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...