"... the mind controlled by the Spirit is LIFE & PEACE." -- Romans 8:6

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Re-Learning How to Do Change

This is one of those things I've probable written about five hundred times: some variation of change and how to deal with it. I know I've written about it because I've experienced it an awful lot. Ironically, my childhood, in general, was just about as stable as can be. I lived in the same house from three to eighteen years old, went to the same church in that length of time, and played soccer with most of the same friends growing up.

Also, if anybody asks, I am NOT a fan of change.
Consistency, routine, schedules, plans -- those things are where it's at.

But then I graduated from high school and change has seemed to follow me closely since then, and maybe even grown in intensity as the years pass. Now I fight to maintain some sort of consistency, routine, schedule, and.... well, I think I've about thrown "plans" out the window.

I really, really wish, after all of the crazy change and huge steps of faith I've experienced in the last eight years that I could write a book of advice. Instead, I'm here in the middle of big-time life change and feel like I'm just learning to walk again. Nevermind filling a whole book, I can barely find the words to articulate my thoughts and emotions in my own journal! This, my friends, is possibly the worst part. When I can't write, even thinking and processing on my own feels like such a chore.

Here are some lessons I'm re-learning and writing down so MAYBE this time they'll stick:

  • The stress of change lasts longer than I think it should. I need to allow myself to feel what I feel and take extra care to do things that give me rest. I probably won't make a best friend after two weeks of living in a new place. Without a car, I should maybe just hold off on finding my way around the city. Give yourself time. But also remember, seasons come and go--it won't last forever.
  • Celebrate small wins: There's a really great pizza place within walking distance! My new house is better than I even imagined! I can get myself home from a few select locations without using GPS! My significant other and I live in the same CITY, rather than two different COUNTRIES! There's a place here called "Yogulatte" (frozen yogurt and coffee) -- enough said! 
         So much winning.
  • Grace, grace, grace. When you pay rent in cash because you didn't order checks in time, there's grace. When you have to ask for rides to meetings or the grocery store, it's okay. When you're late because it takes a while to figure out how long things take and best routes, etc, that's alright. When your zip code and house number are similar enough you keep mixing them up... don't worry, I wrote down my address for reference, just in case. The point is -- majority of what I'm worried about right now, people around me are not even thinking twice about. 
          Just let it go.
  • If you want to make friends, you have to be a friend. Say yes to fun "extra" things to spend quality time with new people and build community. This combats loneliness, also common in seasons of change, and helps you feel settled. I'm very introverted and my job requires a lot of extroversion, so sometimes this is hard. But I want people in my life, so this is just a season where I need to be very intentional in that. 
  • Above all the "self-help" advice and random tidbits to remember, the most important, the most consistent is this: Jesus is still King. My emotions may be all over the place and indecipherable, but thank you Jesus, His love for me remains steadfast and His plans for my life are completely intact. That piece of my heart that searches for some semblance of consistency and stability in an ever-changing world finds more security in Christ than I could ever find elsewhere. The struggle of change is like the few minutes before the climax of a movie. It's like God says, "Hey, just sit tight, because what's coming is about to be AWESOME!" It's hard and confusing now, but the best part is right around the corner. 
When we trust that God truly is in control and He cares deeply about the details of our lives, then we can experience life-giving peace in any season of life. 
I know that sounds like a prescription for peace, which isn't realistic. As much as I wish life could be one big formula of A+B=C, vast majority of the time, it's full of things that seem to just not make sense. Maybe trusting in God is the last thing on your mind, it seems ridiculous and far-fetched, or you feel spiritually "dry" and placing your trust in God is just harder than normal right now. I believe that God's Word transforms our hearts--read, meditate on, pray through, discuss, wrestle with, and think about truth until it sinks into the depths of your heart. Don't give up.

Lauren Boebinger//

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Wherever You Go

"Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go." Joshua 1:9

God knows where I am and He goes with me. 

Does life ever just not end up the way that you imagine? Or maybe you imagined it, but can't believe what you imagined actually happened? For example, I live in Russia. How did that even happen?! Six months ago I remember informing my brother of the possibility of this pretty intense move across the world, and he replied with, "Russia?! Where did that come from?!" Honestly, I've heard similar astonished responses from students since living here, "You're an American? Why did you choose to come to Moscow?!" - accompanied by a look of confusion on their faces. 

But you know what? I've never questioned this decision. Mostly because I've never questioned the calling. It has been abundantly clear that for this time, with these people, in this location, I'm supposed to be doing what I'm doing. Because as weird and awkward and frustrating as it can be to move to a foreign country, I feel so at home. 

I feel at home in developing relationships with new friends that I feel like I've known for years. (How in the world have I only been in Moscow for three and a half weeks?!) I feel at home in figuring out how to do what I love here and establishing a new "normal" -- walking through the massive park/forest by my flat, exploring the city, and finding coffee shops (I just paid over $7.00 for a "rough coffee" - not sure what it is, but it's something I know I like, therefore, my new "go-to" drink.) My friend, Lauren, and I went to a delicious Indian restaurant for dinner last night at talked for two hours. It blessed me so much to be able to have an honest, deep, fun, refreshing conversation with a friend. I feel like I'm starting to establish myself here in this new, gigantic city and get my bearings a little bit. And then the snow will come and I'll feel like I'm in heaven. So many new things, but familiar at the same time. 

Also, how could I not understand my purpose in being here when I feel like every time I turn the corner the Lord is teaching me something new? He is so faithful to reveal truths and bring comfort just at the very moment that I need to receive it. I have constant reminders of my inadequacy - in leading, in walking in the Spirit, in choosing joy, in fixing my eyes on Jesus. I must choose to believe that when I am weak, God is strong, and His grace is sufficient for me. More than that, the weaker I am, the more I am able to rely on His abundant strength -- His power is made perfect in my weakness. (2 Corinthians 12:9) As Paul says in the following verses, I really should delight in my weakness so that I can reveal and understand more of the Lord's power!

While this all may have just sounded like a jumbled up realization that "Oh wow, I live in Russia", for me it is a reminder that as I learn a new culture, language, schedule, team, and a new part of myself, God is good through it all.

I had kind of a weird morning today that ended with burning the soup that my roommates and I were going to eat for lunch (who burns SOUP?!?!) and though it would probably not be beneficial to list every other frustration from the last three weeks, they exist. But life is not just hard because I live in Russia. Life is hard every where. Every season contains a mixture of emotions and experiences. Right now, they just all happen to be very extreme and moving in every direction. But I can rest assured that wherever I go, whatever emotions come, whenever things change -- God is steadfast & He is with me.

Friday, July 11, 2014

The Beauty of Being {CHOSEN}

Lately I've been somewhat caught up with the idea of being chosen

I blame Pinterest a little bit. 

But even before Pinterest, I wanted to be chosen for the kickball team at recess. I wanted to be chosen for the part in the school play. I wanted to be chosen for that after school job. There is something inside each of us that longs to be desired. We crave belonging and acceptance. It's a part of who we are. Everyone has experienced the pain of rejection from not being chosen. It hurts in a deep place in our hearts.

I don't care about kickball or school plays anymore. Now, I dream of being chosen as a wife. I want God to send "just the right" man to say, "Hey you! I choose you!" And I want to relish in the glory of being chosen. I want to be secure in his acceptance and affection. Also, "he" probably shouldn't refer to me as "Hey you!", but we'll work on that.

Next to blame after Pinterest is Sara Bareilles' new song "I Choose You" -- I've been listening to it on repeat. I love this song! 

At some point in the midst of this fixation with the idea of being CHOSEN, 
I realized that... I am

"But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a dedicated nation, [God’s] own purchased, special people, that you may set forth the wonderful deeds and display the virtues and perfections of Him Who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light." 1 Peter 2:9

[See a more thorough analysis on this commentary from Bible Hub.]

I have been CHOSEN by God! I have a purpose - to reflect Jesus in how I live because He is worthy of glory as the One who covers darkness with light. 

Even if I am rejected by many, I am abundantly loved and accepted by the only One who's affection is unfailing and never ending. What a relief to know that I am chosen, just as my heart was made to desire. Jesus satisfies even our greatest, deepest needs!

"But now, this is what the Lord says—
    he who created you, Jacob,
    he who formed you, Israel:
“Do not fear, for I have redeemed you;
    I have summoned you by name; you are mine.
When you pass through the waters,
    I will be with you;
and when you pass through the rivers,
    they will not sweep over you.
When you walk through the fire,
    you will not be burned;
    the flames will not set you ablaze.
For I am the Lord your God,
    the Holy One of Israel, your Savior;
I give Egypt for your ransom,
    Cush[a] and Seba in your stead.
Since you are precious and honored in my sight,
    and because I love you,
I will give people in exchange for you,
    nations in exchange for your life.
Do not be afraid, for I am with you[...]".

Isaiah 43:1-5a

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Lost in Transition

Sometimes I can take things one day at a time with a great amount of peace and confidence in my heart. I just roll with the punches, laugh at the silly roadblocks, change plans with ease, and communicate like a normal, sane person. 

Other times, though, there's a whole lot of panicking going on. Panicking that starts with quick breathing, foggy thoughts and cloudy memory, inability to decide on what to have for dinner (nevermind any kind of major life decision), and in extreme cases - jumping to ridiculous conclusions. It seems I have a much more radical imagination during these panicky times.

I know the truth that I can TRUST the Lord with all my heart and lean not on my own understanding. I need to acknowledge HIM in all my ways, and He will make my paths straight. (Proverbs 3:5-6) 

I also know that God has a plan and it's a darn good one! Rather than panicky, I should be celebrating that He's already got it under control and I can simply rest in Him.

But sometimes the weight of the transition becomes too much.

I couldn't sleep last night and in the tangle of a thousand thoughts bouncing around, I somehow came to this silly conclusion:

I'm not very good at transition.
Life is just one big ball of transition.
I'm not very good at life.

I wrote this down in my journal this morning... because it made me chuckle.

Yes, life is FULL of one transition after another. Yes, my natural tendency is to hide from big, scary change. But reality is, that is only a teensy tiny part of what's actually happening.

Reality is, I'm PSYCHED about this transition!
I may feel a little lost or overwhelmed at times, but I am fully confident that I'm moving in the right direction and I'm exactly where God wants me to be. That confidence outweighs the opposing feelings by far.

In all of my over-analyzing, fact-seeking, and detail-figuring, I am still SO stoked to be living life on an adventure serving God! I would much prefer THIS, than anything else. I don't want a comfortable, safe, or stagnant life. I want to be on the front lines. 

It really is all about the journey. God is teaching me so much, even before I get to Moscow. He has a plan for me this summer... He has a plan for me TOMORROW. 

Am I ready to embrace whatever comes tomorrow - frustration or fear - as a part of the big-picture journey He has me on?

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Do More! Do More!

This very basic life lesson has become a prominent thought in the past few days: 

You can only check one thing off on your to-do list at a time.

It probably sounds obvious and shallow to all of you wise people who are so much more experienced at life than I. And I'm sure this comes as no surprise to those who know me well, but I get a real sense of joy from checking that little box next to the task I just accomplished on my ever-growing list of things to do. It's the adrenaline kick every task-oriented perfectionist craves!

"But He said to me, 'My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.' Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ's sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. 

For when I am weak, then I am strong."

- 2 Corinthians 12:9-10

I've found myself in the middle of another transition. There will be even more major transition & change coming up in about a month, and then again in three months - each one progressing in intensity. (It's like God is intentionally preparing me for what's ahead!) 

I'm moving from working as part-time field staff with Cru at Boise State to raising support full-time, then to the mission field full-time in Moscow, Russia. I have a notebook full of various lists, budgets, goals, schedules, notes, etc. Somewhere I got it into my head that I would accomplish everything I need to prepare for Russia all in one week. While that's rather ambitious of me, it's also pretty ridiculous. 

It's not all going to get done this week. I may not schedule as many appointments as I should be. My bags are not packed, nor do I have everything that needs to go in my bags yet. People will not respond to emails or phone calls two minutes after I leave a message for them. There is definitely a lot of work to do and plenty of things to keep me busy, but a big part of this "job" right now is 1) waiting on other people, and 2) waiting on the Lord. 

"Trust in the Lord with ALL of your heart & lean not on your own understanding.
- Proverbs 3:5

Everything always comes back to trust...

Why do I worry? I lack trust.

When am I most fearful? When I lack trust.

Why do I so often desire control? Because I lack trust.

Trust is a decision. It's not about "doing more" or filling up my schedule to make myself look busy or reporting high numbers in everything -- it's about trusting that God is directing my steps and will be faithful to provide what I need. 

Reality is, I can only do one thing on my to-do list at a time. There will be some (or many) days when I don't feel like I checked "enough" things off of my list. There will be days when I spend hours making phone calls and sending emails and don't hear back from anyone for two days. That is not for lack of trying; it's just out of my control! And I need to be okay with that. Because when I trust God fully, I have nothing to fear. There is no reason to worry. 

I want to quit the mindset of "Do more!" and adopt a grace-filled perspective that will push me to do the right things. 

Sunday, May 4, 2014

Rest + Big News

I miss blogging! It's been far too long. I have an idea for a really awesome, biblical post, but it will have to come later this week because it's a bit intellectual and structured, and I'm just not feeling either of those things today. At all.

Today is my intentional day of REST. It is Sunday, so I guess that makes sense... a lot of people make this day one of rest. But I tend to be really bad at that. Typically, my "day of rest" includes checking off items on my to-do list and jumping ahead to the pile of work for the week. Outside of laundry (because it's necessary!), I am doing NO work, NO getting ahead in the work week, or even getting caught up on things that realistically need to get done... they can all wait until tomorrow. Gosh, that is such a peaceful feeling! 

I knew I needed this day of strict rest when I woke up at 10:30 this morning after sleeping for 11 hours. I think of my mom when I sleep extra long because she always responds with, "Well, you must have needed it!" Yes, I definitely did, Mom! She's really good at telling me it's okay to rest. :)

There really is no point to the last couple paragraphs except to report that I am indeed taking a day of rest for once (this is one of my goals for the summer: balance) and it's pretty amazing, so you should do it, too. :) 

But the next bit is a little more exciting: Hey, I'm moving to Russia for a year
I've postponed publicly posting the news because I wanted to wait for it to be "official" - but now it is! And I've definitely been on an adrenaline kick since I found out... which is probably another reason why I need to rest today... too much energy. ;-) 

Moscow, Russia STINT Team

I will be in Boise until June 10th, with a trip over Memorial day weekend to move furniture and boxes to my grandparents' house in Oregon. After June 10th, I'll spend the rest of the summer living with my Mom & Grandparents until I leave for Moscow, Russia mid-August. Outside of a trip to Colorado for Team Leader training, STINT (short-term international -- missions program with Cru) briefing with my team in Chicago right before we leave, potentially a trip to visit friends, and nannying for the next 5 weeks, I will be working hard full-time to develop a team of ministry partners to give financially and prayerfully while I am in Moscow over the next year. 

This past week I connected with those who were on my team this last year and it has been SUCH an encouragement to share about the many ways that God has moved on the Boise State campus, as well as my vision for going to Moscow. I just love that, as Christians, we get to serve God together in so many different capacities! I am so very thankful for the people that God has allowed me to connect with as a result of doing ministry & life together!

This past year I've been on staff part-time with Cru at Boise State; I'm so excited that I get to go overseas to do there what I've already been doing here! There is so much to say - and still yet to process - of how I see that God is calling me to go, the timing of being in Russia, the patience & trust I learned in waiting to find out where I will be going, and what God is doing in my heart now as I prepare to go. "Excitement" really is an understatement!

Now that I've spilled the beans, I'll feel more freedom to post/write about the process -- I'm excited to share it with you all! Let me know if you have any questions or want more information. Otherwise, please consider praying for me as I move toward this major transition with all of the work and preparation that lies ahead in the next few months. 

Romans 10:11-17 (MSG)

"Scripture reassures us, “No one who trusts God like this—heart and soul—will ever regret it.” It’s exactly the same no matter what a person’s religious background may be: the same God for all of us, acting the same incredibly generous way to everyone who calls out for help. “Everyone who calls, ‘Help, God!’ gets help.”

But how can people call for help if they don’t know who to trust? And how can they know who to trust if they haven’t heard of the One who can be trusted? And how can they hear if nobody tells them? And how is anyone going to tell them, unless someone is sent to do it? That’s why Scripture exclaims,
A sight to take your breath away!

Grand processions of people
    telling all the good things of God!
But not everybody is ready for this, ready to see and hear and act. Isaiah asked what we all ask at one time or another: 
“Does anyone care, God? Is anyone listening and believing a word of it?” 
The point is: Before you trust, you have to listen. 
But unless Christ’s Word is preached, 
there’s nothing to listen to."

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

My Forever Hope

I was stung by the words of a student at Boise State yesterday who responded to the question, "What do you put your hope in?" with: mankind's potential for greatness. So, you're putting your hope in your fellow man? Wow. That is actually heartbreaking to me. People fail constantly. We are bent toward evil and have a sinful nature that pushes us away from God; this is not the type of being that I'd choose to place my hope.


I am so thankful that we don't have to stay there, stuck in our sin.

I'm thankful that God has a good PLAN for His people.

I'm thankful that even though our natural instinct may draw us away from God, He continues to pursue us relentlessly. His "love never fails, never gives up, never runs out on me" (Jesus Culture, One Thing Remains // music video).

I'm thankful that "God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him will not perish, but have eternal life" (John 3:16, NIV)

I'm thankful that my hope & my future are found in Jesus Christ.

I'm thankful that I can claim freedom in Christ as a daughter of the One True King.
Galatians 5; 2 Corinthians 6:18


I've been thinking a lot about David lately in reading the Psalms. His words are so full of passion and emotion. Not fake emotion, and not overly spiritualized/religious emotion either. It's raw, real, and relatable. For example, take a look at the difference between Psalm 102 and 103:

"Hear my prayer, Lord;
let my cry for help come to you. 
Do not hide your face from me when I am in distress.
Turn your ear to me;
when I call, answer me quickly.

For my days vanish like smoke;
my bones burn like glowing embers.
My heart is blighted and withered like grass;
I forget to eat my food.
In my distress I groan aloud
and am reduced to skin and bones. 
I am like a desert owl,
like an owl among the ruins." 
Psalm 102:1-6

"Praise the Lord, my soul;
all my inmost being, praise His holy name.
Praise the Lord, my soul, 
and forget not all his benefits--
who forgives all your sins
and heals all your diseases,
who redeems your life from the pit
and crowns you with love and compassion,
who satisfies your desires with good things
so that your youth is renewed like the eagle's.
The Lord works righteousness and justice for all the oppressed."
Psalm 103:1-6

I resonate with the contrast here between the two different thought processes!

I'm not a scholar on the book of Psalms, so I don't know if these two chapters were necessarily written together, but I do know that they were written by the same man. I appreciate that the same man can express such utter depression, sadness, fear, and loneliness, then turn immediately to praising God with everything inside him! 

It sounds to me like a "Yeah, but..." situation.

"Yeah, life is hard, but God truly is faithful to provide; He will never leave us nor forsake us."

"Yeah, you will experience trouble in this world, but take heart, because [Jesus] has overcome the world!" (John 16:33)

"Yeah, you feel lonely, but God still sees you and loves you."

"Yeah, you may not know what decision to make, but God knows what your future holds; it's all under control."

My heart can hold both real emotion and wrestling as well as the desire to trust God, praise Him, and know Him more. This is especially encouraging because David, in all of his very real temptations and struggles, is called by God a "man after His own heart" (Acts 13:22). 

I want that to be true of me. I want to be known by God as a woman who reflects His heart.

I'm thankful that HE is my hope, not whatever I can muster up or find on my own.