Obedience And The Love Of God

Matt Chandler, pastor of the Village Church, is a beast when it comes to handling the Word. I have never listened to a sermon by him and thought, “Yeah, God didn’t use that for my sanctification.” This sermon was no different.

This morning I needed to breakaway and spend some good, long quality time with Jesus. I have been struggling with surrendering something to the Lord (maybe I’ll blog specifically about that in about a month). I felt the Lord pushing and I was like, “Yeah, I’ll be open to that God in about two years.” My prayers looked like this, “I see that you’re trying to show me something here. I am going to look at it and acknowledge it before you. I’m not going to fully give it to you, but I’m not going to take it either.” Talk about an elephant in the room…

I was convicted (a few times this week) while talking to friends who said, “Yeah, what you’re doing is not actually praying.” Or another friend who straight out said, “You’re like Jonah running from God.” Ouch. I needed it, but whew!

I went through my podcasts this morning to just break away with the Lord alone and was skimming through my Église Nouvelle Vie, Desiring God and The Village Church messages. I went to the bottom and saw, “Motivations for Obedience.” Perfect.

I think this sermon is so worth listening to especially for those of us who on our default have a hard time trusting that the Lord’s will and leading is always meant for His glory and our joy. This past week I’ve been convicted that when I’m not 100% surrendering everything to Christ I’m essentially saying He can’t be trusted. I look at the unknown with dread rather than excitement that my heavenly father wants to go on an adventure. And He is so good!

This message helped my perspective in regards to the struggle for my will be done, my view of the Lord, and was a fresh reminder that the word of God is refreshing to our souls and leads us to the abundant life.

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Woman Crush Wednesday #WCW

I was talking to a dear friend yesterday about how life is just hard sometimes. There are trials beyond measure, and those of course are promised to come. There are sin issues, which let’s be honest, we all have that leave our souls unsettled. But in the midst of that, those who have faith in Christ and have Him as their Lord, there are rays of His goodness and faithfulness. Some of those rays shine most brightly into my life through the body of Christ.

I am amazed at the Lord’s provision with Godly community in my life. Looking back from Daytona Beach Summer Project to now, the Lord has blessed me with some pretty great roommates who seek to daily love and glorify the Lord and walk through life well with other believers. So, this begins my Woman Crush Wednesday posts. I wish I was as diligent as Kristin and could keep up with the #WIWW posts, but due to my lack of motivation to be presentable for the job I don’t have, you’re stuck with my WCW blog. 😉

Today is a double whammy: LB and Elaina.

{Bless their hearts…}

Elaina, LB and I all met each other for the first time in the Windy City at our weeklong STINT briefing. Shannon, LB, Katie, and Elaina were all put in the same room and I was put in with another African team {of course that would happen to the girl with  the Little Sister Syndrome}.  So, I moved my bags into their room and we pushed the two full-sized beds together. I slept in the crack every night that week, thus commencing the development of the roommates M+E+LB style.

Y’all. We arrived in Senegal in October 2012 and moved all of our things into a small two bedroom apartment. Not wanting anyone to have to room alone {Little Sister Syndrome again}, we brought in all of our mattresses to one room and made the other room our closet. This was how large our bedroom was:

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Why yes, our beds did always look this nice. Just kidding.

And that’s how we slept the whole year, minus a week. Our beds weren’t originally positioned that way. We discovered on a day that the temperatures were well over 95 degrees F (35 Degrees C) that our air conditioning unit in the bedroom worked. There were tears of joy from the new teammates as we had all sweat through our clothes that day. We repositioned our beds so that we could all be hit in the face with frigid, and potentially dusty, air that escaped from the air conditioner that would only blow out air set at 18 Degrees C (we later learned that 18 degrees C meant 64 Degrees F and $120 in electricity bills just from using it three times). I cried later at the lost hope of not being able to use the AC due to the outrageous price.

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Some of my favorite roommate memories include getting matching jammies {they fidn’t dit}, hoarding chocolate chip cookies {they weren’t mine to share!}, watching She’s The Man {“My favorite’s Gouda!”}, being on Team Serer for the Survivor Challenge, giggling until the wee hours of the night, making music videos, making wall decor out of printer paper, and eating cheese grits in bed.

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Go team Serer!
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They brought me breakfast in bed. 🙂

While we did have a great time as a triumphant trio, I did learn so much from each of them individually.

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My all time favorite memory has to be from our team’s briefing in Chicago. It was our commissioning ceremony night, so naturally we were all dressed up. We all got to have a banquet where the Vice President of Cru came and spoke, commissioned us, and we all worshiped together. Now, before all that goodness we had a banquet dinner. The man who put my plate in front of me tipped it a little too far to the right and sauce went all over my dress. I looked at Elaina and we just laughed about it. She took her water and napkin and helped me get as much of Bessie off my dress as possible. Not even two minutes later, Elaina begins cutting her steak and all of the sudden, with angst of returning to parts of Bessie I’m sure, Elaina’s steak flies off her plate and straight into my lap. The most hilarious thing: I don’t think she realized what happened until I hysterically grabbed her arm and pointed to my lap. Oh my gosh, so funny.

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When Elaina isn’t flinging meat at people’s dresses, she has a serious side too. This past year I learned a lot about how to thrive in my relationship with Christ despite hard circumstances. We had many a pep talks this year that were to the tune of, “Mary, He hasn’t quit on you. You’re quitting on Him.” Ha, I’m not joking. Sometimes the conversations were that straightforward. But can I tell you something? That was absolutely God’s provision in my life. I need a good, hard kick in the rear sometimes. It might have been straightforward, but I know her heart was always communicating out of love. The truth hurts sometimes, if it’s fluffed up or not. I am thankful for friends who call me out of apathy, complacency, defeat and hopelessness because it shows although those places are “comfortable” they aren’t what God has called us to. I am thankful for friends who show me that passionate lives marked by zeal and adoration for Christ and His kingdom may be rare in the world but shouldn’t be rare within the body of Christ.

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And then there’s Laura Beth, LB or ElBee. 🙂 Two of my favorite memories with LB was when we went to Goree Island and of course her engagement to Tyler Staton. We walked by this beautiful turquoise blue door that we wrongfully assumed led to nowhere. I said, “LB, get in front of the door. I want to take your picture. That’d be such a great contrast with the background.” {Taking her picture is easy because she’s so beautiful.} She asked if I wanted my picture taken. I said sure, got into position, and leaned slightly against the door that led to nowhere. Boy were we wrong about that door! It was somebody’s front door. And as I begin to lean against it, on the other side a man is trying to leave his house. He opens the door and in falls a toubab, straight into his arms. Haha, manna from heaven! I apologized over and over again in French and in Wolof to make sure all my bases were covered, but the shame was there and not leaving.

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ImageMy second favorite memory with LB was getting to be a part of her engagement and taking her engagement pictures. So much fun! I love taking pictures and I forget to so often, but I was honored to be a part of their photo shoot! Again, both of them are beautiful people, so there wasn’t one bad photo.

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He put a ring on it.

I think by being a bystander to Tyler and LB’s relationship for a year taught me a lot about relationships. I’ve been able to see them work through conflict, choose to be faithful to Christ in purity, and believe the best in each other. I love how much fun they have with each other. I remember LB watching videos they took before coming on STINT. I would sit on the couch watching them with her and just love the way they interacted. I asked her what her favorite thing about their relationship was and how it was different than other relationships she had been in. She responded with, “There is freedom to be ourselves and we just think it’s funny!” Such a  grace-filled and confident answer. Some of my favorite things about LB: consistency in the word. Stable personality. Her deep laugh. Her ability to quote anything, isn’t it? 😉

I’ve loved the Lord’s provision in my life through these two women! I’ve learned a lot through you two. 🙂 Excited for where the Lord will take you and how He will use you! Excited to have front row seats!

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Too Glorious Not to Notice

So, I remembered why I wanted to update my blog frequently. I wanted to make posts daily so that my posts won’t be so long! I know reading stuff online for long periods of time gets boring, but today’s post is GREAT. So, please stick it out.

Thursday night at our CRU weekly meeting one of the campus directors came up to the front to talk about Tyson. He talked about his involvement with CRU, the accident, and how God has been healing him. We all prayed for Tyson and then sang a ton of worship song about God’s healing powers. It was a really, really overwhelming, powerful night. I felt the presence of God so much. I know everyone in that room was opened up to God’s faithfulness and love. It was super cool to see God pull His body together like that.

Friday afternoon I went to Bonnie’s house just to hang out. About an hour after being there, she gets this call from Tyson’s girlfriend Jenna. Jenna says, “Tyson’s mom walked into his room this morning and Tyson said, ‘Hi Mom.'” That’s not unusual because Tyson has started saying people’s names but normally people had to ask him questions for him to speak. Tyson didn’t just stop though with “Hi mom.” He continued talking. He was asking questions about where he was, what was wrong with him, he got all these scars, what happened, and my favorite question was, “Am I missing school?” Thursday night Tyson could only say names. Friday morning he is asking questions! REALLY!? Is this real? Yep. There’s no way I can ever deny the existence of God. This alone is proof that there is a God who hears and heals. Amazing. Here’s a picture!!!! 🙂

Thank's Bobby!!

I was talking to Bonnie the other day about people expecting God to show Himself or perform miracles before they’ll believe. The truth of the matter is, He does perform miracles everyday. He’s doing them now. We, the human race, tend to give credit for His work to others. We could say that Tyson is just a strong fighter, the doctors are just really good at what they do. So often, our eyes see what’s fleeting, and we give what’s tangible (and un-eternal) the credit. Our eyes are not seeing what is truly there. Proverbs 20:12 says, “The hearing ear and the seeing eye, the Lord has made them both.” Our eyes were created to see Him. We are blind too often. Open your eyes. See Him. See His hand working. (I’m saying this to myself too!) God is too glorious not to notice.

That’s all for now! I have a lot more I could say, but I’ll hold off for your sake! 🙂 I love you whoever you are.

To God be the Glory.

Mary