Feet Will Fail

Tomorrow morning my dad and I will be leaving for Millersburg, PA, where we will meet up with the rest of the team to travel to JFK for an 8pm flight. Please be in prayer for safe travels (the plane ride is 14 hours long), and health (physical and spiritual) throughout the journey. Before we leave, I want to leave with a reminder that God is my security. He has called me; I will go. Yes, things are going to be out of my comfort zone. Yes, I will feel ill-equipped. Yes, I will feel tired and overwhelmed at times. But He is my strength. When my feet will fail, His hand will uphold me. Take in the lyrics to this song. I hope they will be an encouragement.

“You call me out upon the waters
The great unknown where feet may fail
And there I find You in the mystery
In oceans deep
My faith will stand

“And I will call upon Your name
And keep my eyes above the waves
When oceans rise
My soul will rest in Your embrace
For I am Yours and You are mine

“Your grace abounds in deepest waters
Your sovereign hand
Will be my guide
Where feet may fail and fear surrounds me
You’ve never failed and You won’t start now

“So I will call upon Your name
And keep my eyes above the waves
When oceans rise
My soul will rest in Your embrace
For I am Yours and You are mine

“Spirit lead me where my trust is without borders
Let me walk upon the waters
Wherever You would call me
Take me deeper than my feet could ever wander
And my faith will be made stronger
In the presence of my Savior”

Packing and Panic

Only two more nights in my own bed, before I’m off to Africa! This past week has flown by so fast. Monday, I got a dramatic hair cut (12 inches off!). Tuesday, my brother had his first basketball game. Wednesday, I had a Literature class and youth group. Today, I indulged in first-world culture with Season 2 of Sherlock and packed my bags.

Speaking of packing, I’ve learned a few things about what to pack over the years. As long as I can remember, I’ve always been making my own packing lists and packing my own bags. Over the last few years, I’ve had some unique packing situations – having to pack all carry-on for a weeklong trip to Idaho, packing for a month in Europe in one suitcase, fitting 40 granola bars and everything else in a single backpack for Costa Rica, and now packing for Africa.

A few tips I’ve gathered along the way:

– Roll your clothes or lay them flat to optimize space

– Bring one less outfit than you “think” you need

– Extra books will rarely be regretted (unless you have to carry them on your back)

– Power bars can sustain you for weeks… not really… but they actually taste a lot better than people give them credit for

– BB Creams are the miracle make-up product

– Find shoes that go with everything and are super comfortable (if I could, I would only bring Chacos to Liberia)

– Set out your journal first, or you’ll probably forget it, and you’ll miss it a lot

– Taking daily garlic pills will keep the mosquitos away–no joke (ok, that’s not really a packing tip)

 

Last night, I stayed up way too late, but I wanted to make a list of my fears for this trip. I managed to narrow my many concerns into four main fears. On one side of an index card, I wrote the fear; on the other side, I wrote Scripture to combat that fear. I want to share those fears and Scripture with you. It’s vulnerability time! ūüôā

I am worried about getting sick or hurt.

“Cast your cares on the Lord and he will sustain you; he will never let the righteous be shaken.” (Psalms 55:22)

“Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.” (1 Peter 5:7)

“And we know that in all things, God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” (Romans 8:28)

I am worried about being tired and weak after traveling and long days.

“My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” (Romans 12:9)

“Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles, they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.” (Isaiah 40:30-31)

I am scared to have panic attacks while I’m there.

“For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind. ” (2 Timothy 1:7)

“See, I lay a stone in Zion, a tested stone, a precious cornerstone for a sure foundation; the one who relies on it will never be stricken with panic.” (Isaiah 28:16)

I am scared about not leading effectively, not being able to relate, or being unable to understand the accent.

“Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have summoned you; you are mine.” (Isaiah 43:1)

“I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” (Philippians 4:13)

– – Phebe

Learning to Be Thankful

Image

We celebrated an early Thanksgiving yesterday, since my dad and I will be in Liberia during Thanksgiving. My grandma, aunt, and cousin (on my dad’s side of the family) came over for dinner around 2:00pm. We had traditional dishes of turkey, mashed potatoes, and cranberry sauce, as well as some more unique items like acorn squash and pumpkin cheesecake. Needless to say, everything tasted amazing. But it was strange to think that this year I’ll be in Africa on Thanksgiving. I wonder where I’ll be and what I’ll be doing. One thing is for certain, from now on, the day will certainly hold new perspective.

In the midst of the busyness of life, Thanksgiving is a day that forces us to count our blessings. How easy it is to forget all we have to be thankful for! In the evenings, my dad has been reading a book to the family called Gratitude by Barbara Rainy. The book talks about how to intentionally look for ways to give thanks in all circumstances.

1 Thessalonians 5:16 says,¬†“In everything give thanks; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”

Tonight we read about Matthew Henry, a Puritan preacher in the late 1600s. One night, after being robbed in the street, he wrote in his journal: “I thank Thee, first, because I was never robbed before; second, because altho’ they took my belongings, they did not take my life; third, altho’ they took everything I had, it was not much; and fourth, because it was I who was robbed and not I who robbed!” What perspective on a challenging and unnerving situation!

Mrs. Rainy applies this practice of looking for the best in each situation into practical terms for modern-day living. She writes, “Is it possible that God is using that slow driver in front of you to protect you from a wreck? When you lose a valued possession, might God be teaching you contentment? When someone in your life is being difficult, could God be giving you an opportunity to pray and see what he will do?” (p. 7).

In light of what we’ve been reading, I want to take the time to look at some challenging situations this week and find a reason to praise God.

1. Our dryer broke on Wednesday. I am thankful that it broke before we left for Liberia, so that mom did not have to deal with it alone. I am also thankful that we could find a new washer and dryer set for 25% off.

2. I have been sick this past week. I am thankful that I got sick during a week where I could sleep later in the mornings. I am also thankful that I got sick last week, so that I can have this week, before I leave, to recover.

3. It was raining on Saturday when we were filming our dance trailer, and our video camera stopped working. I am thankful because the cloudy skies provided the perfect lighting and mood for our trailer. I am also thankful because another dancer just happened to bring along an extra camera.

Image

I know I’ve already written so much tonight, but there is so much to share! Above you can see a picture of six of the dancers who were part of the trailer shoot yesterday morning. (Yes, we are barefoot in 50 degree weather!) We were filming a trailer for our spring dance concert, which will be supporting Abide Family Center (www.abidefamilycenter.org). The night before, my dad and I were commissioned by my dance group to go to Liberia. It is so wonderful to know that I am representing Children of the Light during my time in Liberia. And it is a huge comfort to know that I go with their prayers and support! This morning, my dad and I were also commissioned and prayed over at church. We are part of a larger body. Even though we are going physically, all those who have supported us through prayers and financial support are connected with our team. Together, we are looking to establish the kingdom of God on this earth.

This time next week, I’ll be in Liberia. Please continue praying for preparation!

– – Phebe

The Art of Perfectionism

I’ve always considered myself to be a perfectionist. I tend to overanalyze things, I strive for excellence, I often get stressed over projects, etc, etc. But I had never truly considered what makes me a perfectionist. What is the defining point for someone who is a perfectionist? Is it simply the desire to be perfect?

Recently, a friend told me about a Huffington Post article that revealed to her that she was a perfectionist, although she never thought she was. Thankfully she posted the link to the article on her blog. (Read her blog here. It’s one of my favorite blogs that I follow!) I decided to take a look at the article and analyze myself. Am I a perfectionist?

Image

I reference the article throughout the rest of the post, so check it out for yourself!

You’ve always been eager to please.¬†Yes. While I don’t mind offending people for something I believe in, I like to avoid conflict with my friends. I live by the phrase: “I achieve, therefore I am.” More on that later…

You know your drive to perfection is hurting you, but you consider it the price you pay for success.¬†Yup. I’ve always considered myself a perfectionist (hey, I get it genetically), and so I’ve just accepted that I’ll have to suffer through my perfectionism to get where I want to go.

You’re a big procrastinator.¬†Not really… I tend to get things done when I say they’ll be done. Being a homeschooler, though, I am guilty of putting aside schoolwork I¬†really¬†don’t want to do or don’t “have time” to do. And I can relate to what the author is saying. I tend to avoid things I’m worried about failing. (Such as this one project I have… yikes! Better get on that!)

You’re highly critical of others.¬†*Honesty alert* I tend to think the worst of people. And like I said previously, I overanalyze. I’m learning to look at things from all angles. It’s a growing process, and one that I can definitely see God working.

You go big or go home.¬†All the time. This is why I have always struggled with art and music–I want them to be perfect. I tend to take on projects I know I can succeed, and I tend to regret taking on projects that I feel like I failed.

You have a hard time opening up to other people. No. I enjoy sharing with people and finding people whom I can relate. However, certain issues and certain people I do have a hard time sharing.

You know there’s no use crying over spilt milk… but you do anyway.¬†Um, yes. Little mistakes often ruin my attitude. And often I have stress meltdowns over things that don’t matter in the long run. Sometimes it’s just better to let go.

You take everything personally.¬†Unfortunately, yes I do. Well, unless it’s true sarcasm (from someone I know actually cares about me).

… And you get really defensive when criticized.¬†Yeah, I like to defend myself when I’m wrong. Even on graded papers. I know, I need to get over that.

You’re never quite “there yet.”¬†College applications. ‘Nuff said.

The image below makes you nervous. Absolutely! My parents have always emphasized being different than the world. And since a very young age, I have always strived for excellence. A lot of it comes from being a first born child; some comes genetically.

Image

You take pleasure in someone else‚Äôs failure, even though it has nothing to do with you.¬†No. I hurt for other people who have failed. I guess that’s part of being an √ľber compassionate person. However, I do find comfort when someone else has failed in the exact same thing that I have. But I still hurt for them.

You get secretly nostalgic for your school days.¬†Well, this doesn’t quite apply to me yet. But I’ve always enjoyed school, and I enjoy having a grade to measure my success.

You have a guilty soul.¬†A lot of my anxiety and stress stems from the self-imposed need to be “perfect.” Guilt sets in when I can’t “measure up.”

Perfectionism = 11; Non-perfectionism = 3.

Diagnosis: I am a perfectionist.

The drive for excellence and doing our best is, however, a desire from God. We should desire to do our best in everything. Colossians 3:23 says, “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters.” As God’s children, He has also created us for more.¬†I am made for more than the things of this world.¬†“If God is for us, who can be against us?” (Romans 8:31).

The other side to perfectionism opens up a perfect (hehe!) opportunity to talk about what God has been teaching me lately.¬†I do not need to be perfect. The Bible¬†never says anywhere that we need to be perfect. In fact, nowhere in the Bible does God say that he is disappointed in His children. That word just isn’t used in correlation with us. We have a misconception that God regrets making us, so we need to live up to a certain expectation. But that is a lie.¬†Romans 6:14 says, “…you are not under the law, but under grace.” What does that mean? Simply that we do not need to live as if we’re trying to “measure up” to something. Jesus’s death on the cross took away the need to be worthy of His love and approval.¬†I do not need to be worthy, because Jesus is worthy enough for me.¬†

Cling to these truths! Claim them as your own! If you’re like me, accept that God has made you to have perfectionist tendencies, but don’t let them keep you from living under the banner of grace.¬†

– – Phebe

Build Your Kingdom Here

There’s a song that seems to be popping up everywhere. And it has been my favorite song from the first time I heard it this summer at dance camp. “Build Your Kingdom Here” by Rend Collective Experiment puts into words and music the greatest prayer in my heart. On Saturday, during our time of intercession, a team member’s father spoke the song’s lyrics over us, and I was reminded of the power behind this song. Crazy how music can speak such truth into our lives!¬†

A few weeks ago, I looked up the band behind this great song. The Rend Collective Experiment is a group of friends that began this band or “experiment” in Ireland. I had been originally singing the song with America in mind, but it was so cool to realize that the band was actually singing it with Ireland in mind. Christians from all over the world have the same prayer in their hearts. Sometimes we forget that the church extends past our own little bubble. This song is just proof that God’s vision transcends nationality or language! You can read more about the band’s mission here.¬†

I wanted to copy this lyrics here in this post. I hope that they may be an encouragement to you today. Also check their super creative video out on YouTube.

Come set Your rule and reign
in our hearts again.
Increase in us we pray.
Unveil why we’re made.
Come set our hearts ablaze with hope
like wildfire in our very souls.
Holy Spirit, come invade us now.
We are Your church.
We need Your power in us.

We seek Your kingdom first.
We hunger and we thirst.
Refuse to waste our lives
for You’re our joy and prize.
To see the captive hearts released.
The hurt, the sick, the poor at peace.
We lay down our lives for Heaven’s cause.

We are Your church.
We pray revive this earth.

Build Your kingdom here.
Let the darkness fear.
Show Your mighty hand.
Heal our streets and land.
Set Your church on fire.
Win this nation back.
Change the atmosphere.
Build Your kingdom here.
We pray.

Unleash Your kingdom’s power
reaching the near and far.
No force of Hell can stop
Your beauty changing hearts.
You made us for much more than this!
Awake the kingdom seed in us!
Fill us with the strength and love of Christ.

We are Your church.
We are the hope on earth.

May we never stop dreaming big and praying hard!
 
– – Phebe

Funny Provisions

Don’t you love God’s sense of humor? He sometimes has a funny way of providing for His children. (Not a “ha-ha” funny but a “not-what-I-expected” funny.)

I must confess that I was NOT happy about attending our last missions planning/training meeting today. For the past five months, we have been traveling up to Millersburg, PA to meet with our team. This is a three hour drive that requires my dad and I getting up early. And I do not like to rise overly early (being a homeschooler, I rarely wake up before 7:00am). Last night was a tough night at dance, so I got home feeling tired and stressed. The next morning I had to wake up at 5:00am to leave for PA – 6 hours total driving for a 2 hour meeting. Let’s just say I was very upset… to the point of a breakdown. I convinced myself that the meeting was not worth it. That dance was not worth it. That going to Liberia was not worth it. When you start down a road of negative emotions (and are tired, hungry, and dehydrated), it is extremely easy to say and think things that you don’t actually mean.

But God completely redeemed my attitude of “It’s not fair!” Yesterday morning I woke up tired, as I expected, but was able to sleep on the way up to PA. When we arrived, instead of feeling upset, I felt a sense of peace. The meeting turned out to be more helpful than I had thought. We shared our excitements and fears. For example, I am most excited to be in Africa, exploring a new culture and meeting the people. However, I am most anxious about the long traveling–14 hour plane rides and 7 hour bus rides–which often exhaust me. Then we sorted out many of the details, including medicine, packing, and accommodations. My anticipation started building as I began to picture myself in Liberia.

After our time of planning, we engaged in an hour of prayer and exhortation with some of our intercessors. I could feel the Spirit moving in the room as our intercessors shared words of encouragement, read Scripture, and prophesied over us. The time was truly special, and I left feeling more equipped to minister to the Liberians than I did that morning.  Some of the Scripture spoke to me so strongly, that I wanted to share it here.

Psalm 8:2 Because of Your adversaries, You have established a stronghold from the mouths of children and nursing infants to silence the enemy and the avenger.

The words of prophesy spoken with this verse were that God would use the children to change Liberia. The children we will be teaching are the next generation of Liberian leaders; therefore, any impact we make in their lives may directly influence the direction of their country. So exciting to imagine!

Jeremiah 1:4-10¬†The word of the¬†Lord¬†came to me, saying, “Before I formed you in the womb¬†I knew¬†you,¬†before you were born¬†I set you apart;¬†I appointed you as a prophet to the nations.” “Alas, Sovereign¬†Lord,‚ÄĚ I said, ‚ÄúI do not know how to speak;¬†I am too young.‚Ä̬†But the¬†Lord¬†said to me, ‚ÄúDo not say, ‚ÄėI am too young.‚Äô You must go to everyone I send you to and say whatever I command you.¬†Do not be afraid¬†of them, for I am with you¬†and will rescue¬†you,‚ÄĚ declares the¬†Lord.¬†Then the¬†Lord¬†reached out his hand and touched¬†my mouth and said to me, ‚ÄúI have put my words in your mouth.¬†See, today I appoint you over nations¬†and kingdoms to uproot¬†and tear down, to destroy and overthrow, to build and to plant.‚ÄĚ

Although many members of the team are young – five of us range in age from 12 to 17, God has called each one of us. None of us have any reason to fear, for God will give us the words to reach the people of Liberia.

So even though my attitude about going to PA was negative, God decided to turn my day around and make the early morning and long car ride worth it. My plan was that I’d be better off with more sleep; His plan was that I’d be better off with some encouragement and prayer.

– – Phebe

 

 

Why Liberia?

Isaiah 58:12 “And your ancient ruins shall be rebuilt; you shall raise up the foundations of many generations.”¬†(ESV)

In one verse, this is our purpose for going to Liberia. During the late 1900s and early 2000s, Liberia was ravaged by civil war. Their buildings were destroyed, their people killed, their families torn apart. Our focus is to help establish a generational vision for godly family. During the day, we will be leading an all-day kids conference that focuses on identity in Christ. Many of the children do not know who their father is, so we will particularly be emphasizing God as our Father and talking about our value as God’s princesses and princes. In the evenings, the adults on our team will be leading a pastors’ and parents’ conference about establishing a godly family.

I first heard about this mission last September (2012) on a dance retreat. Our speaker, Pastor Steve, had been to Liberia five times and was planning his sixth trip. He wanted to extend the invitation for our group to join him in Liberia to minister through dance. I was instantly captivated. On my way out the door, I thanked him sincerely for his relevant messages that he had shared over the weekend. He looked at me and said, “You’re going to Liberia with us next fall, aren’t you? I can see it in your eyes.” From that point, I knew I had been called.

Fast forward a few months, and I am attending an informational meeting about the missions trip to Liberia. Joining us is a pastor from Liberia, Owen, who shares with us his heart for Liberia. We learn about the history of Liberia, its culture, and our mission. With each new insight, I find myself getting more and more excited. The apprehensions disappear when I am talking to Pastor Steve and Owen. I can tell my mom is excited too. After the meeting, I talk with some of the other girls and parents who attended the meeting. Their fears and concerns are evident. I wonder why I don’t feel that way.

As the weeks pass, I pray more and more about this missions trip. As the weeks pass, I find out that each girl who went to the meeting is no longer able to go, for one reason or another. I am left.

Fast forward again. After much prayer and discussion, my dad also feels called to go to Liberia. The trip provides the perfect way to serve God together and to spend time with each other before I leave for college. His presence also alleviates that last concern of male protection in Liberia. What an answer to prayer!

Fast forwarding yet again, the trip is now only two weeks away! Only fourteen more days until I board a plane to the “sweet land of Liberty”. Our team consists of about twenty teens and adults from churches in Pennsylvania and Virginia. The team is split up into a building team and a family team. My dad and I will be ministering with the family team – a group of five teen girls and two fathers. Over the past months, I have had the opportunity to connect with the team. I know that by the end of our journey, we will be as close as family members. One of my favorite things about this whole process is seeing how each Christian is part of a larger body. Sometimes I feel secluded in my Northern Virginia Christian bubble. But the family of God is so much bigger than that! Getting to minister with other believers in a different state has shown me that truth first hand. A glimpse of God’s kingdom on earth: the body of Christ yoked together in a common purpose to do His will.

– – Phebe

About

About the blog…¬†I have been contemplating starting a blog after a few peers and mentors suggested the idea. However, I felt like a blog was too “clich√©”, since everyone seemed to be writing one. (Not to be a blog hater. Everyone has something to share, and I am an avid blog reader.) But I needed a purpose. That purpose arose with my fast-approaching trip to Liberia. I wanted a way to document my preparations and travels. So, here I am.

About the title…¬†Different titles have been spinning around in my head for weeks. “God Gazing” came to me a few days ago, when reading¬†Wait For Me¬†by Rebecca St. James. To quote her book: “Whether God has called us to be married or single, it really comes down to the same thing–making Him our first love, focusing our gazes on Him.” I jotted down the title idea at the end of the chapter, but didn’t give much though to it until now. The title is further inspired by Psalm 27:4, “One thing I ask from the Lord, this only do I seek: that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to gaze on the beauty of the Lord, and to seek him in his temple.” I believe if we keep our eyes open, we can glimpse God’s kingdom and His beauty on Earth. I want to be intentional in looking for God in my everyday life (similar to how star-gazing is intentionally searching for stars). I want to keep track of those glimpses on this blog, so that I may praise Him for His faithfulness when life is rough. Thus, God Gazing was born.

About the author…¬†I am by no means a professional writer, but I have been practicing for a while. What better way to develop my skills than to frequently write with purpose right here? I have a passion for words and communication. I love to analyze the most effective way to communicate a particular message to a specific audience. Other passions include politics, going barefoot, a cup of hot tea, dark chocolate, all-natural health and beauty, classy cars, exploring cultures, traveling, and my savior Jesus Christ.

I am looking forward to sharing my glimpses of Christ’s kingdom on earth with you all!!