Monday, April 9, 2012

Do not be anxious...

"Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God." Philippians 4:6 (I am admitting right now that this post is long, but please stick with me. :) )

I had to start off with that particular verse, because I have a tendency to get stressed, and it takes me constantly reminding myself, that stressing, being anxious, worrying, and anything else of that nature means that I am not fully trusting God. Though I may not know the answers to a lot of things, I know I can trust Him, so I cling to that. When these kind of thoughts arise, I remind myself over and over that those feelings aren't ones He would want me to have, and I put my focus back on Him.
And, when I do trust...when I do turn my worries over to Him...when I say, "I need You, I don't know how this is going to happen, but I will not doubt"...when I lay it all down, He always provides. And each time He does, I am blown away. It never gets old. It's amazing and awesome every time.

This time is no different.

Let me give you a little of the back story...
I never considered myself to be someone that would go on a short term mission trip. Honestly, it wasn't something I thought too much about. Even when these trips were mentioned in church, I didn't think I would ever want to go. Mission trips were for other people, you know? One morning, all of this changed. After hearing a pretty amazing sermon on missions, the question of participating in a short term trip was raised...Instead of thinking "Why me?", think "Why not me?" So, I thought...It was the first time I actually took the time to really consider going on one, but several factors seemed to make it impossible. Financially it would be tough, leaving my husband and two children (who at the time were 3 and 4) would be tough, and finally because I didn't feel I would contribute anything to the team. These were my "Why not me?" answers. But, to get another opinion, I emailed our campus pastor and asked him for his thoughts. That email resulted in me signing up for my first trip. To say I was nervous was an understatement. But, the obstacles I saw in front of me became smaller and smaller. My husband offered to use his week of vacation to stay with the kids and was more than encouraging. Donations for the trip came in, and I held a few mini sessions to help cover the costs of the trip. $1400 was a lot to get in, and I will be honest and say that I never fully trusted I could reach the total. I did. It was right at the last minute, but the total was met, and one more obstacle was overcome. Still not knowing what I would contribute was something I wrestled with, but I went knowing that even if I just carried stuff, I would be used.
Was I used, yes, and the trip was amazing. That's really the only way I can use to describe it. The place, the people, the kids...AMAZING. Each day it was awesome to see what God would show or teach me. He spoke to me in so many different ways. I feel especially blessed that I was able to take pictures to capture and document the ministry we were apart of. This allowed me to see God at work in so many areas and in all of the members of our team. I was able to witness God doing big things in them and through them. I was also able to see the hearts of the team members and that was beautiful. I walked away from this trip with so much more than I could have ever imagined.
I came away knowing people believed in me enough to support me. I came away knowing I had something to contribute and that I had a purpose. I came away knowing that God calls us all to risk, and He wants us to step out in faith and trust Him. I came away from this trip with friends. I also came away from this trip with an urge to do it again.

That brings us to today...
I signed up to go back to Ecuador shortly after our return, but this time I wasn't going alone. My husband signed up too! I can't begin to tell you how excited I was about that! Anyhow, back to the the obstacles we would have to overcome. Who would sit with the kids? Who would dog/house sit? How would we raise $2800? We prayed, and those prayers were answered. My mom and dad not only offered to sit with the kids and use their vacation (on my mom's birthday), they planned a great vacation to keep the kids busy. My dad and step-mom (long haul truck drivers) offered to take their vacation so they could dog/house sit for us while we were gone. Finally, raising the money...Well, that brings us to the prayer verse in the beginning of this post. See, I have grown a lot spiritually since my first trip. And while I felt God was prompting me to go the first time, I worried and stressed about it. I knew I wanted to go into this trip with a different mindset.

I think that putting all of my concerns in God's hands brought on a lot of spiritual attacks. (Please don't cringe when you read that. I know before I started attending Savannah Christian I would have. I sort of blew it off when people would mention stuff like that, and I never thought much about the devil actually attacking the way I thought.) Anyway, placing all of my trust in God was hard. It meant it was out of my hands, and I don't like giving up control. I did the same things to raise money as I did the year before, but this time I was more confident. I proudly sent support letters to friends and family, and I once again offered mini sessions. This is where the devil attacked. Last year I offered two dates of mini sessions, and they SOLD OUT! It was great. This year...I only booked one spot. To say it was disheartening wouldn't be enough. How God? How would we meet our total, when I am not able to help. How could I go from selling out sessions to barely getting one booked. It was hard, but I turned to God. I had to. See, not only had I prayed that our total would be met, I prayed that it would be met early. It was a tall order since I met last year's smaller total at the last minute. But, that's what I asked God. I held firm to the verse in Mark 11, where is says, "Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours." I was clinging to confidence. I didn't give in to the spiritual attacks that I wouldn't make it or wasn't worth it. I honestly told God that I didn't know how it would be met, but I was trusting. I needed Him to show up...


He did it more than TWO WEEKS EARLY!

He answered every prayer and every concern.

I am in awe.

I am extremely thankful.

I honestly cried. 

I am so thankful to everyone that has contributed and prayed for us.

I love the way Philippians 4:6-7 is worded in The Message version...

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