Working the Plan

Like many, I’ve clung to the promise of Jeremiah 29:11 through life’s ups and downs. But yesterday, the stakes just got so much higher.

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Phoenix marks the place of a lot of loss for me. And when I got the green light to leave here, I never imagined coming back. But I also never imagined going to all the places and nations where I’ve been since I left.

Wanderlust has definitely left a mark on me, so there has been a little resistance to live here again. Not to mention, my biggest fear in leaving Japan was that I would lose the complete dependency I became accustomed to and truth be told, comes much easier in a foreign land.

But perfect love casts out all fear and complete dependence is just the life He intended for me to live no matter where I am.

And trust me, I need Him now like never before. I may be back where I was, but I’m not who I was. And everything I had then, I don’t have now.

Suffice to say, had I known I’d be back, I would have planned a little better. But my plans never went as planned, anyway.

But His?

Well, let’s just say when I left Arizona, I didn’t plan for any of this…

Hiking so many different spots in Colorado and basking in all the beauty of that place with old and new friends.

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Making deep connections in Pemba, Mozambique where language was often a barrier, but love and kindness were always exchanged.

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Hanging out and meeting new friends on a street of the Nana Red Light District in Bangkok, Thailand.

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Being dressed in a most beautiful kimono one special afternoon in Japan by one of the most precious women I’ve ever met.

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This life. It takes my breath away.

And it’s not that I didn’t have such beautiful experiences before this, but life lived with such a deep awareness of the love of the One who made it is so much richer.

And though I’m back in Arizona, I know that the adventure doesn’t end here.

Because when you have no plans, everything is an adventure.

And when the Master Planner is your Everlasting Father, and you’re His favorite girl, you can trust that it’s only going to get better.

For I know what I have planned for you,’ says the LORD. ‘I have plans to prosper you, not to harm you. I have plans to give you a future filled with hope. -Jeremiah 29:11

I left my heart in San Francisco

Soon as I knew I was leaving Japan and returning home, I wondered where I would live and what I would do. But continuing to trust Him with every step, I knew those details would come.

I love when a dear friend put it this way, “You’re on a need to know basis… you’ll know when you need to know!”

Yet I couldn’t ignore that San Francisco kept popping up on my radar. Knowing no one in San Francisco, I figured I would know someone when I needed to!

So within three days of being back on American soil, this pops up on my News Feed:

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Hmm… so what’s a girl — who just landed in the States with no clue of what to do or where to go, but who has taken special note of San Francisco and who just so happens to be single and in love with Jesus — to do?

Well, first she totally over analyzes the whole dang thing…

Oh man, what would I do without grace?!?

After 15 minutes of craziness, I sent a message to my Facebook friend who posted the status, and after some messages were exchanged, I decided to go to San Francisco and get a feel for what’s happening in Bayview.

I met with my beautiful friend and heard her sweet heart and passion for the women and children of Bayview. Please check out how she is loving others deeply through Banner Over Bayview.

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She graciously gave me a brief tour of the sights and smells of Bayview, and I got to meet more incredible people with hearts for this area through Project Bayview.

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I also had the chance to volunteer with City Impact. True to their name, they are making a positive impact in countless ways in the Tenderloin district, another area of extreme poverty, crime and drugs in downtown San Francisco.

I had the opportunity to welcome and become acquainted with the residents of the Tenderloin while they waited in line for all the free services offered during the annual City Impact Conference. There was a tent for everything from dog washing to haircuts to a make shift cafe. And that was just at the site where I was volunteering, there was so much more going on beyond this.

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But the greatest thing that went on for me was meeting Dennis.

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From what I could gather Dennis showed up in line because another team of volunteers had met him on the street and wheeled him over. And I’m so glad they did because I got to wheel him through the different tents while we shared stuff that made us smile and other stuff that made us cry.

Not only is Dennis bound to a wheelchair, but he was recovering from a recent fall out of it so his right arm was in a sling. And overall, Dennis just isn’t doing so well.

Several times Dennis said, “I just don’t understand…” and would finish with tears. And all I could do was echo his sentiment. Tears and all.

And at one point with more tears, Dennis said, “He said we would have trials and tribulations… but when will it end?

…Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world. -John 16:33

And through lots of tears, I told Dennis that I was sorry and I didn’t believe they would end here, but that it would end with Him.

Because that’s the Hope I hold on to for dear life, especially for times like this.

Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful. -Hebrews 10:23

I’m not sure why Dennis is homeless or why he was shot and became disabled. But I’m sure of Hope.

And this hope will not lead to disappointment. For we know how dearly God loves us, because he has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with his love. -Romans 5:5

And while Dennis was so grateful to receive food and clothing, I believe Hope is the greatest gift I had to offer him that day. And I needed it as much as he did.

Saying good-bye to him was gut-wrenching. Literally.

But three days later on my last day in San Francisco, I ended up back in the Tenderloin and found my friend in the same spot where I left him. And I’m so grateful we could have a little more time together sharing some smiles, shedding more tears and experiencing Hope that overflows.

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I pray that God, the source of hope, will fill you completely with joy and peace because you trust in him. Then you will overflow with confident hope through the power of the Holy Spirit. -Romans 15:13