd on amazon in the past three months which is actually amazing because usually i buy like one a week.

is my heart different though? it's cool that i can not buy things. that's a step. but really--i hope i am changed on the inside. deep in my heart. that i can love others better. that i am more compassionate. that i am more flexible and have learned that my life and my plans are not my own or probably not even that good of plans and i shouldn't hold onto them too tightly. this is a weird thing to come back to the us for six days and go back to brasil. it is wonderful and soft and nice but also weird to feel these conflicts in my heart. i am glad to feel uncomfortable though. I think if i was compltely comfortable here or completely comfortable in brasil i wouldn't be changing or being molded by the Lord so i am thankful for the weirdness and being able to pray though it and learning through it.

Monday, March 31, 2014

Ebenezers. Places where the Lord shows up. I like to mark them. Sometimes with actual rocks like Samuel, sometimes with screenshots of text messages, sometimes with pictures, sometimes in blog form. This past week was full of provision and I am so grateful.

I have been in Brasil ten weeks so far and have not gotten sick yet at all. My diet still does not consist of sugar so and I am very active here so it’s been good. Over a week ago though my neck swelled up for the first time. I spent the day in my apartment resting and felt better by that night. The following two days I felt good, went to a sleepover with 12 tiny girls and life was good. Woke up the next Monday with a headache, fever, and a neck the size of China. It was so swollen and painful I could not talk. Provision 1-one of the workers here had a microwave in his house and I asked him if I could borrow it to heat up a washcloth to create a hot compress. He immediately went to his house and walked his microwave over to mine and let me use it all day long. Provision 2-All day long I had house moms knocking on my windows asking me if I was okay or if they could do anything for me or if I needed anything. Provision 3-My friend who speaks English just happened to be spending 3 days at the orphanage this week--something that rarely happens but the timing was perfect! So she took care of me and I didn’t have to struggle to speak Portuguese to her. Provision 4-One of my favorite workers here came to my house to check on me and laid her hands on me and prayed for me over and over beautiful prayers in Portuguese. Provision 5-The couple that runs the orphanage had been in the States until now and came back this week...PERFECT timing. I am so grateful. They know doctors and the right hospitals and speak English and as much comfort as I felt from the workers here there was something good about being with Americans. Provision 6-I went to the hospital reluctantly but I was not getting better and was so tired of feeling so sick and in so much pain and not talking. Provision 7-I didn’t die in a Brasilian hospital! Doctors were great, there were great nurses, the doctor who did an ultrasound on my neck happened to be an infectious disease doctor who specializes in necks so he knew what he was looking at and looking for. Provision 8-after 10 days of feeling like total crap I finally feel better due to a very large amount of medicine I have been given. I am so grateful. Life is good. I go home in 7 days (get home in 8) and I have never been so excited for anything in all my little life. Here is good though. The right now is good. I have been writing a lot because I'm doing this pretentious thing called writing a book (memoir--which sounds more pretentious) and I wote an entry on www.dearstranger.org so I feel a bit written out and I'm still recoveing but I wanted to mark this significant place. and Called Me Highe by All Sons and Daughters is playing and I can't ignoe that song or not blog to it so here it came.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Joy snuck up on me. I'm not sure when, maybe this past weekend, but it did. I am so grateful. Last week was hard and bad. I attribute it mostly to my bad attitude. Somewhat to the tarantulas, but mostly to myself. But this week is real good. Sunshine, waking up at 7 to write until 8, trying to have a quiet time and then thrown into the day. I'm not sure when things changed here but I just noticed that they have dramaticaly. Kids come to me asking me for help with their homework, ask to sit on my porch with me, ask me to eat lunch and dinner with them, ask me to play basketball and soccer, ask me for band-aids, ask me to perform minor surgery on them when they do stupid things, ask to borrow my clothes. The Tia's ask me to help in the kitchen, ask me to make facebook pages for them, ask me for advice on how to love these kids better, ask me to go to church with them. I have a place. I belong. I have office tasks but I also have life tasks. Sarah Thomas reminded me that to live here is ministry and that is enough. Ministry isn't solely office work, art work, teaching english. It is all. You think that since I blogged about that back in January I would have learned that lesson by now but apparently I am slow. I think I have learned it for the moment. I think this comfortable feeling I have in my skin and my bones and my days is an indicator of that.

life is just good people.

Friday, March 14, 2014

On Fridays we have hope. The kids don't have school on the weekends but the office is still running because someone has to be in charge in case a kid breaks their arm or runs away or osmething. I tend to have no desire to work on the weekends though and instead lounge around watching movies with the kids and hiding behind my house tanning in a plastic chair. Tanning is frowned upon here so I do my tanning in secret. The sun is shining and I am grateful and embracing it. This week has not been great. Lots of rain means lots of bugs and spiders seeking shelter from the bad weather. They must of all heard that I am a great host and a really fun girl because they are all seeking shelter in my house. This hs led to a shockingly high murder rate of spiders in Brasil. I only sometimes feel bad about it. I have written a lot of blogs over the past 24 hours of how bad this week has been. I could tell you these things so you will feel bad for the missionary with no power in the middle of the summer in Brasil. Or I could tell you the things God is teaching me instead-because I think that is much more long lasting than several bad days in a row. And because chances are if you read my blog I have already at length told you of all the bad things that have happened this week and there is no sense in re-hashing them.

I have friends who have a hard time trusting God during the good happy parts of their lives. They find it easy to seek him and rely on him fully when things are rough and the world is beating them down. I am the opposite I am learning. I have a pretty joyful disposition that I have cultivated over the years. since the concept of gratitude entered my life circa 2009 with the reading of One Thousand Gifts my life has dramatically improved. I find it easy to seek God and his grace and love in the good things because I have come to acknowledge the good gifts that He has given me. I can sing a thousand praises of his love and see His hand in the good. When things get hard it is so much harder for me to see Him. For me to rely on Him. Even when I make my daily list of gratitude. The smaller the list is the harder it is to see Him. I hate this about myself. I hate that I am not content with the smallest of daily gifts. I desire more. Sometimes it is just hard to see the much more though. I have not sought the much more this week. I have thrown up 911 prayers of Seriously God, I don't want to live here. This is hard. If I see one more spider I will lose it. If I have to sleep one more night with no power resulting in no fan resulting in hot restless sleep I will maybe seriously die. As I have been writing this and thinking about this I realize maybe I have a pretty crappy view of God. If I only see Him in the good and in the abundance. I don't want to cheapen his grace or Jesus' surrender on the cross. In Utmost this week Chambers has been talking about total surrender. God didn't spare anything-nor did Jesus- on the cross. He didn't halfway die for our sins. Or die for half our sins. He totally surrendered it all on the cross and we are called to do the same. We can't accept the cross and the sacrifice it was and then only surrender half of ourselves in return. The sacfirice must be equal. I can't just surrender and acknowledge the good. I've got to figure out how to surrender the bad. I eventually get there and get over the pouting and talking to 5000 friends before I talk to the Lord. I remember to journal and remember to pray and sometimes I feel better.

During this Lenten season I have decided to pray for 7 areas of my life daily. Those areas are family,friends, the Lar, grad school, relationships, ministry in RVA, and dreams/the future. I have 7 people, areas, thoughts within those 7 categories so I pray for one aspect of each area a day. I am learning to sit before the Lord more. Praying for 7 people or areas takes time of sitting and being quiet. I'm not too good at either of those things. It is good though. I am finding comfort and having a calmer heart after doing that. It has been good this week to at least have that 20-30 minutes daily of quieting my heart before the Lord and bringing things and people I love to the alter of God. I have prayed for myself a lot this week too. I'm never really good at that. I think it is all connected though. I am grateful that my practice of prayer during Lent is happening now and that I am learning to surrender it all in my life. I didn't see the connections until right now. Maybe you don't in this muddled post but I do and that is good. I am learning. Learning about surrender. Learning about the all. Still learning about the much more that I am promised and am invited to live in. Learning to have hope in more than just sunny friday mornings.  

Thursday, February 27, 2014

i am listening to called me higher by all sons & daughters and holding back tears. today has changed me.

Cause You have called me higher
You have called me deeper
And I'll go where You will lead me Lord

until 11 am this morning I had fleas. I think I got them saturday or sunday from the cats and dogs in the house in the city. I'm not sure. but I couldnt even sleep Monday night because my head itched so bad. I wasn't going to tell anyone though because I was too scared. Also, I wasn't sure if it was fleas or lice and I didn't want to gross anyone out. So I stopped washing my hair because I heard that they like clean hair better than dirty hair. Coincidentilly I wanted to stop using shampoo anyway and try to transition to just washing my hair with water so I thought it would work. It didnt. Still itched. Still didnt want to tell anyone my gross secret.

Today I was tossing a ball with some girls and Diana asked if she could wash my hair. I thought this was weird but she was washing everyone else's hair too so I said why not. She cut it a few days ago and if she saw the fleas she didn't say anything about them. So she washed it and told me it was a medicated shampoo for fleas because all the girls had fleas too. I got them in the city though so I guess these things just happen. So she washed my hair and all the girls hairs and then she literally spent the next 30 minutes using a flea comb going through my hair. Let me tell you. Flea city. Sick nasty. I kept apologizing and I was crying because of how dirty I felt and how she didn't even care she just kept singing No more fleas no more fleas no more fleas and telling me it was okay and telling the fleas to get out of my head.At one point she exclaimed that I really did live here now that I had fleas like everyone else. Glad this is what it takes to be considered a local. I watched as the girls all carefully combed through each others hair. No one made anyone feel ashamed, no one laughed at how gross it was, they just accepted that this was life and did what they had to do to get rid of the gross and then we all ate lunch. After Diana was done combing my hair and announced me flea free I immediately picked up the comb and started combing through my young friend Vitoria's hair. After she was declared flea free she asked me to braid her hair and we laughed and she told me to try again so I braided it again. That was it. My head doesnt itch any more.

I am overwhelmed with grace. First off-that God loves me enough to provide for me even in the little things like flea shampoo. It was just random that Diana asked to wash my hair, I didnt tell her it itched and she didn't ask me if I had fleas or not. She just decided to wash it and see. Thank you God. Second off-I have never so evidently seen or been the hands and feet of Jesus as I saw and was today. Utmost the other day talked about the New Testament version of a saint- not one who merely proclaims the gospel but one who becomes the broken bread and poured out wine in the hands of Jesus for the sake of others. This was it. Loving each other-washing each others hair, combing through it, picking out fleas, massaging the flea dirt out of each others hair.

Everything about today reminded me of the gospel. From myself wanting to hide my shame and dirty parts and try to take care of it on my own without medicine, to being offered a hair wash without asking for one, to Diana taking her sweet time to make sure every last flea was gone, to loving me, to then me extending that grace to others because of what had been done for me.

I am so grateful that God loves me enough to remind me of Himself everywhere every day. I am grateful that I have eyes to notice Him. I am grateful that he cares about me--even tiny parts of me like fleas on my head. I am so grateful.

I know this blog was gross. But, I hope you see how amazing this all is. And you can pray that I don't get fleas again. Or maybe that I do if I need to be reminded of God's love some more.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

February is almost over so I can write a blog about relationships and it doesn't have to be another blog written by a girl around valentines day. Those are good though, I read a lot of good articles on relationships and singlehood and love around valentines day and I am grateful for those who wrote. This blog has been inspired by some of those that I read but also inspired by conversations ive had with best friends lately and what God is doing in my heart here in Brasil.

I mostly hate the way that we talk about singlehood. I hate how we encourage those who are single. Chances are this blog is directed at you. Some of my best friends. At myself. We, typically, as girls love to affirm each other when we find ourselves wallowing in the pitfall that is singlehood. I think we are well-meaning. I have never felt hostility or that my friends were telling me lies just to tell me lies. Maybe your friends do that, I don't tend to surround myself with people who lie to me (unless I ask them to in the instance of...please lie to me and tell me july is RIGHT around the corner—then you can lie to me all the live long day). Friends love to say “It'll happen someday!” “I know there is a guy out there who will love all these weird things about you!” “It'll just be SO great when you meet that great guy!” “I just know you'll date again!” I have said those things to my best girl friends. And my heart behind them is sincere. I really do hope and pray that they meet someone and that someone does love them for all the weird things and amazing qualities I see in them. I used to LOVE hearing those things from my friends. I believe that my friends have my best interest in mind and want all the world for me because I want all the world for them. Like I said before, I don't think these friends are lying to me or trying to placate me. I think the encouragement is good and comes from a good place.

I think it is misguided though. Deep down these encouragements are only reinforcing our worldly idea that we will be complete with a relationship or marriage. It probably will be real great IF I meet that great guy who loves that I am weird and laugh a lot and eat peanut butter on everything and hate wearing shoes. But it's also real great now. We are given all that we need in the Lord. Like I blogged about before—we already have the “much more” of life. I digress-- I want us to change our vernacular. I want to affirm and embrace and encourage qualities in my friends that have nothing to do with a relationship. I want to affirm their weird habits, their love of serving, their killer talents, THEM. I want to remind them that they are enough. That they are a crazy rare treasure that deserves the world-and has already been given it in the Lord. That life is really great and that it will never be complete with anyone besides the Lord. I don't want to reinforce their beliefs that they are only half a person or half a life in their singlehood. Even if those encouragements I listed earlier are well-intentioned they are still mis-guided.

Try changing your heart and attitude when encouraging your pal next time she's down about being single and is cursing love. Remind her that she is worthy and valuable as she is. And that the Lord will always see her that way. And that you will too. Leave out the “it'll happen someday” and throw in the “you are an amazing woman...i love _____ about you and want to encourage you to continue doing _____ because it is really great and the world is better for it.” Pray for your friends. Pray for husbands or boyfriends that you hope to arrive some day. I don't know how it all works. Some are called to marriage, some aren't. But know that you are worthy and valuable as you are and you can be that real great amazing person despite a relationship status.  

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

if I were to have titles for my blogs...which i don't because i hate titles and subject lines on emails--it would be this

how to-do lists & praise ruined my life.

i am a hard worker. i have had odd jobs since i was 16, worked all through college, graduated college with a job in my field of study, did an intense year long internship which required much work where much was expected of me and i usually received much praise for my job well done, and august to December of 2013 i held 6 jobs at one time. i have been told over and over and over by multiple bosses how efficient i am, how hard of a worker i am, how intelligent i am, how competent, how effective i am at tasks, and many other praises. i was taught to make to-do lists and enjoyed the satisfaction of crossing things off. i'm the type of person who adds things to my to do lists that are already done just to cross them off. i know how to prioritize, make goals, and use time really efficiently. somewhere along the way those things worked their way into my soul. i didnt know it. i didnt know it until they were taken away. dont really know what you got till its gone ya know.

all those high praises sound like im boasting and tooting my own horn. at some points in life i have been prideful and boastful about those things. but you know what? i'm learning that they dont matter. if we dont use them wisely or unto the Lord as we are instructed to do about 14345 times in the bible they are pointless. i read an article on the gospel coalition today about sin and it talked about natural and un-natural sins. we can fairly easily recognize un-natural sins (killing, lying, stealing...ect) but the natural sin in us is what gets us in the long run. maybe it takes moving to another country to see it. i'm not sure. somewhere along the line when those praises buried themselves in my little heart they turned into an idol i didn't know i was worshiping until it grew real big. then i arrived here. i know i talked about this in a previous post so i wont talk about how i feel inadequate and pointless and wandering aimless in this place because i dont have task lists and am not being praised for holding hands and playing soccer. lets be real i will NEVER be praised for my soccer skills because they dont exist. so, slowly (or not so slowly because i have been here only 5 weeks) insecurities began to fill those holes in my heart that the idol of work had made. i think it works like that. things poke holes in our hearts and then other things seep into those holes. thats why we are commanded to let the fruits grow deep in our hearts-to get rid of all the bad things. thoughts of insecurities, of failure, of worthlessness, of confusion, of comparison crept in. and they are all lies. i have to combat the lies with writing down and praying circles around truth daily. people may already be tired of encouraging me and speaking truth into my life but i am so grateful that they do. most days i believe it. most days are great. but those things still have their thorns in my heart and if i'm not ready to fight them with truth they dig a little deeper as opposed to being a little more removed every day.

this morning as i was listening to the new ellie holcomb cd (go buy it right now) she sings Love never fails and i've heard that plenty, shes not the only person to write a song about it, i've read it in the bible but the lord did a sweet little whisper in my ear and said Love never fails and Love never sees you as a failure. Thats big. He promises to never fail me and never will which I feel good about but knowing that the opposite is true is good too. That He never fails me and that when He looks at me he doesn't see my failures as failures. He doesn't see me sin and judge me accordingly. He is still love and is ready to love me.

so, God is busy wrecking my self perception and my accidental idols of work. It is good. and messy. but really good. I am grateful. some days my journal is covered with the word grata which is the portuguese word for grateful. muito muito muito grata. a lot lot lot lot lot grateful.

Sunday, February 16, 2014

have. want. need.

i learned those words in portuguese in that order. it wasnt until week 3 that i learned how to say need. because by then i started to actually need things. confession: i see cheesy christian metaphors all over the place. i could probably write a blog about the things i see or have learned that i could apply to a neat christian discipline or lesson. i learn them and then never bring them up because-i dont like cheesy christian things. i like honest, real, messy things. i dont have a propensity towards easy sayings, things that rhyme, songs learned in sunday school or youth group, or any other neat tidy things. but, as i read over the book i write down portuguese words in as i learn them i was struck at the progression i have made. when thinking about life i think it can come down to these three words. sometimes in that order, sometimes not. i think it is pretty indicative of my life though.

there are things i have. a lot of things actually. too many things. i think i will be shocked when i return to america to a room full of things that i have lived without for 6 months. there has not been a time since moving here where i thought--oh if i only had...i am learning that i have a lot more than i realize i have. also learning that we can live off a lot less than we think we can.

at some point we forgot what we have and we desire more though. or other. i know that i have 10 shirts here that are perfectly fine. i know that i have really great chacos. i know that i have enough snacks in my fridge to last me. but the desire creeps in...and i want more. i want to buy flip flops to fit in. i want to buy that bag of doritos because it'll make me happy this afternoon-i forget all the really great snacks i already have. i want a hot shower because i havent had one in five weeks. i want want want.

and then hopefully...we come back to what we need. and if we stop to think about it-the things we have or even want probably wont fill that need. the need for comfort, happiness, joy, fulfillment.

i have things that fill me. i want more things to fill me. i forget that all i need is the Lord. if only i had learned that word first. all the haves or have nots or wants wouldn't be so big or drastic or dire. because i have and want all i need forever in the Lord. it's hard to learn. hard to reconcile with our hearts who lean so heavily into this world. our hearts learn to have and want things so much easier than we learn to rely on our only need that is filled in Jesus.

Friday, February 14, 2014

this blog isn't worth reading. im just too lazy to write all this in my journal and i can type a lot faster than i can write.

one of my favorite parts of my day is around 8 in the morning. I wake up usually to motorcycle races and dogs barking and children yelling. i go to the bathroom. i crawl back under my mosquito net and listen to my ipod and the fan is usually the perfect temperature and the sun usually comes in through my shutters and life is good and perfect. this morning was more perfect than usual. it was sunny, the kids didn't have school today so they were still in their houses being quiet, Climb by Will Reagan was playing on my ipod and I laid in bed listening to it on repeat for an hour. I also played about 20 games of Solitaire of which I won like 5. but it was so good. i sang at the top of my lungs

i will climb this mountain with my hands wide open.
i am so in love with you--there is no one else for me.
theres nothing i hold on to.

i liked knowing all those were true.

Saturday, February 8, 2014

ad·vent

  [ad-vent]  Show IPA
noun
1.
a coming into place, view, or being; arrival: the advent of the holiday season.

I am in the advent of adventure. I arrived in Brasil about three and a half weeks ago. Nay told me 3 weeks would make all the difference. While approaching week 3 I thought it would never happen. It has though. I have had 5 really good days in a row. Melissa came Tuesday and walked in on me crying in the office and she stayed with me all day and we had normal conversations and she was real encouraging. She reminded me that even if I do tasks in the office when I leave in 6 months it will be my relationships that last, not excel sheets or emails sent. There was more freedom in that sentence than I have heard in anything else since arriving here. 

I have been learning a lot. Christine and I have been reading Ephesians together and I don't think we could be reading a more perfect book right now. The Lord has been romancing me as I've read it like I have never felt before. Promises on promises on promises lavished upon my, treasures, masterpieces, UNENDING HOPE, all for the now. Not for the will be. God pursued the Gentiles even when they were far away and the Jews when they were close by. He is pursuing me, and has been in both seasons. I am so grateful for these truths. I just finished reading The Circle Maker by Mark Batterson and at first I hated it and him but i ended up loving it and learning a lot from it. I have chosen to circle Romans 15:13 in prayer

I pray that God, the source of hope will fill you completely with joy and peace because you trust in Him. Then you will overflow with confident hope through the power of the Holy Spirit. 

This has been my fervernt prayer this week. I asked the Crossroads Summer Staff to pray it with me and the BRCC Womens prayer group. I think that is why my week has been radically different and good. People are circling me with that prayer. I am grateful.

Every day I feel like Oswald Chambers and John Piper are speaking to my herat when I read their devotions. The concepts of surrendering to God's call, affliction, suffering, the much more, and worthiness have all been topics lately. I feel all of them. I could talk about all of them. But I have been focusing on the much more.

" The lilies of the field grow where they are planted . Are you growing where you are planted? Are you living in the 'much more' Jesus has promised you? Am I continually separating myself from everything except which I am called to do?" Oswald Chambers

Jesus has promised to clothe, feed, and provide for us MUCH MORE than the lilies and the sparrows. Often I don't feel that I am living in that much more. I am living in need or want or feeling unknown. In Brasil I have felt unknown and uncared for often by the people I am surrounded by. That I'm not really being provided for in terms of communication, work, relationships, ect. But, as I have prayed about and thought about the much more-I am okay with those things. I am known and loved and provided for way more than I can ever know by the Lord and that is enough.

Brasil is good. I dont wake up fearful of my days, I still check every corner of my room for tarantulas when I enter my house but I know I can kill them. I am grateful for gchat, facebook, and viber. I am grateful that God is using this place and this time to show me how loved and cared for I am by him. 

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

this is a blog full of complaints. but, more-so than that-it is a blog full of hope. because even among all these complaints i am fully confident that it won't be like this forever. that is why i am writing this blog. not to complain but to be able to look back at Gods faithfulness. To set up ebenezers. To remind myself next time things are hard that things have been hard before and that this too, will be redeemed.

//we are more than conquerors headed out into this world bound by chains and broken down but his love is all around// conquerors by man in the ring

tonight, i am sad. i miss america. i miss my mom. i miss sleeping in a bed. i miss hot showers. i miss having roommates. i miss driving. i miss my life basically.

//If you try to hang on to your life, you will lose it. But if you give up your life for my sake, you will save it.// matthew 16:25

well, pretty sure thats what is happening here. 

i've been wrestling with my identity which, if you had asked me before I moved here where my identity was I would have said in Christ. I've never been one to feel as though my identty is in things or people, I've transitioned to a lot of new things a lot of times in the past 6 years and feel relatively secure in my identity in CHrist. Turns out that was not super true. Cool. As I've eagerly awaited a to-do list from Paige I have struggled to find my identity in Christ and not in being super great at beng helpful or in doing admnistrative work. Because, really, I am good at administrative things and at being helpful. In Brazil though, I'm not all that helpful or useful. I suspect it is because I can't understand what is beng said so I dont know to get the broom or to wash the dish or to put the sugar in the fridge or to get the mangos out of the pool until someone else already has and I feel like a doofus. I've realized (via Jesus and Oswald Chambers) that it's not about the doing. I can get distracted by the serving aspect of what I'm doing. I can get distracted by the label Missionary. I feel like that means I have to be super woman and learn Portuguese quickly and spend all my time holding tiny hands and exuding Christ from all my pores and loving cold showers and doing administrative stuff. Turns out, it is ALL an offering. Before I left Krsti and I ran errands together and she told me explicitly that the point of moving to Brasil was to become more like Christ. That will occur through : tiny hand holding, doing social media updates, teaching English, resting well, having long quiet times and everything else I do in a day. All of it. My identity isnt in my ability to complete a task list, but in the everything I do if I'm doing it for the Lord. 

//So here’s what I want you to do, God helping you: Take your everyday, ordinary life—your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life—and place it before God as an offering. Embracing what God does for you is the best thing you can do for him. Don’t become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking. Instead, fix your attention on God. You’ll be changed from the inside out.// Romans 12:1-2 msg version

Before I left for Brasil people were freakishly into telling me this was the right thing to do. Maybe they were more in touch with the Lord than I knew, maybe they lied to me (you cant really tell a missionary that they are making a bad life choice I guess) but, everyone was really encouraging. and that encouragement spilled over onto me. The other day Nay told me over and over she knows I can do this. She knows Ill learn Portuguese, she knows that the girls will love me, she knows that they will see Christ in me. She said give it three weeks. I'm holding loosely to that three weeks but I'm holding tightly to the hope I have in Jesus. That this hard time will be redeemed. That when I look back in 6 months and read this blog I will be different. I will be sad to leave these people and this place. I will be more like Christ after these months.

//there is a lot more adventure to be had in 6 months...it'll fly by so get ready for it.// -Melissa

Thursday, January 9, 2014

This is a little late.

I spent New Years Eve sick on the couch with my sister Megan, who I have spent the past 3 New Years with. Sometimes she was sick, sometimes I am. We tend to never make it to midnight anyway. As we laid around in our pjs we dreamed of the new year and what would happen in it. We dreamed about the weddings, travel, moving, and babies that would hopefully enter into our family this year. We talked of things God would do, and where He would show up in our lives and hearts this year. We contemplated our ONE WORD for the new year (resolutions are so last year-one word mantras are in). Neither of us could come up with a good enough word to measure our year with but we vowed to figure it out.

Over the past week I've thought a lot about my word and what I want 2014 to be dictated by. I'll spend the first 7 months of the year in Brazil and then transition into grad school and moving to Richmond in August. The words that I rolled around my heart were  Joy, Hope, and Peace. I may need to start reading the dictionary to learn more than five letter words but I really felt like those words were sinking into my heart. I actually got scared of peace - I felt like it was a word I would never be able to live up to, especially living across the equator from everything and everyone I know and love. I thought about hope as in, I am living a hopeful mindset and have hope for things to come. I didn't want my whole year to be looking forward to things to come though, I wanted to be grounded where I was even if it was hard. Then I chose Joy. Joy means I am choosing God despite my circumstances and surroundings. It means I acknowledge the hard things and remain faithful. It means I dig a deep well of joy whenever I can find a shovel because the hard days may outnumber the good ones and I better be well prepared. Joy lets me choose my actions and responses.

Two days after I chose Joy to dictate my year I was very adamantly not choosing it. I had a few hard days of being stuck indoors and wallowing around and crying. I would tell myself to fix my face and to choose joy, and then an hour later I would tell myself to choose joy again. Joy has not dug deep roots in my heart yet. Selfishness, lies, bitterness still have roots in my heart. I think this year as I abide more and more those things will be weeded out and joy will be sown deep down. That is my prayer. That I can learn deep, unchanging joy this year. I don't know what my life will look like even a week from now when I am waking up in Brazil for the first time. It may be hard. It may be lonely. I may wake up crying. But, I will choose joy. I will read love letters from my friends and family. I will trust in the God of wonder who is at work in my heart planting seeds of joy.

i am 12 days into being a married woman and i am finding more joy and more mourning than i expected. i changed my name last week and cri...