Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Romania: The Return

The days fly by and I promised to write about my upcoming adventure which is now almost upon me!  So for those of you who keep up with my sporadic writings and have not been in the circles of the knowledge of my latest doings....

Here's the short story....on Monday I am hopping on a jet plane and taking off across the pond to spend two months in Romania!

If you wish to stay for the long story, you are most welcome!  It follows hereafter.

You may have noticed I've been talking a lot about the Lamplighter Guild.  I will be talking about it again, you may be sure!  This trip, in a way, is connected to the Guild, because God opened the door to Romania that very week in the mountains of New York!

Two years ago, I visited Romania as an intern with Rock of Hope Ministries.  Some of the memoirs of that trip can be found on this blog.  The missionaries I stayed with have a ministry to young women in one of the cities.  They take in young women from late teens to early thirties who have grown up as orphans and never received the training and skills for healthy independence.  The girls live in an apartment, with their "houseparents" right across the hall.  So they live in an atmosphere of semi-independence while gaining the security, counsel, and help of parents which they still desperately need to gain stability in life.  The missionaries help them get jobs or go back to school, learn to handle finances wisely and deal with the ins and outs of life as an adult.  They are also giving these girls the experience of family and a place as daughters in their hearts.  Above all, they point them to Jesus.

When I was in Romania the first time, I stayed in the apartment with the girls and got to be part of their daily life, to learn much about the culture and spiritual climate of Romania, and to get involved in some other ministries around the region.  I did not feel specifically drawn or called to long-term ministry in the country, but I have stayed in touch with the missionary couple.

So, while I was at the Lamplighter Guild, I saw that I had received an email from these friends in Romania.  I ignored most email and other communication that week, in order to focus solely on the projects and everything God was pouring into me during the experience.  So it wasn't until a few days after I returned from New York that I opened and read the email.  I thought my friends were just wanting to catch up with me a bit, but I never expected what they put before me.

The missionaries told me they were planning a six week trip to the States in the fall, and they had been praying about someone to come and stay with the girls currently in their program, while they are gone.  They had been following some of my doings on social media, and God put me on their heart as someone who would be a good fit for this need.  They were asking me to consider coming to stay for two months, as a sort of housemother for the girls.  I was absolutely blown away by this proposal!  It seemed like a huge deal at the beginning.  They would trust me with this kind of responsibility in a foreign country where I only spent a few weeks?  I was staggered by the hand of God, as I was just coming off the Guild week, filled to the brim with new things God was doing in my heart, in a place of fresh surrender to Him, and ready to say yes to whatever He might put before me.  I believed from the first that this was a total God thing, and although I took my time to pray and think and give my final answer, I knew right away that there was nothing legitimate keeping me from saying yes to this.

God was working on my faith during the time I was considering this opportunity.  In a short time after being asked to consider Romania, I was presented with a possibility of getting involved in Lamplighter ministries and developing my creative gifts in a venue that could open all kinds of doors!  The privilege of serving with a ministry that has so profoundly impacted my life and follows a vision that I now passionately believe in would be a dream come true!  While I sensed that God was also in this, I wondered if I would be able to take both paths.  I was hesitant to make the decision about Romania until I knew for sure what this other opportunity would entail and how the timing would work out.  As I was praying one morning about this dilemma, I sensed God telling me to move ahead in faith and give a sure yes.  If I believed He was inviting me into this opportunity to work with Him in Romania, and I knew the only thing holding me back was a need to control the direction of my own future, I needed to surrender other possibilities and hopes to Him and follow the light He was giving me at that time.  So I told God I would go to Romania.  And I gave my friends the final answer.  The very next day I finally got to touch base with someone about the Lamplighter opportunity, and it turned out I wouldn't be able to do what they had in mind because I was going to Romania.  However, that doesn't mean that door is absolutely closed.  God gave me peace that I made the right decision.  I think He has some preparation He wants to do in me while I'm in Romania, some things to teach me that I will need in the next season, whether I get to follow a new dream or something God hasn't even put on my radar yet.

So there you have the gist of it.  I leave on Monday.  The last month has been crazy and I have been fighting a lot of stress and anxiety.  I don't handle it all properly.  But I'm learning.  Jesus is using the pressure to shape me and teach me how to get into the battle and fight in His strength.  What I want above all else is to bring Him glory.  He knows our hearts and He honors those who are set on Him.

So what will I do in Romania?  My main purpose is to be a steady presence for three Romanian young women in their apartment.  I don't need to do a lot for them as much as be there as a friend and mentor, a stabilizing influence, and just do daily life with them.  Beyond that, I can participate in other ministries around the city and surrounding area.  I'll be connected with a network of other missionaries and ministry partners, so I'm not going to be entirely on my own.  And I was invited to tour Romania with another missionary for a week before my friends leave for the States!  Can you imagine how much fun I'll have with that?  More travel, new experiences, beautiful country....I'm totally up for this!

I'll work on keeping you updated along the way.  You'll see me here and on Facebook.  No doubt there will be pictures!  If you want to ask questions or chat, feel free to leave comments here or on my Facebook, or message me!  I love the ability we have to stay connected around the world!

I don't know who is reading this blog.  So let me just say, to those of you who have been or will be praying for me on this adventure, to those who have supported me financially, to those who have encouraged me in the Lord, and to those who actually read what I write here......THANK YOU!  Each of you is a gift to me and a unique part of the story God is writing.  And do you know what's even more amazing?  Not only do each one of us get to be a character in God's story, but we get to intertwine with and influence each other's parts in the Story!

So here's to all of you, my friends, my brothers and sisters in the Spirit....YOU ARE AMAZING! AND YOU ARE SO LOVED BY OUR FATHER!

Live the adventure!

Friday, September 25, 2015

Poetic Inspiration On The Back Roads

So obviously my hopefulness towards posting a prompt follow-up to my last blog never translated into action. I've been diverted from my track. Again. So I thought I would share this little slice of inspiration that came to me while meandering down the gravel tracks of my old stomping grounds.

Can I just say, it's been a great summer? Different, in a good way. The time with my grandparents has been precious. We've been through quite a season together. I have truly enjoyed the flexibility in my daily schedule, been spoiled with the space while living in my grandpa's house, and loved the opportunity to explore some of the beautiful area in the surrounding mountainous regions! I am grateful that we've been able to get my grandparents settled in a new situation now where they are receiving the care and attention they need. But honestly, I'm a little sad to see the season pass. I've lived the life of a nomad for several years now, and there's been a lot of adventure and fun and joy in the journey, but it's always a discomfiting and forlorn sort of feeling to pull up roots again and move into the unknowns of the next season. We humans work so hard to establish our little "normal" wherever we are, and we are such creatures of comfort. In fact, I'm still trying to figure out my new normal since the Lamplighter Guild and other new things God has been bringing into my life the past couple of months....and now it's all getting shaken up again!

The last month has been crazy. Moving my grandparents from a cottage to a small assisted living apartment, a hastily put-together family reunion/moving party, starting some new lifestyle habits, trying to prepare for two months with a ministry in Romania, and getting in a short visit home before I leave....I've been feeling the heat.  

The day I left my grandpa's house to come home, I was struggling to keep from getting sucked into a major funk. It didn't help that the gorgeous, warm, sunny days of late summer which I'd been milking for every last drop abruptly turned into a chilly, grey, rainy morning. It fit my emotions perfectly.

But in the mercy of my God, that day ended like this.


And the next afternoon, as I was enjoying a refreshing bike ramble down the back roads, I had a moment of inspiration. This is loosely composed and not too deeply thought out, but here you go.


Pulling up roots again on a cloud smothered morning
Sky dripping cold tears as I drive
My world grey and drizzly as if in deep mourning
Fall is too soon to arrive

But look! in the West a red sun descending
Promising joy in the journey ahead
Fear not the future at the new season’s dawning
This change is not something to dread

So climb higher, dive deeper, there’s a prize to be won
Take courage, O Traveler, keep faith
Follow the road that goes ever on
Seek first the light of the Face

For as sure as the sun rises and sets
The rain falls, and Time marches on
A glorious dawn where no shadow falls
Awaits those who follow the Son!

Thursday, September 3, 2015

Lamplighter Moments Part 2: Through The Wardrobe

Do you know the story of The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe?

It begins with four rather ordinary children, exiled from London during the war and sent to live in this huge house with an ancient professor for the summer.  Lucy, the youngest, discovers a beautiful old wardrobe in an otherwise empty room during a game of hide and seek….and she is inexplicably drawn inside.  Lucy discovers she has stepped into a whole other world….a world called Narnia.

In the course of time, all four children are drawn into Narnia and embark on the adventure of a lifetime….they find themselves in the midst of an epic struggle in a land that has long been held under an evil spell, one in which they themselves must play a key role.  Through intrigue, danger, hope, betrayal, and redemption the children journey….and in the process they are changed.  These four ordinary children become something for which they were destined but could never have imagined….kings and queens of Narnia! 

At the end of the tale, the children, now fully grown kings and queens, wise and experienced in their rule, come upon a place of long ago that seems vaguely familiar.  They stumble back into the wardrobe from whence they came and tumble out the doors, children again….only to find that almost no time has passed in our world while decades passed in Narnia!  Yet they are not the same children who first stepped through the wardrobe.  Life is never quite the same for them after that, and there are more adventures to come.  And this one statement sums it up:  “Once a king or queen in Narnia….always a king or queen in Narnia.” 

This is my story of stepping through the wardrobe. 

My Narnia is a heavenly place in the Catskill mountains of New York….the Mohonk Mountain House.  This is where I attended the Lamplighter Guild, a week that has changed my life.  As I attempt to wrestle words to the screen to express what happened to me during that week, please remember that words can only say so much.  There are some things words cannot express.  And there is far too much in my heart to ever tell the full of it!  But I seek to proclaim the glory of the Lord with my life and my words, to the best of my ability, so that others may be drawn to Him!

This is a teaser.  I know my readers have busy lives.  Even someone like me, who appreciates many of the engaging, insightful writers out there in Blog Land, only has so much time to spend reading articles and things online, and I know that a long post looks laborious to read and makes a person wants to pass it by.  So for now I will leave you with this introduction, and maybe you’ll want to come back later and read the next installment, which I will hopefully have written in the next few days! 

I hope you’ll come back soon.  To borrow unashamedly from the best….namely Lamplighter Theatre….”you’re always welcome here!”