And So It Continues…

What an adventure this life is. I’m in awe- living gloriously meditating on Isaiah 53 and Galatians 2:20 and Romans 8:1. Guys, it’s right there. The gospel. It’s all I need and that’s marvelous. His love is marvelous.

The timeline of my life is so out of my hands and I’m loving that right now. May 5th I arrived in the USA. School started with intensity on the 12th and continued through July 28th. Then followed a few weeks of quiet with lots of crazy thrown in. I got a job, started orienting and then – boom! – school started again. Two weeks ago classes began again. It’s been over a week and I’m totally in over my head, but swimming along.

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Rich Blessings

Oh friends  — I have been blessed so richly!

I think that part of me felt like coming here, to the USA, to a university town and to an apartment with roommates where I was paying rent and all of those grown-up, independent type things, was going to be more of an isolating time. I was going to be forced to do things on my own, to rely upon myself more than I like, and that it would be hard. But no… but no, the Heavenly Father has been lavish with His blessings.

Friends – some dear, dear people whom I got to meet during the first weekend of my return, were just the spark my soul needed to begin this new mission. And then, as they left for another adventure in another state, we got to meet yet another dear, sweet couple, who have taken me under their wing. Oh, it’s wonderful. And all of the spices and sauces and the chili oil… she said, “you like to cook, you like to host large groups of people, you can use these things that were left…”

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So we had a happy crowd over for dinner on Sunday and it was marvelous. Rice and curry and delicious things – precious gifts, palate-pleasing soul-blessings. Having Jeremy in the same little corner of this city is a crazy-wonderful thing that I could go on and on about. He brings his friends and I bring mine and then we sit around a table eating spicy and loving Jesus.

Jeremy even bough 50lbs of rice. So the hosting will go on and on.

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Grandparents just an hour away – it’s incredible. What wondrous love is this, oh my soul? That the Heavenly Father would see fit to bless me with these things? Nana bought me tea in England. Um. Let me repeat that. Nana bought me tea in England. And then she lent me Great Grandma’s teapot. So teatime? It’s at my place. Just come – the door is always open and I can put the kettle on in a jiffy!

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So I as read the passage below – the promise and the command, I am overwhelmed because it’s huge. It’s a calling, and one in righteousness, oh, wow… I do not deserve this. And yet You, Lord, have been sin on my behalf, and so I can. Oh, sacred head now wounded! And so He calls, and He holds, and He watches over… and then He appoints. Because He is the Lord – that is His name! Glory, glory, glory…

“I am the LORD, I have called you in righteousness,

I will also hold you by the hand and watch over you,

And I will appoint you as a covenant to the people,

As a light to the nations,

To open blind eyes, to bring out prisoners from the dungeon

And those who dwell in darkness from the prison.

I am the Lord, that is My name;

I will not give My glory to another,

Nor My praise to graven images.

Isaiah 42:6-8

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How have you been richly blessed?

What Wondrous Love is this, Oh My Soul!

It was a few weeks ago, as I sat at a desk in someone else’s home, studying for my final exam, when the rain started to drizzle down, then pour.

For weeks and weeks I had been out of my apartment, repairs/renovation/youdon’twanttoknow were going on and a move-back-in date was uncertain. So there I was, sitting in another person’s home, probably my seventh “home” since arriving in the USA from China just a few months ago. And it felt so good.

A gift, Lord. You are so good – so kind! – to me.

For years, probably forever, one of my mini, selfish priorities has been comfort. I like a comfortable bed, a pillow, a place to call my own and ideally some convenience and predictability. But lately, the Good Father has been teaching me that He is enough. So much more than enough. Unfathomably sufficient. All I need.

And in the richness of His kindness He gently stripped away layers of protection around what I thought was a fragile person, and showed me through the power of His grace that, yeah, He really is enough. A bed? A pillow? A place to call my own? No, I don’t actually need any of those things. I can sleep on the floor – I didn’t know that I could, I honestly thought that it was impossible, but I can! Through Him who strengthens me, yeah? So, so faithful… I asked the Lord to prepare me for whatever and for wherever He will one day lead, and now I sit here, overwhelmed with how faithful He has been, and how gentle He has been.

The uncomfortableness of literally being homeless for moments (but there was always someone who would take me in, so it was really only moments)? It was glorious, a glorious poverty.

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So I sat there, the rain pouring down, writing flashcards and refreshing myself on metabolic acidosis and other such things, and meditating on how good God has been to me.

The journey He has led me on the last two years has been exhausting and exhilarating. The first nine months in Inner Mongolia were similar to re-opening a wound that had never healed well. All of the emotions of the four years previous, the deaths of babies I loved with everything I had… the trauma of people coming and going, of uncertainties and growing up so much in such a new place… all of those hard things were overwhelmed with trials and tribulations and even some despair. But it was all part of His plan, because He’s good like that. And so, when it came time to go to the USA (the last place I wanted to go, just being honest) last year, I did, but found that it was the most refreshing gift. Because those wounds that were freshly open and oozing and sore? They were perfectly prepared for healing (granulation, medical folks), and so last year the Lord worked a mighty work of restoration in my soul and spirit, so that when I returned to Inner Mongolia again, at the beginning of this year, everything was new.

Joy. Adventure. The good news. Oh, it was all just so, so good. I don’t even have the words to explain, I just want to quote half of the Psalms, all of Isaiah, some of Zechariah and a bit of Habakkuk and then 1 John because He brings forth new life. He really does!

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And now this season? This indescribably wonderful season of growing in the knowledge of Him? It’s made all the more precious because of the trials. It’s made all the more precious because He is holding my hand tightly, “Come, daughter, let me lead you through these things – My Promises, and you will see just how great I really am.”

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What wondrous love is this, O my soul, O my soul!

#LettersFromNaomi |two|

Hi Friends! Today’s post is brought to you by my lovely sister, Naomi. Last week the family invited over a few local girls to do some fun activities, like crafts and baking. I heard that it went pretty well, not completely smoothly, but that fun was had by all. Naomi took all of the pictures for this post, and even wrote up the captions. Enjoy!

We made cookies with some friends that we had over.

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Then we did crafts with melty beads.

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We made chocolate and cranberry oatmeal cookies.

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More and More cookies!!

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We also played spoons, but I didn’t take any pictures of that or else I would have lost.

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#LettersFromNaomi

Whoopsies. I’ve done a bad job finishing the Adventure in the Grasslands tale. I have all of these gorgeous pictures that Naomi sent me. She and En Mei have become quite brilliant with the camera, and took the prettiest shots. I know that there are lots of stories that go along with these pictures, but I haven’t heard all of them, and have experienced none of them, so I think that I should probably just let the pictures speak for themselves.

We’ll start here. I believe that this is a menggubao (yurt) under construction. It doesn’t look quite as quaint without the patterned leather, does it?

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*sigh* You guys. This is my favorite thing. Shepherds and sheep. It’s amazing, after growing up reading and listening to the Psalms… singing about how Good as Shepherd He is,  and then actually watching good shepherds at work. Wow. Just wow. Whenever I see the sheep and the shepherds my first thoughts are about Jacob and how he pastured a flock for so many years.
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Okay, can we all just stare at the picture below for a few minutes? April, Elisabeth’s little poodle, leaping with glee through the wildflowers of the Inner Mongolian grasslands? She looks so free and exuberant.

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Ah, to run wild and free and thankful through this land…

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Elisabeth and her child. I mean dog.

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Dear Lord, please make a way for me to be here during the summertime one day.

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Lily, with wildflowers bunched in her hand, adventuring. She’s so brave.

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The sheep again, this time with their Shepherd.

Savior, like a shepherd lead us,
Much we need Thy tender care;
In Thy pleasant pastures feed us,
For our use Thy folds prepare:
Blessed Jesus, blessed Jesus,
Thou hast bought us, Thine we are;
Blessed Jesus, blessed Jesus,
Thou hast bought us, Thine we are.

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April on the grasslands.

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She’s sort of cute.

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I just love them so much.

 

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When on the Mongolian Grasslands, might as well ride some horses, yes?

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Silly horses.

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And then, after a long day in beautiful nature, back to the Menggubao (yurt) for dinner and sleep.

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Umm. Yum.

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Grassland Motels.

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What an adventure.

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Note: all pictures were taken by Naomi or En Mei. I am still in the USA in school. In case you got confused :-)

This Moment of Pause

Semester #1 of nursing school is over. I have lots of thoughts about this, but it’s late and I’m going to get to bed.

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Today, with my free time (because the semester is over!) I decided to make jiaozi/dumplings. It’s a pretty simple process… just some flour, salt and water. The hardest thing is making them in a hot and steamy house, because the wrappers stick together and I ended up with a fresh lump of dough not once, but twice. Also I had no rolling pin… so I used a Crayola Marker. As I was looking through the kitchen drawers for something to roll the wrappers out with, I could just see the short, wooden rolling pins that we seem to have everywhere in our apartment in Inner Mongolia. But, alas, I didn’t pack one with me this trip over. Making a mental note for next time…

The filling was simple – beef and cabbage. Beef jiaozi isn’t something that I’ve ever (knowingly) encountered in China, but I couldn’t find the ground pork in the supermarket. Whoops.

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Dumplings aren’t the fastest meal to put together – usually it’s a process done by a party, but I found it quite relaxing listening to {convicting!} sermons while rolling out dough and mixing the filling together. A few hours, a few learning experiences, and a few mistakes later, and the afternoon was nearly gone but my soul was quieted and the floor covered in flour.

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I’m trying to find joy and beauty in the Moments of Pause right now. When everything slows down quickly and suddenly, and I’m alone, let my habit be to seek Him – oh my soul, “conduct yourselves in fear during the time of your stay on earth; knowing that you were not redeemed with perishable things like silver or gold from your futile way of life inherited from your forefathers, but with precious blood, as of a lamb unblemished and spotless, the blood of Christ.” (1 Peter 1:17-19)

In Ten Weeks

I’ve just ended my first ten weeks in the USA.

Wow.

In some ways ten weeks seems like such a short time, but in other ways it’s been forever. I’ve learned soooo much. Except for two more tests, I’m basically done with my first semester of nursing school, which is traditionally the first year of nursing school! That’s a lot of info crammed into one brain during one summer. But I should be able to draw your blood, insert and IV into your arm, put and NG tube down your nose and insert a Foley catheter and…. we’ll just stop there. We’ve been learning how to think as a nurse, how to assess, and how to hold our bladders for hours and hours on end. This is important stuff, friends!

But I think that I’ve learned much more in the non-school realm. I’ve learned a lot about people, I’ve made so many good friends in this program, and that’s a good thing because we’re stuck together for the next 15 months.

_MG_2350I’ve learned a lot about my faith, and about how powerful it is, and how desperately others need it. I’ve learned about the Love of God and how rich and measureless it is. I’ve learned that the power of truth is something to not ever be forgotten, and to always be pursued.

I’ve learned about how purposeful life lived joyfully can be. It’s glorious.

I’ve learned how precious the Word of God is, in ways I never thought I would.

I’ve learned how faithful a provider God is, and how He meets my needs in the most incredible ways, sometimes by not actually meeting my physical needs, because that’s when I really know what I need.

10 weeks. 10 full-to-bursting weeks. I wonder what the next will hold?

He is good. He is so good to me.