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What a Ride…

It’s been a little over 4 weeks since I last wrote and God has taught me a lot in that time! That said, I will be sharing one thing, one post at a time this upcoming week. He is so good!

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My sweet friend Chloe Jordan sent me that little note enclosed with a support letter telling me of her upcoming move to Africa. Her journey of obedience with the Lord testifies one thing: God works all things together for the good of those who love him. Her blog testifies to the mighty works of our Lord: http://belovedadventurer.blogspot.com/  That aside, this is a picture of all of my prayer journals from May 8th, 2010 through April 14, 2012.

That’s a lot of prayer, and as could be expected, a lot of God’s answers. It has, without question, been quite a ride. Here lately God provided ample time to reflect on all that He has done in my life over the past 2 years… along with the beauty of vulnerability (something I do not like at all, but am being taught to both practice and enjoy)

That said, please hear and see all that the Lord has done– may the reverberating message of my story be that He is good, He deals with his children very personally, and that He chooses better for us than we could possibly choose for ourselves.

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Brown Leather Journal: May 8, 2010– May 15, 2011

I started this prayer journal the day I graduated from undergrad. I was at Gulley Park in Fayetteville crying my eyes out upon the realization that I had no idea what I was going to do with my life or where I would end up; oh, me of little faith! (2 years later not much has changed, I’m just laughing instead of crying.) This was the first time Proverbs 31:25 caught my eye: “She is clothed with strength and dignity; she can laugh at the days to come.” I remember thinking ‘It’s easy to laugh at the days to come when you have a relative idea of what they are going to look like.’ Here’s what my first prayer of this new season said:

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Little did I know when I started began this journey ‘laughing at the days’ and ‘hoping in God alone’ would be the themes of that entire year and the year to follow. After graduation I went to work at the Pine Cove Shores where I made several dear friends, one of which was ‘all my love, Chloe’, and I began dating a fella from Tennessee. Went into camp single and friendless; left camp with friends and a boyfriend. Here’s to expecting the unexpected!

After leaving camp I immediately started grad school working toward my Master’s of Arts in Teaching. The rest of the year consisted of a lot of grading papers, thesis (action research) writing, and attempting to ‘do’ a long distance relationship. Oh, did I mention a whole lot of relying on my own strength and putting hope in relationships and career goals? Go ahead and add that to the mix. Recipe for disappointment? Better believe it.

[He is indescribably kind to let us taste disappointment when we misplace our hope.]

As the year progressed, so did my fondness of the fella. In hope that our relationship would continue on the course that we wanted, I decided not to teach the year following my graduation in May 2011, and rather to spend about 8 months somewhere doing something before moving where he was… with a new last name, of course. Cue the Kanakuk Institute… 8 months; Branson, MO; studying the Bible… and I could get a master’s in Biblical Studies through JBU! Perfect.

So my plan was set: May-August: Pine Cove.  September-April: Kanakuk Institute. April- the rest of my life: with the fella

Major take aways from this season of my life:

1. Psalm 147:11 “The Lord delights in those who fear him, who put their hope in his unfailing love.”

2. Proverbs 16:9 “In his heart man plans his course, but the Lord determines his steps.”

3. Hebrews 13:8 “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.”

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 Red-Orange Journal: May 15, 2011– September 30, 2011Image

As you can see, this journal took less time to fill than the one before. That might be because I was praying significantly more often. That’s certainly not because I needed God more– my need for him never changes. It’s just that I became significantly more aware of just how much I needed Him.

A few minor, plan-altering details happened during this journal:

We broke up in late July at camp.

The master’s in Biblical studies emphasis was no longer offered at KI.

I found out 2 days before the program started.

I was going to be stuck in Branson for 8 months.

While these seem relatively petty, and are relatively petty I suppose, at the time I felt overwhelmingly trapped in a quirky tourist town where no one knew me or my situation. The last page in this journal… 2 weeks into the Institute… ends exactly like the last page of the previous journal. Coincidence? not so much.

Take aways from this season of my life:

1. Lamentations 3:21-24 “The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. “The Lord is my portion,” says my soul, “therefore I will hope him him.”

2. Sometimes the Lord’s mercy comes in a severe package. At the time, did I want to break up with the fella? No way! But I can now see that God was being so relentlessly merciful to both the fella and me, and allowed me to hurt for a little while so that I would experience what is best– what he has chosen for me. Afflictions eclipsed by glory.

3. The Lord is unchanging and thus the only thing I should hope in. I am a great sinner, and Christ is a great savior. Hosea 2… this sums up my story with God. Praise Him for not letting me catch that which I chase apart from Him.

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Pink Journal: October 2, 2011– November 7, 2011

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This was a sweet season of singing praises to the Lord. He heals and He restores! He entrusted to me situations where I would come to know Him as healer and restorer! Praise God that I can testify to his sufficiency. There is hope. This was one of the first seasons that I began reading the Bible to see what it said about God, not what it said about me… Let it be known that reading the word this way is life giving! I felt like I couldn’t put it down for the first time. Along with my study of the Scripture, as prompted by the Institute, came a deeper knowledge of God and so a deeper reverence or fear of God. That fear of God fueled my love for God; my fear and love of God combined made me desire Him more. What a lovely cycle!

Take aways from this season of my life:

1. Psalm 37:4 “Delight in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart.” This does not mean he will give me my heart’s desires, but rather that he will put desires into my heart that will be fulfilled as I delight in Him– not things for him, not people who love him, not my church or the institute, not in what he has done for me– in Him. May I ever delight in Him and intentionally neglect delighting elsewhere.

2. Psalm 111:10 “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.” How can we not fear him? “if you, O Lord, should mark iniquities, O Lord, who could stand? But with you there is forgiveness, that you may be feared.”

3. Romans 8:28 “And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good,”

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Red Journal: November 8, 2011– January 24, 2012

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This season God began to open my eyes and heart to recognize all that he had done over the past year and a half. I want to be a good steward of my story; I get to testify to the sovereign hand of God and his divine orchestration of my life! May I never forget, nor ever shut up about all that He has done.

Take away from this season:

1. Remember all that the Lord has done.

2. Deuteronomy 4:9 “Only take care, keep your soul diligently, lest you forget the things that your eyes have seen, and lest they depart from your heart all the days of your life. Make them known to your children and your children’s children.”

3. Psalm 116:7 “Be at rest once more, O my soul, for the Lord has been good to you.”

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Blue Target Travel Journal: January 26, 2012– April 14, 2012

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This journal marked the home stretch of the Institute. This pup traveled with me to Israel and has a yellow flower pressed in one of the pages. Now, I have never done anything like that before, and always thought it to be cheesy, but I am grateful that I did it now. We got to sit on the Mount of Beatitudes where Jesus taught in the ‘mountainside classroom’. The mountainside is brushed with yellow flowers and overlooks the sea of Galilee; it is absolutely gorgeous. I couldn’t help but take it personally that the flowers were yellow– as if God made it that way just for me. I know that the nearly everyone loves yellow flowers and am  aware that God most likely did not make those yellow just for me. But I am convinced that He has given me a place in my heart with extra appreciation for yellow flowers, and so I take it personally anyway. I will never forget that place, and I pray that I never forget this year. It is an Ebenezer stone of sorts– representing that the Lord has brought me this far, and He will see me through whatever is to come. This has brought much hope and rest as I look ahead to the next season of my life.

Take aways from this season:

1. Matthew 5: Beatitudes 

2. Job hunt: His eye is on the sparrow, how much more will he provide for me? As the year began to wind down, the job hunt began to spike. I am still looking, but not worrying. His eye is on the sparrow– how much more is it on me? Cue Lauryn Hill’s duet from Sister Act II. 

3. Philippians 1:6: Carrying out the good work

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This is a picture of the last page of this journal… which I reached the last day of the Institute. Coincidence? Not a chance! I take great comfort in this quote as with Philippians 1:6– He will carry out the good work that He began, and we are all continually being cleansed. Praise, Praise, Praise God!

There it is. How can I but praise him, trust him, and laugh at the days to come?

What a ride.

Here’s to laughin’,

Sarah

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