Friday, April 23, 2010

Turkey Stuff(ing)

Here are some highlights of Turkey so far.

1.  I have been here three days and have yet to actually *eat* turkey.  Grin.
2.  I have, however, been LOVING the Mediterranean way of eating.  I have had loads of dried fruits, fresh veggies, different cheeses, fresh milk, eggs, and honey-covered desserts.  Yum.  I could eat this way the rest of my life.
3.  I can see the Mediterranean from my balcony.  Heaven.
4.  To the untrained ear, Turkish sounds an awful lot like a scandinavian language. 
5.  When language barriers can't be crossed, hand gestures and pointing works great!
6.  The Turkish people are very hospitable and nice.
7.  You know you are not in America when *everyone* smokes and it is done *everywhere,* even in the dining room while you are eating by the dining room workers!
8.  Turkey is an odd mix of different cultures.  I have seen some Indian influences, some Arab influences, and some Western influences.
9.  There is a mosque not too far from the hotel.  The call to prayer, five times a day, is an eerie sound.
10.  Turkey does not appear to have much of an Islamic fundamentalism.  I listened to a Christian radio station on my way to the hotel from the airport.  Much of what is on TV looks and feels very American (some are even American shows dubbed in Turkish) and European....some skin, tight clothes, etc.  Only the older women wear head scarves.  I have only seen one burqua and that was at the airport. 

On a few personal notes:
1.  This is the second international trip where jet lag has been little or no consequence.  I have been able to pretty seemlessly transition into Turkey time.  The first day I arrived at the hotel at 1.  By this time I had been away more than 24 hours (I cannot seem to sleep on planes.....anyone have any hints on HOW to?).  I took a couple hour nap, woke up, took a shower, ate, tried to get some work done and then was in bed by 9pm. I slept until 6 the next morning.  I was dragging by about 4pm the next day, but took a brief nap and then stayed awak until 10pm.  Today, the third day, I woke up at 6:30 and seem to be fine so far.

2.  I really do not like traveling alone.  My friend who was supposed to accompany me on the first leg of the journey had to cancel due to the volcano ash from the volcano erupting in Iceland (don't even ask me to pronounce it...Eyjafjallaj√∂kull, anyone? anyone?).  I was the first to arrive in Turkey from the crew working the conference.  Sigh.  Being here alone three days has been lonely and not so fun.  If the hotel was closer to downtown Istanbul (instead of over an hour away), it might be better because then I could actually go somewhere and see some sights.  Maybe the extra day at the end of the trip will make up for this if I can make it into downtown Istanbul.

That's all for now!

Blessings,
Erin

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Birthdays, Bios and Turkeys Oh My!

I have been thinking and praying more about this whole birthday thing from my earlier post.  I am pretty sure the whole reason I don't want to celebrate my birthday this year is because there is a part of me who feels like if I pretend it's not happening, then I'm not really a year older. In addition, I am also pretty certain I don't want to get my hopes up for some shin-dig and get disappointed. The last few years my birthday party has been very anti-climatic. I just don't want to repeat of the last few years. I know this isn't a good attitude to have because I am coming to the conclusion that we all need to be recognized by those closest to us.

For example, my bio and picture are NOT going up on any ministry web-site. I am actually *very* happy with this. In the past, I have really wanted to be acknowledged for what I do. My attitude about this has changed a lot in the last few years. It is not that I don't want to be loved and cherished....but that needs to come from individuals, those closest to me and the Lord, not from people I either barely know or don't know at all. I think about verses that talk about people who walk around showing off their accomplishments and how THAT is their reward (Matthew 6:2 "So when you give to the needy, do not announce it with trumpets, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and on the streets, to be honored by men. I tell you the truth, they have received their reward in full."). As humans we are created to be encouraged and loved,....to not do so is to be withheld from. But, we were not created to be worshiped. Any time I crave recognition, I am craving worship. So, on a public basis not to care if I am known for what I do is a good thing. On a private basis, we all need to be acknowledged and encouraged.  Which is why my apathy, bordering on hopelessness, regarding my birthday is probably not a good thing.  We all need to be celebrated.

On a slightly different note, I am now not going to be in Istanbul alone for a couple of days. A friend who works for an airline is shifting around her schedule to meet me in Istanbul for a couple of days before heading off to a couple of other countries. This is a *huge* answer to prayer.  Additionally, I am now only $85 short of my total amount needed for my half of the plane ticket.

Blessings,
Erin

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Rooted and Grounded

In nature, a tree that goes through periods of dryness is better able to withstand longer periods of dought as well as storms.  Times of dryness can stimulate roots to penetrate deeper into the soil in search of groundwater.  Trees that go through this are trees that are better able to survive drought and storms than those with shallow root systems. 

Some people have the gift of faith.  These people are like trees who have a tap root that grows down deep from the moment of germination.  When storms blow or drought comes, these people have this gift of faith to get them through. 

The rest of us, like me, have faith that needs growing and development.  Rather than being fully convinced from "germination," our faith has moments when we are fully conviced of the truth of God's character and have other moments when we doubt. For us, we need periods of dryness and drought to force our taproot down if we will seek the Lord in those moments instead of whithering up and dying.  The whole purpose of seasons of desert and drought are to cause our roots to go deeper in search for living water.  The deeper our roots have gone the easier it is to withstand bigger storms and longer drought, while those whose roots have not gone deep are easily uprooted.

Jeremiah 17:7-8 "But blessed is the man who trusts in the LORD, whose confidence is in him. He will be like a tree planted by the water that sends out its roots by the stream. It does not fear when heat comes; its leaves are always green. He has no worries in a year of drought and never fails to bear fruit."

Eph 3 "..that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the width and length and depth and height— to know the love of Christ which passes knowledge; that you may be filled with all the fullness of God."

A lot of my last few blog posts have probably come across a bit "bi-polar" as a result of my current "storm" in life.  The journey into believing the truth of God's character has been a bumpy/windy one especially the last two and half years, but more specifically the last few months, and I have not arrived at a place of peace with it yet. My taproot is still on its journey to deeper waters; growing, seeking, searching, and winding around the burried boulders in the way.

On the one hand I while I know the truth in my head, it has yet to fully penetrate my heart. Or, rather it penetrates it on some days (those are the joyful, excited posts) and not on others (when you get angry, disappointed posts like the one from last week).

In general, the body of Christ does not know how to handle people who are in seasons of the Lord allowing storms to come into their life.  There is no one but Him who can give any of us a greater amount of faith.  Anything good we have comes first from Him.....especially faith. (Eph. 2:8-9 For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast.) 

I need more faith.

Blessings,
Erin

Monday, April 12, 2010

The Path Less Traveled....

The further down the road of faith you get, the less traveled it is.  This means it can be lonely, dusty, unpaved, and bumpy.  Sometimes you might even have to get out your machete to clear the brush out of the way to see where you are going.

Friday, April 09, 2010

Twos and Threes

I am generally a pretty even-keeled kind of gal.  It takes a lot for me to get angry and I am generally pretty happy-go-lucky.  On my roughest days I tend more towards becoming quiet and introspective rather than outwardly angry or irritable.  The last few days for me have been uncharacteristically moody for me.

Usually I can chalk one day of feeling this way up to lack of sleep or not feeling well.  Both of these things were true earlier in the week.  However, the black cloud hanging over me has not lifted in three days now.

This should be a joyful time for me.  I just got great news about my house, my favorite season-spring-is here, I'm leaving for Turkey in a little over a week, I just found out I got a raise at work, my sister-in-law is about to give birth to my second nephew....but I am not joyful. Something just feels "off" to me right now.

I know that anger is a secondary emotion and that it's rooted in something else.  I know part of it is that I am a bit disappointed that the next season in my life is one where I am going to be venturing out on my own.  There is a real part of my heart that is still grieving over the fact that no matter what happens this September, I am being asked to do it by myself.  I know that wherever I go, there will be people there.  I won't be completely alone.  But, honestly, I have always hoped that someday when I was sent out, it would at least be with a friend. 

There are a lot of men and women who have gone before alone.  I wrote a post about this last August.  I don't know how they did it.  I think I have felt alone for so much of my life that the thought of being even *more* alone is almost physically painful. 

I think about Katie, the 21 year old in Uganda and I don't know how she does it.  I think about my friend Pete in Tokyo and I don't know how he does it.  I think about my friend Miki, virually alone in Japan, and I don't know how she does it.  And there are others I am sure I am leaving out.  How is it that these people and many others seem to be able to make a go of it alone, while I, who have been nothing but alone can't seem to get over this to feel joy?

I don't want to go alone.  Yet, the reality that I am probably going to go alone is becoming more and more tangible to me.  I think this is why I am on some days reluctant to leave....being as lonely as I have been these last few years, at least I have had housemates and family and co-workers.  I have hardly had a friend, but there have been enough moments of fellowship to keep me from going totally insane. 

Jesus sent His disciples out in twos and threes (Mark 6).  Ecclesiastes talks about a three-chord strand not easily broken.  The very trinity itself speaks to relationship.

There is a lot of emotion here, as I wrestle over the fact that the loneliness I have been living in for the last few years is not ending but quite likely going to continue.

Blessings,
Erin

Wednesday, April 07, 2010

It Has Arrived!

Yesterday, when I left for work, I overwhelmingly felt from the Lord that *this is the day you'll hear from your mortgage company.*  Sure enough, I logged onto my account and had this notice: "your paperwork was sent today, please sign and return your forms as soon as possible."  So, what should arrive via UPS today?  My mortgage modification documents.

I gleefully ripped them open and began wading through all of the terminology and numbers.  Basically, what it boils down to is this: I AM OVERWHELMINGLY FAVORED.  Seriously.  I was praying for a specific number.  This number meant that should I chose to walk away to missions, I could rent my house with no extra needing to be paid on it by me.  So, drumroll....my new mortgage payment is actually almost $150 lower than even this number.  What this means is that when I rent my house, I will actually be MAKING money off of the rent!  Can you get any better than that???

So, here's the bottom line.  I have some debt.  If I do this the way I think it will work out.  I can take the next six months, pay off my debt and even make a few upgrades to the house (stuff like adding a sprinkler system to make it easier to maintain when I am gone etc.) and be free and clear to go, if that's what I am going to do.

Now comes the hard part....what am I "going" towards?  I feel like this answer is a clear "yes" to going, but the bigger question is: what is my heart beating to go towards?  I feel like this whole process has been a big one for me in determining what exactly it is that I want to do.....do I want to "go" to Call2All?  Do I want to "Go" with YWAM and do a DTS?  Do I want to "Go" with some other missions organization?  Or, do I really "Go" out on a limb like the girl in my previous blog and do something really wild and crazy like move to Kenya and start my own orphanage?

Every time I pray about this, I feel like the answer will be so clear by September.  Not that I'll be gone by then, but that I'll know the answer by then.

Blessings,
Erin

Sunday, April 04, 2010

Blog Recommendation

I have been reading a blog for a while written by a woman in her early 20s who moved to Uganda about two and half years ago.  She moved there and has single-handedly adopted to date 14 orphans there.  She is in a third-world country, basically alone, with 14 kids (most of them special needs).  Reading her blog kills me.  Kills me in a good way.

This particular post, though, particularly struck me.  I have talked about the cost a lot in this blog recently, but I am realizing more and more that I have NO IDEA what it means to truly lose my life for the sake of Christ.  She really has given up everything for those kids.

I wept when I read it.  I was convicted.  I was ashamed (not in a bad way).  I was humbled. 

Erin