On 2015 : Scattered Piles

At the end of each year, I like to choose a phrase to summarize the previous 52 weeks well. I couldn't think of one this year.

2015 has not been sorted through and folded like fresh laundry. You will not find it stacked one atop the other or put away in its appropriate drawers. In fact, much of 2015 is still strewn across its metaphorical floor - in scattered piles. Some parts clean, some parts messy. 

Today is January 1, 2016, and my day looks like it did last year (yesterday). I slept in late, curled up with a book, and spent most of my time in bed.

I love how the dawning of one day can bring so many people together in reflection and celebration. I love that this day is today.

But for me, the effects of 2015 still run deep.

I haven't finished up a journal and lined it on my shelf. I haven't thought of all I want to do or accomplish, and I still haven't found words to describe what the year I just walked out of was like.

Writing helps me process, so here's my best attempt.

- - - - -

the red leather couch.

While living in Kona, I spent a lot of time on the red leather couch in my apartment.

Naps, meetings, game nights, prayer times, and Netflix all happened around it. When I sat there the fourth Sunday of March, ranting to my dear friend and roommate, I didn't really expect anything out of the ordinary.

I shared with her about the Lyme Disease forums I found that afternoon. She patiently listened, as she is so good at doing. I went on, telling her about how unintelligent I had been feeling lately due to these cognitive symptoms, and how glad I was to now have something to justify my feelings of stupidity with.

My friend, in all of her love and wisdom, did not let me go on.

In no more than thirteen words, she called me up out of myself and into truth. She firmly believed it was time for me to stop caring what people thought.

Until then, I lived dictated by (what I assumed were) the opinions of others. I was mostly wrong in my assumptions, but I feared it nonetheless.

I believed I had to show people I was some inspiring missionary who braved sickness and ministered effortlessly through her pains. I felt that people had to know all the details upfront, before they had a moment to judge me. 

April's words changed my life that night. I don't know if she knows that, but they did.

If there is something I have been learning since then, it's that I don't have to prove myself to anyone. At the end of the day, what God says and thinks about me is what matters most.

over curry & ice cream.

"I wanted to see the hands of God, but I saw His face and everything was changed." Our new Nepali brother and sister gathered around our lopsided table in Kathmandu, encouraging three of us missionaries.

We came to Nepal to help provide relief after the recent earthquakes, but were each struggling with ministry. The seven weeks there looked nothing like I thought. I mean, nothing.

The bowl of rice made its way around once more. They continued to share about the importance of walking in faithfulness to God.

Ministry is not about impressive stories or a pressure for testimonies. It's not about "success." It's about seeking God, and Him alone. We do not love and serve Him only to gain something in return, to email a catchy newsletter back home, or to be seen as more righteous in the eyes of men.

I almost forgot that.

Then God graciously brought this couple into my life.

They are desperate for God's presence. They long to obey Him, no matter the cost. After lunch, they asked to pray and seek Him together. We cried out to our Father, as new friends who became family over coconut curry and little scoops of ice cream. 

Ministry will sometimes take an unexpected turn. You may be told you are no longer needed. Or, you may be told there's so much more you must do.

These two helped me remember it is God we are to follow—not a manmade dream or expectation. 

resignation letter, part II.

As written in my last post, after tiresome transitions and demanding decisions, I stayed in Florida. I was rehired to work in finance for an amazing company, and finally put away some money for my savings. Financial security and benefits sounded real nice.

But I resigned for the second time just as I passed my first 90 days. As I typed together that letter, it all felt like a joke.

The week of my last day, I flew up north to begin receiving treatment. My new doctor told me he expects me to get well—words I have never heard during an appointment before. 

I don't even like using the word sickness anymore. I don't like denying it, but I don't like paying it much attention either. Yet it's there. It's there, marked up on the six medical forms I had to fill out. It's there, even when I "don't look sick," and it's affecting my life.

I made the decision to quit my job, use my savings for treatment, and take time to recover.

I have no idea what this will look like or how long it will take.

I have been launched straight into a word that aggravates my people-pleasing, perfectionist, performer penchant: rest.

There is no specific revelation I have arrived at here.

I have not mastered the art of handing burdens over to God, or not worrying about anything. There is still so much I do not pray about, or do not give thanks for. He is still weeding out the selfishness in me, the fear of being honest, the deceiving suspicion He might change His mind about me.

- - - - -

2015 holds piles here and there of stories, lessons, and memories. Many of them.

It was the year a lot was taken away. I still grieve the losses at times. I can't help but think, the removal of something gives way for something else.

My hope and prayer for this year is not for more achievements or doings. Those may happen. But I don't want to hold to the comforts of relationships, ministry, financial security, or anything else. 

I want my life to be so open to God.

I look forward to seeing how He meets people like you and me in the midst of our chaos. God, who brings order to the scattered piles. God, our peace in the storm. God, to whom deserves all the glory. He is always kind.

"So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self his being renewed day by day. For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal." - 2 Corinthians 4:16-18