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January 28, 2013

Eloi eloi lama sabachthani?

In the 9th hour, Jesus cried out from the cross: "אֵלִי אֵלִי, לָמָה עֲזַבְתָּנִי"  This is the Hebrew text taken from Psalm 22, the Greek translation being "Eloi Eloi lama sabachthani," which in English is, "My God, My God why have you forsaken me?"

The psalmist and Jesus both cry this out.  It's something that we all at some point feel like we can cry out.  Sometimes our soul is languished with pain and we just want to know where God is.  Because Christ was actually forsaken by God on the cross as to take on the punishment of our sin we more so relate to the psalmists feeling of being forsaken by God.

Right now my soul is in languish.  I'm so confused.  I feel like screaming out, "Eloi eloi lama sabachthani?"  I know He hasn't forsaken or abandoned me; I just can't figure out what He's up to.  I know that He has brought me to where I am in life, and I know that what is happening in my life is a blessing.  But at the same time, those blessings are putting me in a position where from my point of view I will no longer be able to be in the place He has brought me.  I know our God is a God of paradox, but I don't like being in one of those paradoxes.  God, what are you up to?  What is the meaning of the blessings in my life causing me to no longer be in the place where you have brought me?  I don't get it.  I don't know what to do.  I'm scared.  I feel forsaken.

Lord, I know You are with me and I know that You are working though I cannot see what all You are doing.  I know You have plans for me, please give me some insight so I know the direction to go.  Give me some confirmation that I am still supposed to be standing here and that Your blessings aren't contradictory.  Help me trust you, Lord.  I believe, help my unbelief.  Amen.

January 21, 2013

Scary

Life can be scary.  If you read our last blog post, you saw some of the things going on with Marie and me.  We have a lot on our plate, and it just seems to be being piled upon.  It is scary.  But, through the darkness there shines a light.  Even though life is scary and a lot of things are going on right now, I know that my Redeemer lives and that He is here for both Marie and I.  Through the darkness there are blessings.  Sometimes the difference between "a blessing" and "a curse" is a matter of perspective.  Live is precious in all its forms.  It is a blessing in itself no matter the difficulties it brings.  Thank you, Lord, for this life you have given to us.  Help us have the strength and trust in you to follow after you with passion.  Thank you, Lord.  Amen.

January 18, 2013

January 18

It's Friday and I'm feeling quite a bit overwhelmed. Several different things have occurred in January alone (yes, I'm well aware that we are only 18 days into this month) and all of which are proving to be very stressful.

First, our lease is up at the end of February, a scant month-ish away. We're still working on trying to find a new place. While our landlord will let us stay a month or so longer if needed, we really need to give notice that we are moving, which we are scared to do without another place lined up. We are also still working to get our toilet fixed. We've been at this issue for a month now. It's well past acceptable for it to still not be fixed.

Second, Timothy's classes are getting more demanding so I'm seeing less of him. He's learning the style of paper each professor wants from him, which has led to several of the papers needing to be rewritten. Schoolwork is somewhat mediated by the fact that he's on campus most of the day, so he has an opportunity to work on it there, but he's exhausted when he gets home. I feel like I'm seeing less of him.

Third, Timothy is now working every Saturday at the school store. In late December, the student services department was reorganized and the school store had to give up one student worker. Thankfully Timothy kept his job, but it comes with missing a 4-hour portion of each Saturday. We no longer have this time to hang out or run errands together so a lot more is falling on my plate too.

Fourth, I got to play run-around-with-a-government-department. At the end of December, Timothy and I applied for Food Stamps. Even with earning enough volunteers bucks to be able to visit the Food Bank on campus twice a month, we were hurting for food. We were eating a lot of creative and very unhealthy meals. Since this program is meant to help get healthy foods back on to our plates, we applied. In early January I received a letter stating I missed an interview with our benefits eligibility specialist, an interview that I received no notice of. I then spent a week incessantly calling this representative before finally completing the interview. (Side note: I originally reached her and scheduled another interview, but she was unavailable at that time so I had "missed" two interviews.) January 11, I received a letter requesting proof of various items in our application. By January 17, I had to get this all to the office or my application would be denied. I got everything faxed on the 14th and then had to gather more information that was not originally requested to fax later that day. With working full-time, I did not have an opportunity to make it to the office. We were approved for benefits on the 16th, one day before the deadline. I know we will receive a lot of looks when we use the Food Stamps at the grocery store, but we needed help making sure we are eating right.

Fifth, I received news at work (Concordia Plan Services) that I was not progressing quickly enough on the microfiche project. This is largely due to the fact that I am pulled off of this project to assist with any other minute task going on that day. I was told that unless things change, the project may be cancelled (which also means that I lose my job). My boss, thankfully, is 100% behind me keeping this job so we talked to the others in my work group so that they understand what I need to be doing. This past week I was able to do nothing but work on the microfiche project. Hopefully, it will now be progressing fast enough for the higher ups.

Sixth, we have been the confidants for several issues that have popped up in both our family's and friends'. While we are not at liberty to share any details, helping each person through their own crisis has been tough, as well as scary.

I am thankful that I do have the day off on Monday (thank you Martin Luther King, Jr.). I don't think I will be doing much recuperating, but I have hope that this may be the case.

January 11, 2013

60 degrees in St. Louis in January

Today has been a gorgeous day. I got to walk to work again because the weather is wonderful. Currently, my clock at work tells me it is 60 outside. It's bright and sunshiny. I've been watching out the windows most of the day.

But it has also got me thinking about just how blessed I am to be living right now. This is such a wonderful day to enjoy (although I do wish I was outside instead of inside). The gray of winter has melted away for one short day before we return to freezing temperatures (but try not to think about that). I will be seeing lots of friends tonight that I haven't seen since before Christmas festivities and breaks. It's just a good day to be alive!

January 6, 2013

Prayer of my Heart

Sometimes I get so scared.
Am I in the right place?
Can God really use me?
Does He want to use me?
I feel so ill equipt.
Who am I?
What do I know?
No one will listen to me.
I'm nothing special.
Nothing spectacular about me.
I'm weak and unable.
Lord, is it really me you are calling?
I can't lead people to you.
I don't know how.
I'm a poor miserable sinner unworthy to utter Your Name.
I'm so small, so insignificant.
I could never do great things.

But you raise up the low and make low the proud.
You use the foolish to shame the wise.
What are your plans for me, Lord?
I know nothing, but where You send me I will go.
Where you lead me I will follow.
You will not forsake or abandon me, Lord.
You took my sin and washed it in Your blood.
You have made me pure and white.
You have freed me from bondage.
In Your eyes I am righteous and able.
You have made plans for me.
You equip me to do Your will.
Help me not to fear, Lord.
Make me strong and steady.
Help me hold onto Your promises.
With You, nothing is impossible.
Let me be your vessle.
Mold me in Your hands, Lord.
For You have claimed me.
You have numbered me among your own.
So let me suffer at your side.
Give me the courage to seek the lost.
Give me the words to heal the hurting.
Give me the passion to love the broken.
Give me the wisdom to lead Your sheep.
In Your name, Lord, I pray.
Amen.

January 4, 2013

Almost one year ago

Almost one year ago now I married my best friend. It's been a rollercoaster of a year. Here's a look at some of the highlights:

January:
-Married on the 7th
-Marie is back to teaching on the 9th
-Separated on the 16th to live the first four months of marriage apart
-Marie continues school at Ball State; Timothy continues work at Old Navy

February:
-Signed a lease on our first apartment :) But Timothy moves in alone
-Timothy is forced out of Old Navy, entering 6 months of unemployment
-Marie finished data collection for her thesis!
-Marie's dog Kona passed away.

March:
-Marie sees apartment for the first time during spring break
-Timothy studies for the seminary competency exams

April:
-Marie's grandmother passed away on Easter, leading to a marathon road trip to Nebraska
-Marie's thesis is finished and defended!
-Timothy's dog Pugsey passed away.

May:
-Marie graduates and moves to St. Louis! Together at last!
-Timothy passes all competency exams and prepares for summer classes.

June:
-Timothy starts at the seminary with Greek classes.
-Marie continues to look for work.
-We run our first 5k together.

July:
-Timothy's grandmother passed away.
-Marie's thesis is accepted to the National Communication Association annual conference.
-Timothy starts work at the Campus Store.

August:
-Timothy passes Greek and jumps in the fountain on campus.
-Marie starts at Concordia Historical Institute.

September:
-Timothy starts Hebrew classes.
-Marie starts at Concordia Plan Services.
-Marie joins the St. Louis Civic Orchestra.
-We start as Fieldworkers at Our Savior Church in Fenton.

October:
-Timothy participates in his first service at our fieldwork church.
-Marie ran her first 10k.
-We volunteer as zombies in the Zombie Survival Dash.

November:
-Timothy passed Hebrew!
-Road trip to Florida for NCA presentation and Thanksgiving with Marie's parents.
-Start first real seminary classes!

December:
-Our first Christmas together :)
-We volunteer at Urbana 2012.

January 7: We will celebrate our first anniversary!

December 2012 Newsletter

Here is our December 2012 Newsletter!  If you would like to get on the e-mail list, let me know!!!

https://docs.google.com/open?id=0B1_VZ4uHFT3zU1EwODNaX1lHdXM

January 3, 2013

Back to School

As fun as break was, it's time to go back to school.  I pray that God continues to work over my life as I learn more about Him.  His Holy Spirit has been kindling the flame that He started three years ago and may it keep burning through seminary and may it burn brightly as a raging fire on into the field as Marie and I begin our ministry.

January 2, 2013

Urbana '12 Reflections

InterVaristy Christian Fellowship is a mission minded, interdenominational, cross-cultural ministry that ministers to college students all over the globe.  Marie and I were first introduced to IVCF at our college, Bradley University in Peoria, IL.  For those of you who know Marie's and my college story, you know that our experience with our local chapter was a bit rough but my Junior year of college I heard about Urbana, the global student missions conference held every 3 years right here in St. Louis.  I knew that I enjoyed Cedar Campus, a meeting of the chapters from the region every summer, so I figured I would check out Urbana.  A small group from our chapter went to Urbana '09 and Marie and I both fell in love.

During that conference my heart was ripped apart and ached so badly as I learned about how very much alive and flourishing slavery and human trafficking industry is to this day.  I heard story after story of women trapped is sex slavery in India, Vietnam, Cambodia, and a bunch of other countries including the United States.  I also learned of children forced into heard labor all over the world making bricks or going into the forest to gather coco or making products for our consumeristic ways.  I also learned of the tragedy of kids also being kidnapped from their homes and taken and forced to fight for ruthless dictators.  The theme for this conference was "Incarnational Living" and based in the Gospel of John.  They encouraged us to go to work in the mission field to live and work among those we were helping both here and abroad.

Three years later, Urbana '12 came around and Marie and I were more than prepared.  We both volunteered as Stewards meaning we were helping out all week, and on call when we didn't have an assignment.  If we weren't working, we were free to attend whatever parts of the conference that we wished.  This year the theme was "The Great Invitation" based in the Gospel of Luke.  The central motif was the invitation to God's banquet.  They asked, "Are you ready to accept God's invitation to His banquet?"  I learned even more about missions and I have been convinced that Marie and I are not being called to a comfortable living.  I do not yet know where we are to be called, all I know is that I am supposed to finish my seminary training and then who knows where God will call me from there.  I always thought it would still be within the United States, but there are so many people out there who don't even know the name of Christ much less what He has done for them.  There are so many people hurting and suffering and need someone to come live alongside them and be Christ's witness to them.  I don't know if we will be called overseas, or if we will be called to a congregation here in the United States that raises up missionaries and cultivates lifestyles of missional living.  I don't know, but I am both terrified and excited to see what God's plans are for our lives.