Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Let My Life Be The Proof of YOUR Love

  Sometimes I really realize how big of a hypocrite I can be sometimes...
For the past few days/weeks I've been antsy about this Tuesday night's first Bible study of the summer that I organize and lead.  I feel under prepared as opposed to where I should be and I sure hope that SOMEbody comes... I've been really nerve-wrecked.

  In the chaos of nerves, I admitted that I have not been spending the time with God that I've needed to in order for my soul to be fed and quenched of thirst.  It took a long time for me to do anything about it though.  Finally, on Sunday morning, I decided that I don't need refined sugars in my life for a little while.  It's not good for me, and it's distracting from my walk in even the minor of cases.  So away with it! And in its place, I decided that with the mere thought of sugar, I would dive into my Bible until I no longer felt hunger pains for refined and artificial sugars!  Yesterday, for example, I started reading Daniel - which I have never actually read in its entirety!!!  Bad Bible student, bad!  But I have REALLY been enjoying my time with God through Scripture, I can feel my soul getting stronger again.  This is a really good thing!  One of the things I like to do (and that I feel is necessary for me for Spiritual growth) is to get rid of all of my own earth music for a couple of days and only fill my ears with the message of God's hope and love, and praises!  A song that has really captivated me in its truth is "The Proof of Your Love" by for King and Country. They are a Christian rock band from Australia.  The message of this song is this: If I do everything in the name of God; if I help everyone who needs help; if I reach out to those who need Him; if I take the Gospel into the mountains; if I do anything at all for the glory of God - but I do not have love in my heart like Christ's for ALL people, then I just ruined a LOT of things, and I more poor than the poorest of these that I've served.  Hot dang!  If I do all this, but I don't show Christ in my life, I'm not doing too much good at all.

  All throughout Scripture you hear about how love is the most important out of everything God has given us.  In Greek, love is so important to define hat there are an unbelievable five words that sound similar but all describe a different kind of love from the others.  In English, we have ..."love."  And that's it.  We treat it like it's all the same too: premarital sex because two "love each other"; adultery and extramarital affairs because "I love my wife or husband, but they don't meet all my needs and therefore, I need to find love elsewhere." THIS IS NOOOOOOT LOVE - NOT love.  That is all sex - that is not love.  Love in the physical form is this: a man and woman made for each other love each other so much that they respect each others bodies, and hold each other over themself.  They do not seek out evil of this world (like in 1 Corinthians 13) and do not disgrace the design God made them to be as pure, Christ-filled, God-honoring beings.  They remain abstinent until they are joined in marriage in front of God.  Once they are married, they have a new respect for each other's bodies and continue to honor each other over themselves.  They are truly in love with each other to commit their life together into God's hands, and respect one another in love to honor the gift God has given them. THAT IS LOVE!  Not this screwy "I love so-and-so so we are going to move in together and do marry people things because we don't think committing to marriage is necessary." That is a lame excuse for your wrongdoing.


  Why am I a hypocrite? Not because of what I just said - that is sound REAL Christian (Christ-following) doctrine.  But because I listen to this song by for King and Country all the way from work up to the Rooster.  I have been prepping myself and praying all day for guidance and wisdom, open hearts and open minds, and on the way uptown, I listen to, "Let my life be the proof - the proof of Your love.  Let my love look like You and what You're made of; how You lived, how You died - Love is sacrifice...." And I had just gotten done with practicing tonight's lesson in my office explaining how we are to be more like Christ and remember the example He had shown.  I'm walking up the sidewalk towards a stop sign and there are these two boys in their car with the stereo and bass blasting, rattling every nook and cranny of their poor shabby car.  They look out the window and I see a red lanyard hanging from their rear view mirror (indicating they are either in high school, or just graduated) and they roll down the window and pretend to be wrapping the lyrics to me - like they're going to impress me or something.  And I think, "hoodlums," roll my eyes at them and walk the other way.


  After everything I've been praying for, and everything I've been singing about, I let a chance go by where I should have ran up to their car and asked if they were high school graduates, then invited them to Bible study - THAT would have been Christ's love in me!!!  But no, I had to be like the rest of the world :(

Take a gander at this song and see how it convicts you of being the way you are.  REMEMBER: you must find YOUR error first, then work on it OVER TIME before you can immediately jump down someone else's throat about how THEY could learn a lesson ;)

God is good all the time; and all the time, God is good. :)


Saturday, May 26, 2012

Between A Rock and A Hard Place...

  Have you ever felt like this?
Like you're between a figurative rock and a hard place?  Do you get the feeling that you're hanging on to the wrecking ball as it smashes you between two places you really don't want to be?

............Well that's how I'm feeling about a lot of things right now.... :(

Please pray for me as I learn over the coming months how hard it is going to be to confront issues that I never thought I'd have to face.  In being vague, I can explain to you this much: I get to feeling like people use me as their surrogate response to others they'd rather not associate with.  The mature way that I would choose to handle situations as my own adult seems to have too many "loop holes" and therefore isn't a valid response... But as I look through my own intellect and understanding with the peoples in question, I start to realize that I would never treat anybody like that.  I start realizing that the words being put into my mouth are not my own, but it feels like they are the ones that 'need' to be said... Do you ever feel like that?

I have a lot of BIG decisions to make over the next few months for many reasons... And I feel like they are going to be hard decisions to make...

Please keep me in your prayers for now :S

Also, I don't entirely feel like I've been paying God a whole lot of attention, and yet I complain on the sideline about how alone I feel... I do feel that way, but maybe that's because I haven't been relying on God for that companionship :/ I realize this, and yet I deny opportunity after opportunity to spend any time with Him at all.  It's not okay, but you know... It's hard to pull myself up to that...

Well if you've read, thanks for reading.  I know, I need to start talking about things that are happier and more important soon like I started off with, my bad, you guys :))


Friday, May 25, 2012

Quality Time Lover

  If you've ever heard of the Five Love Languages based off of a book written by Gary Chapman, then you understand already that there are differences in the ways people naturally approach the way they show affection.

  If you aren't very clear on what I'm talking about, let me explain: the five 'love languages' are Words of Affirmation (depending and relying on words to say every emotion you need to get out to someone and also expecting words to be what validates you in other's eyes); Quality Time (the way you show love to your friends and others is through spending a good time with them and be actively involved in what they have going on while also hoping people would want to spend good time with you because they care about what goes on with you too); Gifts (you know just what to get for someone that you know will make them smile and you love receiving gifts because it helps you understand that people pay so much attention to you, they just know you would love what they give you); Acts of Service (you think that showing people you would do anything for them means that they understand how important they are to you and how much you value them, while people wanting to serve you in whatever way they can means the same in return - all of this without expectation); and Physical Touch (you love letting people know you want to comfort them with hugs and putting your arm around them, and whatnot. It shows a level of comfort you have with that person in order to make them feel better, and when you need love from a friend, you just want a bunch of hugs and high fives).

  Now that everyone is clear on each of them, I'll explain that with each love language, people yearn to be reciprocated, meaning that if I show you love [this way] I would appreciate it if you could let me know that you love me in that same way.  In other words, lets say I'm a gift giver and my best friend is a words of affirmation; if I tell my best friend, "Good job on the personal project you've been working on!  It looks so good, and I can tell you really poured yourself into it!  You are so good at what you do!"  I can pour into her/him and show affection to them through their love language, because I understand that's how they feel worthy.  Afterwords, being a gift giver, I take him/her out to their favorite restaurant and but them whatever they like - this is me giving my best friend the thing he or she loves the most through my love language.  My reciprocated hope is that if I was to ever put myself to work on something I really wanted to accomplish, I would love to be shown affection in my love language - maybe recieving a gift, or someone making a prize for me, or taking me out to my favorite restaurant.  You see, love languages are hard to master - there's so much to think about!  You need to consider what every person finds self-worth from, find ideas that they would love if you wanted to show them you care, and remember to show them affection through your own love language as well - lots to keep up with.  But you will be stellar surprised at how happy you can make someone by showing them they are special to you through their love language.

  So why am I telling you all of this?  Well.. this week I've felt a little alone... :( people have talked to me, yes, people have met me for lunch, yes.  But the people I spend most of my life around seem to have so many other personal plans in their lives that I feel like I'm simply there because I always have been.  I have never been one to be the center of attnetion - don't get me wrong, I'd rather not be at the center.  But sometimes, I feel like I pour all of my energy into making others feel good about themselves, and I hardly get the recriprocated affection.  My love language is quality time.  I love getting to know people more and more and more and letting them know how interested I really am in what they have going on.  This language of mine has helped me to mentor people, do some degree of counseling to friends and family who just need someone to talk to.  I have a great time planning events and Bible studies where I get to spend good time with people and learn about where they came from and what God's doing in their life... But I always feel like I  am the one who sets times and dates up for me to meet with people, or even spend time with those closest to me, because no one else really does that sort of thing.  I feel that it's only me who cares about  staying in touch with people, and spending quality time with the ones I love, but I don't feel sometimes like I get that same care back - very few attempt to spend time with me unless I prompt them to hang out or doing something fun.  It's so hard to deal with that sometimes...

  Don't get me wrong - I understnad that the way everyone shows affection is different from the way I do it.  But my thing is this: I figure out the things they love and make sure to show others through their love launguage how much they mean to me, but it's like no one really notices that I want that same affection back through my own love language for a change.  Maybe I'm just rambling... Maybe you can point out how I'm being unreasonable and whatnot, and maybe you can point out all that has  been done for me.  I'm not overlooking any of that, and appreciate it all very much!  But everyone understands what it's like for negative feelings to build up over time.  It's so much easier to look at how bad you can feel and not look so much at the things that can go right :) But for me, lately, I feel like little things have been building and building and building, and not as much effort has been put out by many people to balance out my feelings.  Everyone close in my life seems to have so many other things on their agenda that they would rather do than meet me at my point of longing...

  I don't know, just rambling... But anyways, I don't really know what you can actually learn this time, other than how to truly love someone (and I'm not talking about sex.) with them in mind.  Overall, I just wanted to waste this space on me complaining more than anything, sorry guys...


Tuesday, May 22, 2012

The Conflict With Conflict...

Nobody seems to know how to handle it...

  Recently, I've been experiencing a lot of conflict with family members, and sidelining conflict between some of my high school friends.  Something I have learned in my early years of adulthood: no one really understands what it means to handle conflict like an adult.  This whole 'picking sides' and what not is for fifth graders (I beg your pardon fifth graders, but unfortunately, I kow college students and parents who act just like you).  It's really sad, and quite frustrating.  I can say that I haven't always been great at it myself, but I can say for myself that I knew I didn't know how to handle conflict so I sought help on how to do it. 

  Before college, I tended to think of myself as a sort of 'peacemaker' and avoided conflict completely.  If a problem arose, I ignored it in hopes that it would resolve on its own.  If conlict arose between my friends, I took the place of the mediator and didn't get too involved, accept to give advice to both 'parties'.  I thought this was the way to do it, because I never felt stress from handling a situation.  However, I recognized that these actions only made things worse. 

First thing...
  What I learned through much trial and error is that the best way to resolve conflict is lay everything out on the table at once and work through it then and there.  The longer you draw it out, the worse it hurts, and the longer it will take to mend.  I know people who are like this; they don't want to have to deal with whatever the problem is and "just want it to go away!" Well the best thing for them to do that they don't realize is just face it!!  Let's say you get sick.  You have this nasty fungus-looking rash developing all over your body; your fever is 105 and rising, vomitting becomes your meal every day, and you are so dehydrated.  You feel like dying would be the only way out and all you can say is, "I just want it to go away!"  Well.  Go to the doctor.  You should have done this a long time ago before the rash even started to develop.  Get some medication.  If you had only used common sense and sought out what could have helped you at first, you wouldn't have a high brain-damaging fever, and icky scars left from the fungus-looking rash on your skin.  You would have also had much more time to spend doing the things you love doing since you healed faster.  But instead, you wallowed in the misery of how bad you felt and simply figured that wishing it to go away would be enough to help.  You were dead wrong.  Similarly, when there is a problem that arises between you and another person, or other people, the LAST thing you should do is simply will it away, expecting things to just solve themselves. 
  A few months later, a year later, a few years later, and so on, where are you at in that conflict?  Is the relationship with that person dead because you couldn't muster the confidence to confront them or deal with the problem? Are you having to find 'replacements' for the people you cut out of your life thinking that would solve the problem?  And how do you feel about it?...

Second thing...
  Supressing the feelings you have about these situations can lead to anxiety and panic.  I have a moderate case of anxiety disorder.  I have been having panic attacks at least once a month since I was in eighth grade.  There were times in high school (a friend can vouge for me on this) where I would have to leave class multiple times a week because I felt a panic attack working its way to the surface.  Before college, it was always a bit difficult for me to handle my emotions (not because I'm a girl) but because I didn't know how to handle them.  Every feeling I had that was linked to conflict I supressed to the point that it was hurting me physically.  Had I faced the conflict while it was beginning and before it got out of hand, I would probably be a much stronger person now than I am.  I guess we'll never know.  Conflict is something that happens EVERY day to EVERYone - ain't no way you can just avoid it or ignore it without it backfiring on YOU!  We think that ignoring everything that's going on is a sign of lashing out at another person, but they don't have to deal with the anxiety and stress that you're putting upon yourself.  If you would only muster the courage...

Third thing...
  Something we must all start to get our mindsets wrapped around is this: a fight should not be between people; a fight should be between the people and the problem.  In other words, instead of fighting each other, work together to fight the problem.  Easier said than done, I know, but it CAN and must be done.  What we have to truly realize and accept is this: when there is a problem between two people, the fault does not solely lie with one person.  Fault is found in BOTH people.  We are very quick to justify our position as to why we are right, and they are wrong.  You're both wrong.  If one of you was right, there wouldn't be a conflict, would there? Think about that.  Conflict doesn't go one way, it goes in both directions.  Something I have been learning about this point is to look into my own heart and find what MY motives are in conflict.  If I find something wrong with someone else, where am I at fault that is making me see them this way?  Now I know that those of you who read this will automatically think, "so-and-so should really read this, they could use a lesson.."  Well why are you saying that? What's YOUR problem, sir or ma'am?    Why is it them that has to read it and learn? What exactly are you learning? Obviously, someone has a little more growing up to do, don't they?  Obviously you are just as much in the wrong as they are for even thinking that you don't need to hear this as much as someone else.  You must learn exactly what is wrong with your own heart before you can critique and condemn someone else for what's wrong with them.  Want Scripture?  Jesus, himself said, "Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother's eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, 'Let me take the speck out of your eye,' when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother's eye." (Matthew 7:3-5) Even Jesus commands us to take care of our own problems before we worry about someone else and what we think is so wrong with them.  He calls us hypocrites in knowing that we think someone else is so much more in the wrong than we are.

  I understand that it is hard to learn how to gather this sort of confidence, courage, and reasoning because it makes us feel so vulnerable - and often we are!  But if God didn't create us to feel vulnerable, do you think we'd be living on earth? There's a reason He made us less than Him - so that we can rely on Him, not ourselves or our friends.  I will share that, for my entire first year of college, I recognized these problems within myself and I went to counselling every week or two.  I got a lot out of my system, weeded out the parts of my past that bring me down, confronted myself on how rediculous I could be, practiced how to argue fairly, and see reasoning in conflict and where I made my mistake within it.  I learned a LOT a lot a lot about working through conflict and resolving it.  I'm not perfect, and I don't know it all, but I feel like learning these lessons helped me enter my 'coming of age' into adulthood.  It makes me really sad, and a bit perturbed, to think that a few of my friends and even family members can't act more like adults when it comes to conflict.  There's nothing shameful about admitting you need help; going to a counselor doesn't mean there is something wrong with you, it means that there is something right within you that you want to seek out and grow; being vulnerable and crying doesn't make you any less human than using the bathroom; facing a conflict when you'd rather just ignore it shows how you are getting stronger, and the maturity you claim to have is truly showing.  Seek God, and GET IT ALL OUT!  You cannot, and I repeat: cannot, expect conflict to just go away because you 'want it to' or you 'wish it would' - you can respond to your own wish by just learning to face it.  Practice in small and big situations confronting people, and working together through the problem, explaining your side and understnading theirs, working through every detail in order to find a solution, find forgiveness and eventually, reconciliation.  Seek help if you need it, find your faults, don't blame everyone else, and don't supress anything!  The faster you work through this, the less damage it will do, and the stronger you will be ing the end. 


Thursday, May 17, 2012

Nerves For the Summer

  Last summer, I led a Bible study for college-age people (young adults) and it wen t really well!!  I was so pleased to see the work God could do through me and through others there that were learning how to walk with Him!  Of course, to start the summer off, I was nervous (REALLY NERVOUS) because I had never led anything like that before; I had always been a participant, never a leader.  Well as the summer went on, I became comfortable with the idea that it's not my nerves I should focus on, but let God focus on molding me so that He can mold others.  It was such a wonderful growing experience, and I learned SO MUCH about myself, patience, and endurance that God can give if I ask Him for it. 

  Over the past schoolyear, I have had very minor ministry, working with Jr. High School students (5 of them) and two to four college age students (half of which are typically inconsistent).  I have spent time on my own qith God, and rarely planned anything for Sunday mornings because half the time I was the only one there.  It's been so hard and trying to learn this aspect of ministry: things really AREN'T going to go the way you'd want them to go.  It sucks.  So as my hours went down, I started thinking ahead on what I could do for the summer. Yay! right? Well as the peak of the semester rolled through my schedule, I put EVERYthing to do with college ministry on the backburner... bad move, Jess.  I didn't set up any lessons, I never got together with the praise band, I didn't keep in touch with the pastor about Sunday night services, I rarely talked to the youth pastor about Tuesday night Bible studies, I haven't had any mentoring time with the college girls I commited to mentoring, and so on.  I was focused on my 40-hour work weeks, three online classes, house resposibilities, and a boyfriend (now fiance) in another city an hour and a half away.  I was SO overwhelmed!  And once the smoke began to clear, I took a breath wondering why nothing else was goin on when I realized, "Oh crap!  It's been MONTHS since I last planned for ministry!!! How did I let this happen!?"  You see, the thing about ministry that I have learned in my short time on the field is this: if you are called, you better devote your WHOLE life to that calling.  Ministry is NOT a part-time or half-time thing; it is FULL time, and if you are called to it, you better be willing to dedicate all of your time to fulfilling that duty God has given you.  I did not keep this in mind, and now I am in about an inch of doodoo (not too deep, but enough to not be good). 

  This summer, I had started making plans to meet the Lighthouse Bible study at the Rooster, like last year, on Tuesday nights and go over the book of James with other Thirst quenchers throughout the Word.  I haven't made but ONE lesson for the whole summer so far, and I should have at least FOUR done already, if not more.  I also made plans ONCE with the leader of the praise band to have Sunday night worhsip services for my college group.  I haven't talked with him about it since early March... I also wanted to do some local mission work with the Bible study group (i.e. soup kitchen, habitat for humanity, etc.) but I haven't even MENTIONED these ideas to the woman who would be able to get me scheduled at these places.  I have hardly done much work beyond what I've already done to improve upon the ministry God has blessed be and entrusted me with.  I know that, with as awesome and almighty as He is, He will be able to use the ministry I have independent of the works that I do.  But it's still a discouraging thought that I could have done more, but didn't.

  I need prayer and encouragement for this summer for many reasons - most of them listed.  To go along with all of this, the few people that were regulars last summer (the ones who weren't afraid to speak up and give their input and answer/ ask questions) will be staying in their designated college towns for the summer.  I hope that God is able to speak to whoever comes and that new 'leaders' in the group will come out.  This will be my last summer leading this particular Bible study (I'm getting married!!!) and I don't want to leave without knowing that someone strong in their faith that has a heart for God's people will continue this great ministry and pass it on when they leave.  PLEASE pray for all of these things, prayer is so powerful, and I'm having a hard time with it.  Thanks for reading.  And if you would like to join our group this summer for fellowshipping and communion with God, learning more about His heart for us, and learning how to walk closer to Him, leave a comment and let me know :) I'll be glad to give you more details about our meetings!  I know God will pull me together before our first meeting, and I kow that the summer is in His hands... I just need encouragement.


Tuesday, May 15, 2012

I'm Engaged! :DDD

As of Saturday, May 12, 2012 around 8:45ish, Frank and I are officially engaged!!!!!!! :D
At the moment, we are looking at Monday, January 7, 2013 as the big day! :))  I'll be sure to keep whoever reads this posted on details, and also, in coming posts, I'll provide detail on how he asked ^_^ Just know that this is SO exciting for me, it's a nervous experience, but one I'm glad to have :) It took me by surprise, and to whom ever actually read my more recent posts and prayed for me, thank you ;)  Continue praying for us as the new school year comes with higher tuition than before, and work that needs to be found while we plan a wedding togetther! :D


Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Prayer for a Matter of Time

  As some of you hopefully already know, there are a lot of BIG plans that have been popping up in my life that have yet to actually happen.  I haven't shared much about what these things are, so here are the briefs: provision, school, marriage, Sweden.  There's a lot to go with each, so I'll explain a brief few sentences for each.  Keep in mind that, with each event, I will need your most sincere prayers for guidance, wisdom, and discernment.

  Provision.  School.  These can go together since one leads to the other.  Last semester was a terrible semester for me.  I went to a local technical college where the general student population either smoked pot or were too 'thug' to recognize a white girl walking by.  I was lonely, I lived at home again - which was hard after a year of independence - and I couldn't find a job.  Seeing as Frank and I had plans (listed below) that we were working for, and my wanting to get back to school in the Fall of 2012, I was feeling pretty discouraged and began thinking that maybe I wasn;t ever suppossed to go back to school, and maybe my true calling was supposed to be flipping burgers or something like that, "someone's got to do it," I thought often.  After so much praying and so much stress and confusion about what to do, my mom being no help as she felt she knew what I was supposed to do more than I did, I was on the edge of giving up when... November rolls around.  It was the last week of November and a cuople from church had asked me to watch their house and dogs while they and their neighbors were away on vacation.  Of course I accepted, I had nothing else to do, so why not? A few weeks later, dreading the fact that I would have to be in Hartsville for yet another semester, I get a call from the man of this family, "Hey Jessica, would you like a job at [this corporation]?" I'm like, "Yes!  Of course!"  And withing 5 days, I had been pushed through the temp agency, contacted by my soon-supervisor, and put behind a desk at this company. Dang!  And what's better is the amount of money I make weekly - enough to pay off my loans, start saving up for tuition next school year, and start saving for a wedding!!  Amazing!  Weeks after that, I get a call from my church saying that they wanted to donate a large matching grant for my school year next year to help me pay for tuition!  Amazing!  After all that time thinking that I would never be able to amount to anything I had ever hoped to be because that wasn't where my calling would lie, I felt that God really was taking care of me, and He had had me in His hands the whole time.  It's a great feeling.  I really really really need prayer in that I learn how to be a better steward with my money, and thank Him for being so faithful!  I'll talk in another blog about feeling like has left you or is hiding from you and won't help you or listen to your prayers.  God has poured encouragement and comfort into me, not so that I can hold it all in for myself, but so that I can pour into someone else who needs it.

  Marriage.  WHAT!?  You might say.  Well since a few weeks after Frank and I began 'officially' dating, we were together for New Year's 2011.  Before the ball dropped, Frank slipped something about time and how it goes to slow.  I asked him what he meant and, not being very good at hiding things especially once they're revealed, said something about wanting to marry me.  Phew!  That was such an exciting moment and my stomach felt that kind of nervous warm.  A few months before then, I told him that when I was an old lady - as long as I didn't truly have alzheimer's - I wanted to make all of my children and grandchildren believe that their grandparents had gone senile.  I always think that would be a great laugh with my husband at that old age, and so I asked Frank if he would go senile with me.  That was Thanksgiving break 2010.  Since then, plans have started churning as we've realized that the other is serious about this proposal for marriage.  It's been tough watching friends of ours, or just random people we know, start dating far after us, become engaged and then get married in the long time we have been dating and planning.  It's a happy and wonderful thing, yes!  But sometimes it's disheartening because we've had to wait for so long and spend so much time apart over the past year.  However, this time apart, as hard as it has truly been, has shown through some of the darkest moments in our relationship.  The worst is over and we're running towards the home stretch!  Over the next few months, I'll be waiting for the moment when Frank actually asks me to be his bride.  I'm so nervous!  And it is the ONLY thing that I am not aware of in this whole process, so I'm really excited too!  Marriage isn't too far from here, possibly only another 9 months... So.  Please pray that Frank and I will be able to continue growing through and towards the moment at the altar, that God would remain and continue to be the center of our lives and of our relationship, and that His provision would come through as we prepare for that day.  Also, pray that I will keep calm and patient as I await to be asked! ;)  I would have saved this best for last, but it's easier to explain everything else once you know our plans...

  Sweden.  Back around September/October 2011, Frank and decided that we would not talk about missions and calling for a few weeks, but rather talk to God about it.  We decided that, if we are to be called together to a particular plain on the mission field, we should seek God as individuals.  If we are to be called anywhere other than the United States, we made lists of places (countries, regions, etc.) outside the US that we felt God was putting on our hearts for prayer.  Our goal was to bring these condensed lists together and see which countries we feel like we need to pursue in prayer and then, if we felt called, in service.  The weekend came that we were to pull out our list of countries, regions, and cities from the US and the rest of the world that we felt had been put on our hearts.  Without talking about it EVER before, Sweden was the first one that had been on our hearts in our pursuit of God's calling.  Among the others in the top five similarities were Denmark, France, London, and Urban America.  Crazy, right?  After that, we decided that we should take this pursual slowly as to not burn out or read in to it more than we were intended.  We continued to learn privately and together about the spiritual need of Sweden, and different cultural occurances over recent years that help to explains the overall need of the country.  Sweden is very spiritually dark; the government has been ruled by the church for over four centuries.  You would think that's great, right? Well all the people know of Christianity and a relationship with God is encumbered in their idea of the government; going to church is the only thing that makes you a Christian.  In the census of 2010, it was recorded that 53% of Swedish residents considered themselves to be Christians.  Recorded in Operation World 2010, less than 5% of the supposed Christians have a true relationship with God, and less than 2% of that are evangelicals!  The idea of Christ is no more than an idea of a man to the vast majority of the country, but there is hope.  In January, Frank walked by a stand for TEAM (The Evangelical Alliance Mission) and low and behold, Sweden was listed on the front.  We got in touch with the local TEAM representative, Carl Peklenk, and have been discussing future plans to join the missionaries there and see if Sweden is our definite calling.  We understand that Sweden might only ever be short term, and we could also be called somewhere else, but for now, we are going to pursue this, and evidently we need your prayer.  Pray for the heart and minds of Swedes who need Him, pray for us as we work towards this Holy adventure, and pray for provision in multiple ways as we seek God for help.

  So this was a really long one... If you've kept up this long - or if you've even started reading it - thanks!  I hope you enjoy knowing about the big things in my life and how God is really working in it.  Please keep me in your prayers, and please please please feel free to leave a comment!!!  I never get those and I really love them :)