Tag Archives: provision

Little Blessings Amid Big Chaos

God is funny.

Not really in the haha sense, but rather the “I am God and have everything under control and you may worry and freak out, but I’m going to be steady and provide for you in ridiculous ways” sort of way.

***

My mom’s sick.

She’s been sick for awhile and it’s been a long process of praying about whether or not I need to come be with her in America.  I would land on not coming and have peace in that decision, then she would get a little better and then she would get worse, and I would re-start the process.

Sunday I got the “you need to come home now” email.

I was on a flight that evening. It felt like a whirlwind.  Getting the tickets, getting packed, making phone calls and writing emails.  I don’t like whirlwinds.

***

I’m currently sitting in the LAX airport.

This place is so busy.  Sooo many people.  So many faces, colors, body types… and everyone, everyone, speaks English.  I feel like I’m in the twilight zone.  I’m not so eagerly anticipating the sub freezing weather that is going to welcome me home in just a few more hours.

***

Amid my whirlwind and my weird emotional state, God has been funny.

For one, He (through my precious friend Julie) has collected a supply of winter clothes for me to wear while I’m in town.  About six different ladies, two of whom I’ve never met, have given my friend Julie their clothes for me to borrow–from boots to coats to gloves to sweatpants… everything I need, and more.

God will keep me warm.

Saturday, before I knew I would be hopping on a plane, a missionary couple gave me 7000baht for babysitting their granddaughter for a week.  (That’s roughly $325…)

God will take care of my finances.

After I had already purchased my tickets, my mom went into her emergency surgery.  The surgery was successful and she came out strong.  I knew this before I got on the plane.

God will take care of my mom. God will take care of my emotional state.

And finally, on my flight from Korea to LA, the man I was sitting next to spent hours asking me questions about my life.  I shared my testimony with him and about how Jesus changed my life, I shared the journey God took me on to get me to Thailand, I talked about my mom and about my birth dad…he asked me so many questions and was thoroughly engaged.

At the end of our conversation he told me that when he was my age he wanted to be a missionary as well.  He said he was close to God at that point in his life, but that the world distracted him and he was never brave enough to actually give up his life in the world and go overseas.

He is now a successful business man, but is not walking with the Lord. His name is Joshua.

Before I left my friend sent me a couple verses from Joshua chapter 1 about how God will never leave or forsake us.  I pulled those verses out and wrote them down for him, encouraging him that it’s not too late.  He let me lay hands on him and pray for him and he experienced Father’s love.

God will use every situation that I give him permission to touch. God will prepare me with the right words.

Finally, as our conversation was drawing to an end Joshua handed me $300.  He said that he didn’t obey God and become a missionary, but he is a successful business man and so He can begin to serve God by giving.

He insisted, so I received.

God will provide for all my needs and not only that, but, God wants to bless me.

***

So here I am, waiting in busy, busy LA for my final flights to freezing, freezing Omaha to be with my mom as she recovers in the ICU, but I am able to sit here in peace. God is funny. And He really does have everything under control. He is my solid ground, even amid whirlwind craziness. He really does just love me.

***

“…so I will be with you.  I will not leave you, nor forsake you.”  Joshua 1:5

Have I not commanded you?  Be strong and be of good courage.  Do not be afraid or nor be dismayed.  For the Lord, your God, is with you wherever you go.”  Joshua 1:9

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Lessons of the Loofah

for Norma

***

In 2011, after returning from the World Race, I needed some…um, special attention?

That 11 month trip around the world altered things inside of me that I did not expect to have altered; parts of my personality were chiseled into a new version of myself and ways that I responded to situations was no longer the same.  A lot of good things came out of that whirlwind experience.  I learned the importance of using my voice, I learned some of the qualities of a good leader and I met some of my most dear friends.

I also came home from this experience incredibly depressed.

Depression, while not at all a friend, became a constant companion in my life. Beginning the last couple months of the World Race my new companion taught me how to withdrawal from relationships and shut off my emotions.

Being welcomed home by all my friends and family wasn’t an easy task.  I knew that they had missed me and I had missed them too, but with my new companion I wasn’t exactly very engaging.  No one was expecting me to bring this companion home and I wanted to avoid their questions, so for the first couple months of living in America I pretended that I came home alone.

Oddly, while I was going through the motions of christian life in America, I was also walking through the process of becoming a church planter to Thailand. Through the early stages of this process, the church leadership thought it important for me to get some help sorting through what was going on inside of me.

That’s when I met Norma.  I can remember our first meeting so vividly.  I was scared, cold and walled off; she was bright, open, full of love, light and warmth.  I felt safe.  I didn’t know Norma–had only seen her at church and heard her name, but something about her set me at ease.  I knew that with her I did not need to pretend.

So I didn’t.

I was honest about my companion and remember distinctly telling her that I don’t believe in the ‘light at the end of the tunnel.’

Somehow, the things I said to her didn’t scare her away.  She wasn’t scared of my companion, of my pain, of my mess.  Instead she loved me, listened to me and taught me.

I left America, still holding onto the fingertips of my trusty companion, but have since been able to let go completely and through a lot of grace and relearning how to trust my Papa, have been freed completely from it’s influence.

***

***

During one of our first meetings at the Tea Smith, Norma asked me what was one of the hardest things for me during the World Race.

Simple enough question…I can still write a pretty substantial list without thinking too hard, but that day, for whatever reason, I told Norma that the hardest thing for me was the incredible difficulty in finding loofahs.

In case you don’t know:

loo·fah:
ˈlo͞ofə
noun
 
  1. a coarse, fibrous cylindrical object used like a bath sponge for washing. It consists of the dried fibrous matter of the fluid-transport system of a marrowlike fruit.
  2. the tropical Old World climbing plant of the gourd family that produces these fruits, which are also edible.
 
 
Norma tucked that answer of mine–sarcastic as it may have been–and kept it in her heart, never making mention of it again.
 
 On the day of my departure from America to Amsterdam and then to Thailand Norma gave me a tearful hug and a gift bag that said not to open until my birthday, which was about four days away.  I hugged her and thanked her and boarded my plane.
 
I celebrated my birthday in Amsterdam with two good friends and there opened my gift from Norma.
 
It was a loofah.
 
My friends thought this a strange gift, but I didn’t, Norma was making sure that I would have what it was that I had lacked before.  Upon my explanation one of my friends gave me four more loofahs to take to Thailand, just in case.
 
A couple days later, when I settling into my new bedroom, I noticed the welcome note Tracy left for me on my vanity, along with a loofah.
 
 
That did it.  I had received six loofahs over a week.  I thought it incredibly hilarious, but also felt like there had to be something behind it.  So I asked Papa if He was trying to tell me something.
 
As I sat and tuned myself to His voice, I felt like He said to me:
 
 
Daughter, the things that you have lacked in the past, I am giving you now in abundance. 
 
 
I let that resonate and chose to believe it.
 
As life moved on and settling into Thailand happened, I would often catch myself believing that I live in lack, when that kind of thinking settled in, I would call myself to remember the lesson of the loofah.
 ***
 ***
I’ve lived in Thailand for a year and a half now and have received seven more loofahs from Norma.  Each time one come in the mail or is delivered by a visitor I have a good laugh to myself and thank God for His abundance.
 
Over the past couple months my storehouse of loofahs has dwindled.  We’ve had various people come live in our house for differing amounts of time and I have opened my supply to them and then forgot one at the condo we were staying at when we went to the beach.
 
I noticed last week that I only had one loofah left.
 
In the smallness of my thinking I got kind of sad.  I knew this was only a symbol of God’s provision, but if He had really spoken to me about His abundance, shouldn’t I never lack the thing He was using to speak to me?  I knew that I could go to the store and buy a new loofah when the last one was spent, but at the same time I felt like that would ruin the whole story.  (So instead I just stopped using the loofah all together in order to preserve it’s lifespan… which in reality is my feeble attempts to control the story.)
 
I know this is funny, but I was really sad about the lack of loofahs in my life
***
***
I had been awaiting a package from my gramma for a couple weeks now.  I had ordered a t-shirt and was therefore very excited to get this package.  Gramma told me that she threw in a few other goodies, but I didn’t know what to expect.
 
When I opened my package I was greeted with three ‘natural sponges’ and a new loofah.
 
What a laugh, what a gift.  What a specific gift from Papa.  Gramma had no idea about any of this, no idea about the lessons of the loofah or about my current belief of lack.  To her, she was just sending me a loofah.
 
 It’s all so silly.
But so real and special to me all the same.
 
I have no lack.
No lack of patience.  No lack of peace. No lack of creativity.  No lack of ideas.  No lack of resources.  I have no lack of relationships.  No lack of opportunities.
 
Instead, I am a daughter.  Completely loved, completely provided for.  Completely seen.  Completely known.  Completely complex and completely understood.
Completely and abundantly.
 
 
All this heart revelation and from a loofah.loofah
 
 
 
 

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