Wednesday, November 30, 2011

crazy love

" strong and courageous and DO THE WORK..."
1 chronicles 28:20

"but don't JUST listen to God's word. YOU MUST DO WHAT IT SAYS. otherwise, you are only fooling yourselves."
james 1:22 

our first year here i was uncomfortable in so many ways: learning a new language and then depending on our knowledge of that language to get (or not get) a lot of things done, learning to do things the way italians do them (harder than it sounds), lacking privacy, competency, freedom, living off other peoples money and the responsibility that goes with that, serving people that might not ever tell us thank you or that they appreciate what we're doing for them. i had to "get ok" with a lot of things. that made me grow. 

now that i'm ok with all those things. what is going to make me grow? why is it important that i am always growing? 

God sent me some answers to those questions. one of them: PRAYER. the way i pray, what i pray for, when i pray, where i pray, why i pray. i never even thought my method needed to be examined (besides the fact that i need to pray more, but that's what everyone says, right?). i have never considered the idea that the reason i am not seeing miraculous things in my life is a. because i'm not asking God to make them happen and believing they will b. i'm taking care of myself in every way possible so his miracles aren't really necessary c. i'm not praying in line with his will for this earth d. i'm not depending on prayer to survive. as i am changing those things about how i talk to God i'm seeing him work in ways i never have before.  

another: SERVICE. short and sweetly put, as i read about Jesus i see him with the poor and i am missing part of the big picture if i'm not spending time with them like he did. he lived more like the homeless than like me (rich, warm, roof over my head every night, shower every day, food stored up, money in the bank...the list goes on). we are dedicating ourselves to spending time with the poor and serve their basic needs. NOT to check this off a list of things to do to feel better about ourselves, but because this was important to Jesus and as we spend time with them we see Jesus in a different light, we understand him in a different way, we come closer to him as we experience this part of his life, this part of his mission. as we spend time with these people of his we get to tell them that the reason we want to give them food and shoes is because Jesus loves them.

another: THE WORD. in december, i will read the bible through completely for the first time in my life. i'm not saying this because i'm proud of myself, (i'm not saying any of this because i'm proud of myself, i'm not proud of myself, i'm saying this because my GOD IS AWESOME and doing ridiculous things in my life and i have to share it) the opposite is true in fact. i'm embarrassed that i have been a "christian" for 13 years and read the book on how to do that ONCE. i'm just saying that since starting that habit in january, i crave the word, i love it. i have become more thankful for that than anything else. our purpose on earth is clear when viewed through this holy book. i've heard people say that christians are scared people and hide in the bible for answers to life problems. that they don't know anything of the world we live in because they just live in a biblical fantasy. to those people, i say read it for yourself and tell me if there is anything comforting and safe about it's message for it's followers.

another: TIME. it isn't mine. it could be taken from me before i finish this post. it has never been mine, but i used to live like it was or like i didn't realize it wasn't. a lot of things were dropped from my list of priorities when this clicked.

another: FEAR. i'm a fearful person. i worry that i won't have the words for certain situations or the knowledge for others and that keeps me silent. i'm scared of what others think, what they will say. where am i letting the spirit work in that? God did not give that to me (2 timothy 1:7). knowing that i have to think: then who did? i heard a sermon by francis chan the other day where he talked about being as fearless as david in the 23rd psalm when his enemies are chasing after him and he is sitting down having dinner. that is how fearless i want to be. i want to be so fearless that WHEN God leads me through the valley of the shadow of death i will be excited to see the amazing things HE does for me instead of trying to avoid scary things altogether. when the church is fearless, the world will know God.

i'm thankful for the spirit that keeps me "uncomfortable" in this world because i know that is a part of being his disciple and i know that Jesus sent it. he told his disciples that he was sending that spirit to us and he did and i feel it and that is so comforting.

i know that everyone who reads this blog loves me and i hope you know my heart enough to know that i say these things out of a desire to live like Jesus and show him to others. that is it. i'm still making videos of the special activities we do and those are on facebook. there is just something about when i sit down to update the blog of day to day things that my hands type this information. i'm sorry to those who want a itinerary of our work here, but for some reason lately it's been really difficult for me to give that. not because we aren't busy, we're busier than ever, but because it's impossible to JUST tell you what we do and that mean anything. it's all in the little things.

thank you all for the millions of ways you love and support us, we will be forever grateful.

Friday, November 4, 2011

paint it black

we are making cards tonight because david and debbie are leaving monday for 3 weeks in the states. during those 3 weeks, debbie is having 2 italian cookings school as a fundraiser for avanti italia. she is going to sell our cards at the cooking school, along with some other things she will bring back, and some of the money will go to "the gathering".

when i was in the states i bought a block printing kit, so i carved these stamps and a few others into linoleum, we rolled acrylic paint over them and slapped them on some cards. i also made a birthday one and i'm working on a christmas one. we packaged them really cute but i forgot to take a picture of that. you get the idea.

just wanted to share my work and advertise for debbie's cooking schools. here is the link to that information if you're interested.

happy weekending.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

long train running

ryan left saturday morning for the states because his grandfather is sick and he wants to spend some time with him. please pray for ryan and his granddad and their family right now. he will come back november 15th. 
this weekend was a great encouragement though, even though i was missing ryan. we all drove to bondeno, the community where andrea is now living and working. they had a retreat for everyone in the churches of italy. it was so great to spend time with these people and get to know a few of them a lot better. there was even a family there that drove from france to be a part of everything and they were such a unique family. i was so glad to get to know them. i may even go visit them one day. 

we shared 2 huge meals together and it was really wonderful. i love spending time with this church, not only because they are great people but because it is located in the middle of nowhere. every church in italy i have been to is right in the middle of a crazy city, so i love coming to this one and sitting outside and being in nature. kids can play outside and run around and we can walk around and eat fallen pomegranates. 

kelli and i stayed together with an awesome family. they were so hospitable and warm and we loved getting to know them. the husband was also hilarious. when we took a picture with his son and the son's girlfriend in their living room he had to make sure that the white bloom from his cactus and his red geranium were behind us in the picture. kelli may even come stay with them for a time in december.                                                          
i'm an introvert by nature so the day leading up to a retreat i usually have to psyche myself up to be around people constantly, not to mention speaking italian the whole weekend. but at the end i'm always so happy and thankful for the whole experience. of course it was the same this weekend. i didn't want to leave. 

in other news, we have movie night, a youth retreat, a cooking school, a thanksgiving feast coming up. i feel my relationships with my students growing daily and i feel them sharing their hearts with me more and more every time we meet together. pray for the little interactions of everyday life and that we use those to the fullest.