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

Why Japan?

February 17, 2012… after giving away everything but my car, I said good-bye to to these two favorites of mine…

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He said, “Go.

So I went.

And it proved to be beyond colorful.

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Everywhere I turned was a scene right off of a postcard.

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And He gave me a wonderful opportunity working on cutting edge technology in a super hip office while also filling the void of leaving my dog!

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Within a month, it was clear that the position was not a good fit, but some amazing connections were established while a key re-connection was made resulting in an inter-continental friendship, which began to flourish via Skype.

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And then, I was offered a great job at this place…

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Values I could easily stand behind…

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But, He had other plans…

I thought I would be planting roots in Colorado, but it turned out to be a much needed watering hole.

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And a launching pad to a continent I had never been with the opportunity to make more beautiful connections…

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And another key re-connection.

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But the deepest connection of all…

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My Father’s love for me sunk into my core.

I experienced His delight in me like never before in Mozambique… and I’ll never be the same.

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I know I can’t live one second without Him, so when it was clear He wanted me to go to Thailand, I went.

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And it was in Bangkok that the desire to live overseas began to burn inside of me. So within a month, my car was packed all over again.

And Colorado bid me farewell with this…

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Surprised by His love, He led me forth, breaking open the way into a beautiful broad place! I’m rescued! All because He delights in me! Psalm 18:19
And I received a warm welcome back to Arizona…

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And an even warmer welcome into the Valley of the Sun.

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And in less than a month, I will journey onward from the Valley of the Sun to the Land of the Rising Sun…

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When you let go of all that you ever thought and all that you had, you open yourself up to all that you are and receive more than you ever thought was possible.

Trust me… better yet, trust Him… and brace yourself for the ride of your life…

The thief’s purpose is to steal and kill and destroy. My purpose is to give them a rich and satisfying life. John 10:10

The joy of a sandwich

As I get caught up in doubt, anxiety, and fear… it’s just like my Heavenly Father to pour out His grace on me and bless me in every way imaginable.

When I doubted that I would receive the financial support for my trip and missions school in Mozambique, within four days, the amount I was lacking was fulfilled!!!

Big sigh… and really?

But, OF COURSE!!!! Oh me of little faith!!!

The checks I received and words of encouragement that came with them blessed my heart in ways I cannot even put into words. I’m just humbled, so very humbled by God’s love for me through the people He has placed in my life.

And while I will return to Colorado on December 8, it’s unclear how long I will be here, so I want to make sure I make the best of the time I have in this great state.

This past weekend I climbed my first 14er – a mountain that is 14,000 or more feet high and Colorado boasts 58 of these peaks in six different ranges – Mount Bierstadt 14,065ft.

The climb was tough, but I was so grateful to have a dear friend to keep me going!  At the beginning of the hike, she casually stated, “We’ve got this, we’ve so got this.” And she continued to encourage me along the way, as did many others we passed!

Sarah and I basked in the beauty and vastness of God’s creation the entire day, while also sharing the parallels of our hike and faith. Good stuff and great times.

And just when I thought the summit was in sight and I gave everything I had to get to it, I collapsed on this boulder when I realized I still had a little further to go… poor pathetic me!!!

I saw the following quote after the fact that seemed so fitting for this picture: The moment you’re ready to quit is usually the moment right before the miracle happens. Don’t give up.

Though exhausted and feeling defeated, I pressed on and was soon sitting on the mountain top enjoying an egg salad sandwich. And life in that moment could not have been better. My profound words to Sarah were, “I’m sooooooooo happy right now eating this sandwich and sitting on top of the world!!!”

I love Jesus so much. No doubt all things are from Him through Him and to Him.

So as I am completely overwhelmed by the wonder and amazement of His love and provision…

And His creation and glory…

I don’t EVER want to take anything in this life for granted… I want to be in awe of Him in all things… to experience the fullness of life He promised…

So an egg salad sandwich enjoyed in His presence with gratefulness makes me the most blessed of all.

For from Him and through Him and to Him are all things. To Him be the glory forever. Amen. Romans 11:36

My Rock

I am so hungry for affirmation.

What’s wrong with me? I want to be so comfortable in my own skin. Inside and out.

But dang, you know what’s worse? What’s worse is when I actually receive affirmation and it doesn’t do anything for me.

What then? I drive myself nuts.

And that’s why. Why I MUST look to Him. MY ROCK, MY SALVATION. He is solid and secure and unmoving. And He saves me from myself.

Because believe you me, I need rescuing. And He does it over and over again.

And I’m grateful.

Thank you, Jesus.

The LORD lives, and blessed be MY ROCK, and exalted be the God of MY SALVATION— Psalm 18:46

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What is He saying?

So much to write, not sure where to begin… I’m chuckling inside thinking about how the seemingly important things in life are just not what I feel most compelled to share. That is, the update on work, where I’ll live, etc. Actually, I am going to share a little but it’s so secondary…

Since my last update, I learned from that particular Apple Store that they were not interested in moving forward with me. I knew it wasn’t a good fit and I admit, the old me would have wanted their approval… dare I say, needed it?! I’m pleased to say that this approval-seeking girl is becoming all grown up!!

And then, I heard from the University of Denver… they did want me!!! BUT, this bratty little girl has had her mind on missions school that she couldn’t be immediately grateful and overjoyed by this opportunity!! Oh Lord, have mercy! And of course, He does… He loves me in my grumbling and even sustains me in the midst of it (Exodus 16).

A few days ago I had a lunch date with a dear and beautiful friend who I’ve met since moving to Colorado and we shamefully admitted our Israelite ways. And she also shared a story of becoming reacquainted with someone by asking, “What is God speaking to your heart these days?”

So in my quality time (because this is hands down my love language) with Jesus this morning, I want to let you in on our dialogue…

Me: What are you saying to me, Lord?

Him: Fear not, for I have redeemed  you; I have called you by name, you are mine… Because you are precious in my eyes, and honored, and I love you… (Isaiah 43: 1,4)

Me: Thank you that you are my Father who delights in me and approves of me.

Him: I will make you my wife forever, showing you righteousness and justice, unfailing love and compassion. I will be faithful to you and make you mine, and you will finally know me as Lord. (Hosea 2:19-20)

Me: Thank you for being my Husband who provides and loves me unconditionally.

Him: O barren one, you who did not bear; break forth into singing and cry aloud, you who did not travail with child! For the [spiritual] children of the desolate one will be more than the children of the married wife… (Isaiah 54:1)

Me: Thank you for making me a mother.

When I decided to follow Him to Colorado, I felt a lot like Abraham responding to the call to simply, “Go.” And I came not knowing exactly where or what. And along the way, I have begun to jump ahead anticipating where He is taking me, placing trust in my expectations and hoping in what I feel is best.

And in times like this, I always hear Him say, My thoughts are completely different from yours… And my ways are far beyond anything you could imagine. For just as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts higher than your thoughts. (Isaiah 55:8)

This morning He also reminded me that, In returning and rest you shall be saved; in quietness and in trust shall be your strength. (Isaiah 30:15)

God called me to Colorado and I came unsure of just where I would land… I thought it was Colorado Springs and recently I was sure it was Boulder (and to put it all out there, I have started to believe it was just transition on the way to Mozambique, Africa!). And I have been sitting in Psalms 107 since the end of last year and verses 4-7 say this:

Some wandered in the desert, lost and homeless. Hungry and thirsty, they nearly died. “Lord, help!” they cried in their trouble, and He rescued them from their distress. He led them straight to safety, to a city where they could live.

While I have enjoyed my time in Denver, it was never where I thought He would have me… and I still hesitate to fully settle in. I’m not sure why but I continue to take things one day at a time, trusting that His ways are so much higher…

And so my response to all of this?

Now to Him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, to Him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen. (Ephesians 3:20-21)

New York

Don’t let the title mislead you. I’m not off to New York… but I am now officially a Colorado girl!

And to kick off my status as a Coloradoan, I want to share a video with you.

The context: Mindy, Olaf and I had just finished cleaning and clearing out the condo we were renting together in Scottsdale. As soon as we pull out of the complex, one of my most favorite songs, mainly because it has a beat that just gets me moving and makes me happy, as you’ll see… ((enter Jay-Z, Empire State of Mind)). But there are some encouraging lyrics, too!

While I’m full of joy in this video, I must admit that the last week and half since has been really hard. But I’m learning to draw on God’s strength like never before and trying to rest in the reality that major transitions just come with that. Thankfully, I’ve captured this moment that truly epitomizes one of the dearest relationships I left behind… me and my Pinzie.

You might not be able to hear everything, but you’ll get the gist… me being loud and obnoxious and her just dealing with it. ;-) She does warn me of the hazard I could be causing other drivers as the light is much brighter than I perceive it to be. And then she happens to point out, “You’re not going to New York!”

But hey, can’t I find a “concrete jungle where dreams are made” and “where there’s nothing you can’t do” in Colorado?

I say, yes!

Stay tuned!

Debbie Downer

For starters, no offenses to the Debbies of the world…

I actually have one in mind who definitely doesn’t fit this description!

And it’s not that I’m feeling totally down, but it has been a LONG week, I’m tired and I’m about to wrap up all things in Scottsdale starting today and make this move official and final. So, I’m just feeling all kinds of feelings right now.

And I love that I just posted a picture on Facebook of me for one, not looking so great, for two, not smiling! I feel like I’m only to share the joyful me for all to see. But in keeping it real, there are other sides to me!

Oftentimes, I can’t really pinpoint what I’m feeling. This morning, confusion is what I’ll call it. And I’ll say I don’t doubt for one second my move to Colorado. I LOVE it there and my heart is at peace.

But… it’s definitely peace amidst some challenges. And let’s just say, not how I imagined things to be!

The job I took? It is streeeetching me emotionally and mentally. I’m working for a technology start-up. We’re developing a platform for smart phones that at the end of the day should help people have richer, healthier relationships. It’s cutting edge, it’s a great cause… I’ve been hired to help with the Customer Care aspect of it all.

But, there’s not a lot of structure (which I thrive in) and the hours have been longer than I anticipated (which I’m complaining about an area I probably need to establish more boundaries in!). It’s like learning a whole new language for me, so imagine not really understanding much of what is being discussed on a day to day basis. And, I’m being asked to do work that I know isn’t an area of strength for me.

But then, I get to dress super casual and dogs are running around the office, and I can take a break and walk right outside the office building and grab a coffee or whatever I feel like eating at all the great places within a five minute walk. And the mountains are always in the background. And the people are really great and make me laugh…

Oh, and this week, I moved into a super cool house in Denver. It’s over 100 years old with lots of character. And whenever I share the location with anyone, so far they’ve each responded with how much I will love the area! So, it’s a great one… but it’s a four bedroom with two bathrooms, and limited hot water supply. So I have to coordinate with my other roommates each night the shower schedule and I’m moving my toiletries from one place to the next… and did I mention the 40-minute commute to work?

But, the three women I live with are AMAZING and have sweet, sweet hearts.

So why can’t I focus on all the good and leave out the bad?

Grateful today that God’s grace is enough. And grateful that I’m loved even when I know I have so much to be grateful for and I’m feeling the way I do.

And I hate whining and complaining… but I’m doing it here, anyway, for all to see.

Thanks, God, for loving the ‘Debbie Downer’ in me.

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It’s the little things in life

Second to the mountains, one of my most favorite things about Colorado are the 8 oz. servings of coffee I can order in most coffee shops. Not only is it the perfect amount for me, but they’re just so darn cute!! I thought it was most fitting to capture the size in comparison to one of Joshua’s sippy cups! (Joshua is the precious son of my friend Julie, who I’ve been staying with since I moved here.)

Truly, I just light up at the sight and sip of these little things every time!

And of course, I light up at the sight of this little one every time! I’ll miss seeing his little face each day!

Joshua – about to be a big brother any day!!

PS. I am moving to a place in Denver today. More to come on that!
PSS. I know I still need to fill you in on the details of my job… stay tuned!

Me+Mountains=Love

Before making the move to Colorado, on every visit, I just knew in my heart that there was something special about this place. And I’m so grateful that I’m here and I get to experience the beauty it offers on a daily basis.

In fact, I’m writing this from Whole Foods, where I get this view:

Truly, what did I do to deserve this? Nothing at all. sigh… God just loves me that much.

Before arriving here to have some lunch, I sat poolside at my friend’s athletic club, where I met a precious woman named Helena. She shared how grateful she was for the view (similar to the one I’m facing here) and the blue skies.

Since I’ve been here for just over three weeks, I’m awestruck every time I look at the mountains, but Helena was originally from the Czech Republic and has been living here for thirty years! Oh that the wonder of the mountains would never fade for me…

And so today, I’m incredibly grateful for the majestic mountains, the beautiful blue skies, and the strong sunshine… and to top it off…

I’m grateful for the new job I’m starting tomorrow in Boulder! I look forward to sharing more about this exciting opportunity, but for now, know that I’m employed!

I must admit, I was giving myself about three months to land a job before looking for a coffee shop willing to employ me! Instead, three weeks… and did I mention, I actually had two job offers?

Truly, what did I do to deserve this? Nothing at all… sigh. God just loves me that much.

Yeah I’m the Wanderer…

Yeah, the Wanderer

I roam around, around, around…

Ok, this song is totally in my head right now because it’s sooooo me! Well, kinda sorta… minus the part about being a ladies’ man!

It is Thursday afternoon and here I am, at some coffee shop I stumbled upon in Denver for a pit stop as I’m driving through from ‘the Springs’ (look at me, using the local lingo!) to Boulder today… because, I can do that!

So we’re just past the hump day and I’ve slept in three different beds this week… hold on, like I said, the Wanderer song doesn’t fully apply here! Let me explain…

First couple of nights were spent in Boulder with my dear friend Jules and her family. This is where I have been since arriving to Colorado and it has been great!

Then, on Tuesday I was off to the Springs for a job interview and was invited to stay the night at an awesome family’s home there in order to be spared the  four hours it would take to drive there and back in one day! Seriously, it pays to know awesome people who know other awesome people. I was connected to this family through a friend in Scottsdale. They were also the reason I scored the interview, and then, to top it off, they fed me dinner, let me watch the latest Voice episode, and gave me a comfy, warm room to lay my head! And did I mention they double as a virtual tour guide?!

They provided me with a mapquest link of about eight different places to visit (also in the email was personal insight noted with each location) to give me a feel for the city! And so off I went, wandering around! Again, taking a pit stop in a local coffee shop where I got online and discovered a Holy Yoga class taking place this morning and decided to reach out to the instructor via Facebook and introduce myself. Well, wouldn’t you know… that turned into a phone call and another invite from a ‘stranger’ for a nice place to stay for the night.

So I had a yummy Mediterranean meal from a pseudo-fast food spot called Garbanzo (great name, huh?) and decided to take my new friend up on her offer. Of course, she was amazing and so was her family, and I attended her incredible Holy Yoga class (live music and all!) before hitting the road back to Boulder.

Seriously, am I so very blessed or what? I could get used to this wandering life…

PS. The job interview went really great!

PSS. While on a tour of the Olympic Training Center, I believe I may have been hit on by a military man. I guess after ten years, it’s hard to tell. Or maybe, that’s why I’m still single!! Unfortunately, he seemed to be a bit old for me and not really my type (whatever that is!), but I let him know how grateful I was for his service!

PSSS. I did meet another male named Murphy who I got pretty close and personal with…