there is so much that i want to write about. so much that i have already learned. i feel like someone turned on a fire hydrant and stuff is just being shoved at me and i dont really know how to digest it all. so, i decided im going to ramble. stream of conscious kinda thing...
2 nights ago we went and ate dinner with our ministry leader and partner. (thats a co-staff thai and the students that they disciple that we will be partnering with when we go on campus) as we sat there eating some really interesting food that i still dont know how i feel about, we went around and shared our testimonies and what the Lord has been doing in our hearts and lives. i had some of the most mixed emotions during that time...
my ministry partner, who is seriously one of the coolest girls i have ever met, blew me away with her dedication to the gospel. when she became a christian, her family totally cut her off from everything and she was totally on her own. when i asked her if that ever made her waver in her faith or question what she now believed she said, and with a huge smile on her face, that if she did not stay with christianity, there would be no way her family would have a hope beyond hell. that hit me like a load of bricks. seeing these people who have given everything for the sake of the Gospel is so convicting to me. i sit at school acting like its some big thing that because im a christian i shouldn't _________ whereas these girls want to give up everything because they understand the immense joy that comes in surrendering. i want a faith like theirs.
in our quiet times yesterday we read in Mark about when the Lord called his first disciples... before that though the title is 'Jesus begins his ministry' saying
"...Jesus came into Galilee, proclaiming the gospel of God and saying,
'The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand:
repent and believe in the Gospel"
that simple. repent and believe. i make it seem like its so much harder than that. but thats it. i have been called to proclaim this gospel of good news. to proclaim that all God asks is for us to repent from our sin and believe in Him.
so many times i see people who say 'im almost there i just need more time to think about it' or something along those lines in regard to becoming a christian. thats when this next section blew me away. because, even now that i am a christian, i still do that! i say, ' oh i see that thats a sin, but i just need more time before im really convicted about it or really need to repent' seriously?
"and Jesus said to them,
"Follow me and I will make you become fishers of men."
and immediately they left their nets and followed him."
immediately. not well let me decide if i feel like it then i will. not let me go say bye to my family and make sure its ok with them. not im busy doing what i want right now but i will next week when its more convenient. no. immediately they followed him. i want a faith like that.
we had our first Sabbath yesterday. i wont lie, i may or may not have shed a tear. i have never loved a worship service as much as i loved ours yesterday. our leader, matt, prayed after and thanked the Lord for giving us a small taste of what Heaven will be like and that was so true. in the service, we were gathered in a gym, that only had fans as air conditioning, in some chairs. but it was the most beautiful church i have ever seen. we all gathered and sang worship songs in Thai and in English.
"After this I looked, and behold, a great multitude that no one could number,
from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages,
standing before the throne and before the Lamb,
clothed in white robes, with palm branches in their hands,
and crying out with a loud voice,
“Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne,
and to the Lamb!”
this is all just some of what the Lord has been teaching me. its not close to all of it though. all that being said, it has definitely been hard. adjusting has been difficult. getting used to the food, the time change, the piece of cement that we sleep on, the language, and overall just the difference in cultures has been alot to figure out at once.
we also brought alot with us. or at least i did. and not physical stuff- i mean things going on in our hearts. struggles we are fighting, emotions that we dont know what they are, frustrations we have from certain things... so in the midst of working through things in my heart with the Lord on top of being thrown into this totally unknown culture has been alot for me.
luckily i have a baller roommate (and team). we were talking about this the other night and she reminded me of what Moe, one of our directors, keeps saying- that we are "in Christ". and because of that, we are more than adequate, more than able, and completely strong. its so great being reminded of that each day even though i definitely dont feel like it that majority of the time.
on a lighter note, its so fun talking to the thais! they laugh at us so hard when we butcher words. 'ba ba bo bo jing jing' is by far my favorite thing to say! it means 'very crazy'. we were talking with some of the thai girls about what music they like and one said Lady Gaga to which we all started laughing and saying 'lady gaga ba ba bo bo jing jing!!' they also LOVE taylor swift. courtney has had alot of fun telling them that she lives in the same place at tswift ha. i met one girl yesterday, djrinka who is majoring in photography. we both got out our cameras and tried** to talk about why we love it.
also last night we ate dinner again with our ministry partners last night and milcah and i ate boiled pigs feet. and our friend Pbaan ate pigs blood. when in Thailand right?
- We go onto campus for the first time today! pray for us to remember the little bit of Thai that we do, and that the Lord would give us and our ministry partners boldness is just talking to students
- Pray for our team. that we would continue getting to know each other and encouraging one another
- Praise the Lord that Matt Hill was found.
- Pray that the Lord would continue showing each of us what it is He has us to learn this summer.
we have just had our first (almost) full day! let me tell you, the past 78 hours have been quite the adventure.
we arrived at the birmingham airport at 5:30am tuesday morning only to find our first flight had mechanical difficulties and was delayed! what a great way to start our trek across the world! but, luckily they fixed it quickly and we were on our way! then it was to charlotte for an hour. then new york for 7 hours in which we prepared for the doozie. 21 hour flight from new york to singapore. from there we had another 7 hour layover in bangkok and then we finally arrived in khonkaen around 7:45pm
the 21 hour flight was crazy. there was one point where we hit some pretty bad turbulence and my friend Shelly who has never flown before said, man i really love roller coasters! because, thats what it felt like... the stomach-in-throat kind of feeling. we then looked down only to see that our ankles had gone missing and that our feet were just connected to our calves. that was a comical realization as well. and our whole team has had kankles since...
(Courtney on the L and mine of the R)
all of it was well worth it though. when we got off our final flight, most of CO-Thailand was waiting in the airport with us with a huge "Welcome to KhonKaen" sign and LOTS of smiling faces. it really did make me totally forget about my exhaustion and smell and just so thrilled to finally be there!
the thais are so welcoming and so kind. they have had so much patience with us and the language barrier. it has been SO funny trying to learn this language too... its tonal and being southern, that just makes it funny. so far most of us have learned the basics: hello/goodbye, hot, thank you, beautiful, and how to appropriately greet people. its all so fascinating.
my favorite thing so far is the food. oh my gosh that food is so good. all the fruit is so incredibly fresh and colorful, the stir fry and meet have so much flavor too. although it was strange eating sticky rice and pork on a stick for breakfast, it was SO good. we also had this fruit that taste as good as it looks. its called, ngoh (เงาะ).
and lunch was even better! their "smoothies" here are to die for. i got a watermelon one that was insanely good. tonight for dinner we are going with some students to the Night Market, so I am so excited to see what we will get there!
there is so much more i would love to ramble about but im trying to keep this short and to the point! this is just a 'how we are doing' type post. Monday is when we start going on campus and really spending time with the students. our team is so much fun and the people here are awesome so i really cannot wait to see what all the Lord has in store!
In Thailand, the religion is not too diverse. it is about 94.6% Buddhist, 4.6% Muslim, and
that, for me, is reason enough to move there for forever. but, right now, i'll just be there 8 weeks with a group of stellar people.
(Just so you know and can be specifically praying, our team consists of:
Philip Beckloff, Christine Black, Rachel Cheslik, Shelly Cooper, Richie Fordham, Luke Griffith, Katy King, MilcahKirubel, Bill Kotas, Courtney McAlister, Kathryn O'Brien, Townsend Owens, August Rhea, Taylor Steel, Laura Ruth Stubbs, and me. And we will all be lead my Matt and Erin Francisco... )
our team got together in mid-march to hang out, pray together, get to know each other, and go over logistics. in that time, my excitement grew to an indescribable level. as a team, we all sat down and discussed the things that we want to define our time there. words that we want to define how our team operates together.
service, love, flexibility, perseverance, and friendship.
that is my prayer for this week before we leave. that God would be working in each of our hearts, preparing us to be those 5 things and more. our prayer as a team is that we would be able to go to the Thai people and demonstrate the gospel to them through our actions. to show them the love, the servants heart, the perseverance, and the friendship that the Lord shows us. gosh i am so pumped!
i was reading a sermon by john piper and he was talking about the driving convictions behind foreign missions. under conviction #3, worship is the fuel and the goal of missions he said,
"if you say that you love the glory of God, the test of your authenticity is whether you love the spread of that glory among all the peoples of the world. missions is not the ultimate goal of he church. worship is. missions exists because worship doesn't. God's passion is to be known and honored and worshiped among all the peoples. to worship him is to share that passion for his supremacy among the nations"
that is the mindset i pray that i and the rest of our team keeps all summer. that we be a team made of selflessness because of the desire we each have for God to be proclaimed. my prayer is that every selfish desire in me would die because the desires for Gods glory to be seen are so great. just thinking about this is where the quote at the top plays in...
as i prepare for this summer and all that i know the Lord is going to do- i cannot help but get just giddy. oh my goodness i get so excited. its in the smallest things that i get excited too. like, ill be sitting in the kitchen eating an apple and ill just kinda start smiling because in my head im thinking, 'in 8 days ill be doing this...... in THAILAND!' its getting a little out of control.
but it really is in the smallest things that the greatest amount of joy are being seen. and that is what m prayer is for our time over there. that in the smallest things, the smallest words, the smallest actions- the the joy of Christ would overflow from our hearts to impact the Thai students, the Americans there, and each other.
to wrap this up, i'll quote piper again. later in that same sermons he got to conviction #5 which i think should just freaking pump everyone up.... Gods purpose is to be praised among all the nations CANNOT FAIL. it is an ABSOLUTELY CERTAIN PROMISE. it is going to happen. piper says:
"there are 4 reasons we can be absolutely sure that the mission for God will triumph in the world.
1. the word of Jesus is more sure than the heavens and the earth (Matthew 24:35)
2. the ransom has already been paid for all God's elect, and God did not spill the blood of his Son in vain (Revelation 5:9)
3. the glory of God is at stake and in the end, he will not share his glory with another (Isaiah 48:9-11)
4. GOD IS SOVEREIGN and can do all things and no purpose of his can be thwarted (Job 42:2)
...this kind of sovereignty we mean when we say no one, absolutely no one, can frustrate the designs of God to fulfill his missionary plans for the nations. in the darkest moments of our pain, God is hiding his explosives behind enemy lines. everything that happens in history will serve this purpose as expressed in Psalm 86:9,
'all the nations you have made
shall come and worship before you,
and shall glorify your name' "
thats powerful. that gets me excited. that is the light that seeps through a crack and brightens an entire room bringing joy to everyone it touches. that is why i have had a count down for the past 63 days. that is why i LOVE serving the God that i do.
the only way to fail at evangelism is to not do it.
yesterday i was skyping with a good friend of mine. we hadnt talked in a while and without knowing it she brought to the surface alot of sin i had been suppressing. she was telling me about some stuff she had been struggling with and very casually made the comment, "i mean, i know its just satan attacking me. like, abby, i havent gotten in the Word in 3 days! seriously?! like 3 whole days!"
um, im sorry. really? you're like the worst christian ive ever come across! (heads up, theres alot of sarcasm in here.) after, i flipped through my journal and the last time i got in the Word, i mean really got in the word was before i started this new journal. when did i start this new journal? April 5. whats today? May 8.
and to be completely honest, it hasnt been because i havent known i needed to get in the Word, or realized that i feel so dry and so empty, or anything like that. ive known that. i feel it. my soul craves it. but ive grown so apathetic. so lukewarm.
there are so many good things about growing up in a christian home. more blessings than i could ever list. but one thing that is hard about it is the callusedness that comes with the knowledge... so many times i catch myself only doing things out of duty.
in church this morning Pastor Fleyheart talked alot about duty vs. passion.
lets be real here, how many times do we go to church on Sundays out of duty? and how many times do alot of us get in the word because we know thats what good christians do? and how many times do we sit down and talk to someone and put on this face like we are doing oh so good because, like, if we are a christian than of course we wouldnt struggle with that, or we would never go more than a month without getting in the Word, and we would NEVER not want to be a "good christian". heaven forbid.
without even meaning to, by my friends pure passion to love the Lord and be in the word, she HARD CORE brought my sin to the surface. i have been going through the motions, well some of them, and totally ignoring one of the most important ones.
my heart is so eager for more of the Lord. my soul is craving the Word.
you would think that since i am being such a good christian and going all the way to Thailand this summer that the only thing on my mind would be meditation and scripture memory and journaling and doctrine and blah blah blah. no. satan has done what he does best. he has distracted me with the biggest distraction of them all.... myself.
in the sermon today he said, "if satan cannot make you overtly sin -- he makes you busy." boom. the sin i have been trying so hard to cover up. i let satan win. yet again.
when i was at LP 2 summers ago there are only 2 things (honestly, no sarcasm here) that i actually remember from the talks. one of the guys gave a talk and in it he said "being a christian, following the Lord, having a relationship with him- whatever you want to call it- its not an emotion. walking with the Lord is a decision. and once faithful to that decision, it breads a passion"
thats where im at. again. im so up and down. but im back to the decision part. i am back to the square one of making myself get in the Word. making myself pray. making myself look for ways to worship the Lord through out my day. and all the while praying that through the faithful decisions that God would re-ignite my souls deepest passion which is for Christ to be all and to be known to all.
this semester has been a struggle. and i am bogged down by sin. but its so cool that my Father is bigger than my sin. in the last part of his sermon Fleyheart said,
"when duty and love meet -- that is where grace is at its greatest"
this is why i love walking with the Lord! its truths like this that are so freeing. there are days when its strictly out of duty that i do anything "christianly" and there are other days where i am just bustin with love.. but when the duty, or faithfulness -- when someone decides to get over their "i dont feel like doing this" attitude -- is combined with an uncanny love and joy for Christ to be known, it is then that we cant help but see and understand Gods grace to us.
this is a really scattered post but this is all just racing through my head. i just think its so incredible that God wants to show grace to a sinner like me.
(to really set the mood for this post, scroll to the bottom and press play while reading!)
i am now officially a senior in college. where did the time go? sometimes it seems like yesterday i was saying goodbye and moving up to wofford and then at other times it seems like years ago i was wofford.
its funny, when you leave to go to college you have so many expectations, so many dreams. and with the exception of 2, i have done all the ones that i wanted to do. but the 2 left i will be accomplishing within the year!
after each year in college i do something to make sure i dont forget all my crazy times. freshman year i made a movie. i would post it on here but its like 17 min long and i dont want to cry.
last year though, to say it gently, was miserable. so i just journaled about it because it was a little too depressing for most to know.
but junior year. what a year.
this year i fell in love with my sorority, i made more incredible friends, i went to some awesome concerts, i tried some more random churches because they were the cool ones to go to and then realized that i absolutely love my small church here, i really screwed up... a lot, i actually enjoyed and learned some cool stuff in my classes (to incoming freshman- do go talk to your teachers. they are actually really cool)...
i did things i love more and tried not to let wether it was cool or not matter to me, i ghosted some people on campus (highly recommended), i messed up in a friendship and was called out on it... twice, i also realized after that how much friendships - especially that one- mean to me, i finally allowed myself to love auburn, i got to go visit my friends at wofford, i actually did keep up with my friends from project...
i figured out what i want to do after college (not necessarily with my life, just after college), i found like-minded friends, i got alot closer with my big sister, i re-discovered my obsession with crazy nail polish, i got in and then out of a relationship that taught me a whole lot, i learned common sense when thinking spontaneously (on most accounts...), i got accountability partners, i made friends in class, i found more fun parks...
and lastly, there is this quote that says, “I’m selfish, impatient, and a little insecure. I make mistakes, I am out of control, and at times hard to handle. But if you can’t handle me at my worst, then you sure as hell don’t deserve me at my best” i know thats a pretty dramatic quote ha, but i've found friends that do that for me. here. in auburn. and i can promise you that that is something i never thought would happen.
i have found friends that know my insecurities and encourage me in them, ones that put up with my when im at my hyperest, ones that know i am sometimes hard to handle but that still love me, ones that call me out on my selfishness, ones that love the fact that im a little out of control and aren't embarrassed by it, ones that when i am at my worst, most irritable, pissed off, stay-the-heck-away-from-me mood, they take time to break down my defense walls and just love me. i really am so blessed.
and that is what this year has been all about for me. i think that has been the learning theme this year. learning what it means to be a friend. everyone knows i could talk to a wall. everyone knows i love people. but just because i like you and can talk to you for hours on end does not mean i am a good friend to you. from the way that friends at wofford have made sure we all stay in touch, to my project friends that do the same, to my friends that are here- every day- loving, laughing, crying, playing, eating, running, building forts, going thrifting, shooting photography, making crafts, going to the airport, getting in the word, talking about boys and life after college and what we are doing with our lives and who have we become and where did the time go and on and on and on.... through all that. i know what a friend is. i know what friendship is. i may suck at it at times, but im working on it.
junior year has been great. but now i am a senior in college. what. the. heck. if senior year is half as crazy, fun, and unexpected as junior year then i am in for one good year. bring it on senioritus, i am definitely ready for you.
there is a clothing line that i LOVE. the mission statement behind it is awesome, the owner, Mrs. Muir-Taylor, is one heck of an incredible woman too. seriously, one of the most godly women i have ever come in contact with. (click HERE to go to the Nations website)
anyways, she has really encouraged me in alot of different ways. all of the clothes that her line makes have verses on the inside as a way to take the Gospel to all different people. i think it is a genius idea.... using the passions that the Lord gives you to further His kingdom? i think yes.
in trying to raise money for thailand i have been blown away by peoples generosity to give. i really am so thankful. i have also been doing alot to try to raise money. one thing that i love doing is painting... so i decided i wanted to somewhat copy Mrs. Muir-Taylors vision and use the that passion and hopefully reach some people with them.
i've been painting things for girls in my sorority, friends... and then using the money for my thailand fund. i decided to put verses on the back of each one and it has been so much fun! i love that it makes me get in the word too..
this is my latest one and i wont lie, im pretty proud!
only 21 more days till our team boards the plane!! i could NOT be more excited.