Sunday, January 22, 2012


i don't journal much. but i am devoted to recording this adventure of a lifetime. i'm still in california, and in 11 days, i am going to be boarding a plane headed for hangzhou, china to spend three whole months learning about this culture, studying the people, and seeking God in this journey. appropriately, on chinese new year, i'm making my first post. before you hear about all my adventures, i'm going to give you the story on how this journey happened. i'm going to be honest about my feelings, and i may have some negative feelings. getting here has been a roller coaster of emotions. this past season of my life has been some of the times i have felt farthest from God. yet He continues to captivate my heart and soul and has time and time again renewed my faith.
lets rewind to january 2011, one year ago.
some of the most loving encouraging people i know.
i was an RA [resident advisor] and loving life! i finally felt like i was making a difference and i was growing so much in my spiritual walk. last Christmas break, I was so privileged to spend the holidays with my family in Colorado. i had numerous conversations with my mom, my step mom, and my sister about the decision to reapply to be an RA or apply to study abroad in south africa. i was really torn about the decision; i felt like God wanted to challenge me with culture, but i so badly wanted to be a part of residence life once again. after all, that year had challenged me, encouraged me, comforted me, and helped restore me. after much deliberation, prayer, and conversation with wise people, i chose to withdraw my application from rez life and apply to study abroad. to be honest i was already frustrated that i was giving up what i wanted to do in order to be obedient to the direction i felt God was pushing me toward.
i turned in my application and study abroad gave me a little postcard size flag of south africa. i posted it on my door. and i prayed. every day. i prayed for the people that would be going, that their hearts would be transformed by jesus in a remarkable way. i prayed for the people in africa, that they would be encouraged by the people they encountered. i prayed for my heart to be patient. i prayed for the school of nursing, that they would have wisdom in choosing the students that needed to encounter God in this way. i prayed for all kinds of things. this was one of the first times in my life that i prayed daily and intentionally. not just for south africa, but for everything going on around me. i felt so close to God, and felt that my obedience to the Lord was really being challenged in this journey.
and i waited, impatiently most days. and i was reminded daily, by this great fellow, to keep asking God for patience and wisdom.
fast forward to march. some of my favorite people and fellow RA's on my staff, who had re-applied, were notified that they had been "re-accepted" to be RA's for the following school year. i wanted to share in excitement for them, but honestly, i was jealous. and i cried. several times that day. and i talked to God and told Him how upset and jealous i was and just hoped that he would give me some comfort. but i didn't feel peace. not that day. but i kept on praying. for now at least.
skip to april. april fools day to be exact. i remember after meeting someone for coffee returning to my empty apartment to make lunch. while waiting for some water to boil, i checked my email.

i didn't cry. i didn't speak. i didn't call anyone. i ate my lunch in a stupor. and then i thought, "it's april fools; God, is this a joke?!"i'm glad i was alone for the next few hours. i ignored the text messages i got, and then the tears came. for the next hour i produced more tears than i knew existed. honestly, i was more upset that i had withdrawn my RA application then about south africa. and after an hour of crying, i stopped. and i washed my face and pulled it together. i decided i wasn't going to tell anyone that day. but my boyfriend is a smart guy. and somehow without saying anything, he knew. and without asking too many questions, he just said, "let's go". and we drove to santa monica in and out. and we ate in and out on the beach. and for those hours, it felt like that email didn't exist.

santa monica
if you look close enough you can see the puffy-ness under my eyes. of course i selected the picture that showed that feature the least. i think that this was one of the last days that i had joy for quite some time. i vividly remember spring break a few weeks later, feeling so lost, confused, upset, angry, trying to make sense of everything. i was extremely resentful of the people that had been selected to go, and i my self-worth disappeared and was replaced by this resentment. i couldn't understand why God would let this happen when i denied myself of what i wanted [RA] to 'obediently'  apply for south africa, only to be slapped in the face. i stopped praying. and naturally, when you aren't seeking the giver of joy, i grew angry and depressed. the next few months were rough, i was going through the motions of life, growing frustrated with everything, my job, school, my relationship. and i couldn't understand how it would get better. but things soon turned.
in late june, i got a phone call. rez life needed another RA for the upcoming year, and asked me if i was interested. i took the weekend to pray about it and think it over. but the moment i had hung up from the initial phone call, i knew what i was going to do. i finally had a smile on my face. and i hadn't felt excited about anything for weeks. stubbornly, i thanked God for being so gracious to me and helping me understand the importance of patience. i had peace and joy again. and i started year two as an RA.
and these people and this awesome journey called walkabout helped me make sense of the character of God during this time. and i know they will never know how their graciousness and positivity impacted my attitude. but it did. a lot. and God really blessed me with these people. 
and God continued to bless me with people who really made me feel like i mattered. i lost a lot of self- worth the past few months. but graciously, God used some really special people to restore much of that self worth. i got to share joy again with these people and began to understand love in action. 
    "Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. Be devoted to one another in love.    Honor one another above yourselves. Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord. Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. Share with the Lord’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality." -Romans 12:9-13
and these people were family when i needed it the most. this past semester was tough academically and emotionally. and shortly into the semester, i got into a funk again. i got an email about an opportunity to study abroad in china. and i don't know why, but a small little piece of me filled out the application. i didn't want to go and i found excuse after excuse to try and weasel my way out of it. 
i was an RA, i couldn't leave. i had to pay for school, i couldn't quit my job. i didn't want to spend another three months of my relationship long distance. i couldn't take all my classes. the list went on.
i guess God had other plans.
rez life allowed me to leave (i'm still not quite sure how the professional staff reacted/ feels, but my fellow staff-mates were SO encouraging). my mom reminded me about a bank account i had forgotten i had with just enough money to finance my last expenses plus some. my manager at work said that i could 'tentatively' return to work after china. my boyfriend told me i had to go or he wouldn't talk to me for the three months that i would be gone (probably not true, but he really wanted me to go). and the school of nursing approved the extra class i would need. 
so here i am, about to embark on the journey of a lifetime. and here's some things i need some prayer for:
1. that God would provide safety for the four of us going. 
2. that i will continue to give thanks for all the joy and grace that God has given me in the past year to get me to this place. 
3. excitement. there is still a large amount of doubt and fear i have been experiencing, keeping me from experiencing the fullness of joy that God has afforded me.  
4. healing. i just got bronchitis, and i'd really like to not cough and share my germs with my fellow plane-mates. 
5. motivation to learn some more chinese before i go!
6. and gratitude to the lovely Jordan (& Katie too) for giving me a bed until we leave!