A Sister’s Sanctification on Saturday

I thought earlier this week that it would be fun to bring my little sister Tori up to my small group retreat at the leader’s cabin. Last time it was just me and her for the week (when mom, dad and spencer were on spring break) she went to youth group with the Wicklunds Girls who are the same age. (This week they are on the youth group mission trip in colorado again with Spencer). I thought she would have fun but then thought maybe it wasn’t a good idea because she has premier tryouts today and I knew she would want to get a good night sleep. Although we planned to only be at the cabin till 9, dinner on the lake is never a 5-6pm kind of thing. I asked Tori what she thought and we went back and forth but eventually decided it would be fun (with the help of my mom, that going to bed alone would not be wise). We agreed that coming home a little early would be best even if that meant potentially missing out on some of the more serious small group time for me.

Tori and I
Tori and I About to Tube

Setting out in the morning to drive just the two of us was really sweet and we were excited to go tubbing and swim all day. She started to get tired after being on the boat all afternoon and was nervous about being in the sun too long, out in the water too much and not being ready for today. (She is quite the rule follower and gets stressed about things like that.) Since dinner was pretty late, although fun, she was getting more nervous about not being able to leave at 8pm at the very latest like we had planned. During the meal we had all been marveling at the amazing white clouds, the rainbow that continued to get brighter, the thunder cracks that seldom showed the lightning and eventually the rain. We didn’t sit down to do the devotion and share time until 8:15 which I felt kinda bad about but knew I really didn’t want to miss out on it.. At 830, since only 2 people had shared so far, we agreed one more could share then we would share and go. As we got up to leave, a bit frazzled that it was 5 after 9 but we figured since we knew where we were going we would get home much faster than how long it took up to get there.

The Cabin
The Cabin
The Rainbow
The Rainbow
The Clouds
The Clouds
The Storm Rolling In
The Storm Rolling In

Tori gets carsick in the backseat so she ate her ice cream sunday the Wicklund’s made for her in the front seat, waiting for us to get on the main road to climb in the back seat to sleep. By 9:20 we were on the main road, Tori was trying to fall asleep while listening to Canon in D and I’m thinking how long of a trip home we have. All of the sudden out of the brush to my right a deer jumps toward our car and startled I tried to swerve but I still hit it letting out a scream. Thankfully I wasn’t hurt, neither was Tori or our car. It took me a minute to realize what happened and so we slowed down and pulled over to check the car. We were unsure of what to do but the guys behind us stopped to see if we and the car were ok. We assured them we were and they said it is good to call the sheriff but then went on their way. Tori and I got out, called 911 to report the hit and then started walking back to see if it was still alive since we were more than a football field down the road.

The deer’s head was up and it was moving but it was still in the middle of the road so we stood to watch on the opposite side not sure what to do while the sheriff was on the way. Two ladies pulled over having seen us just standing there to then shine a light on the deer so no one would hit it because it was getting dark. I started crying watching the deer try to move, totally unable to, even while this lady tried to get it closer to the side. The hit had broken her left arm so moving just caused more pain for this nursing mama deer. I was totally overwhelmed at the fact that it was suffering and panicked with more tears every time a car got close because it almost got hit a number of times. Tori tried to be comforting but we both ended up crying and hugging feeling totally helpless, having decided we wanted to wait for the sheriff so the deer was totally taken care of even though we were going to get home really late. We waited for about a half hour, eventually giving one of our towels to a man to put underneath the mama to move it to the side while another directed traffic away from the deer. Anytime he got close she would turn and just look straight at him which made us cry harder because it was clear she wasn’t going anywhere.

The sherif came just before 10, pulled it into the ditch, made sure we were ok and sent us on our way so that we wouldn’t have to see or hear the officer putting the deer out, frazzling us again.

On the way home we were still really shaken up, fighting through more tears and trying to forget about what just happened. We talked about some other things and eventually just put music on. We were quiet for a little while and then the Lord reminded me of the women’s conference talk I had listened to a little while back. She talked about leviticus and why in the middle of February in our bible reading plan we stop because Leviticus is so boring. She encouraged us to take another look. To see the weight of sacrifice.

She said, when we say we are making a sacrifice it rarely means blood was shed, typically it cost us a little money, we had to take on something or give something up. In the Bible, sacrifice is always a bloody reality, involving a bellowing animal being butchered on an alter. The people needed to see something more than being told of their sinfulness. They needed something unavoidable, undeniable, they need to experience it with all of their senses; in fact its going to encompass their entire schedule. You hear this bellowing animal, you feel the pulling of the animal apart, the resistance of their body and the blood all over the alter, of the burning flesh and bones. Imagine the spiritual and emotional sacrifice of this event, realizing it was because of your sin that made this innocent death necessary.

I started telling tori about this, we started tearing up again. I reminded her that Jesus gave up all the powers of being on His throne, His omniscience, His majesty, His knowledge and became a baby. He had to be fed and rocked to sleep. He had to learn and to grow and then was this innocent spotless lamb for us. By this point tori is crying pretty hard, tears are welled up out of gratefulness in my eyes. I started the song Forever by kari Jobe that says,

“The moon and stars they wept
The morning sun was dead
The Savior of the world was fallen
His body on the cross
His blood poured out for us
The weight of every curse upon him

One final breath He gave
As Heaven looked away
The Son of God was laid in darkness
A battle in the grave
The war on death was waged
The power of hell forever broken

The ground began to shake
The stone was rolled away
His perfect love could not be overcome
Now death where is your sting
Our resurrected King has rendered you defeated

Forever, He is glorified
Forever, He is lifted high
Forever, He is risen
He is alive”

She sputtered out, choking back her tears how today was so crazy. After being in the nature all day, seeing the clouds and the rainbow and the lightning storm during our drive home showed her that God was big and she knew she had been doubting Him. She said that when we were watching the deer she was praying and asking God why we had to hit it and why it was suffering and then she told me when I was telling her my story that it all hit her. That God is BIG and He is in control and that the deer is like a sacrifice for her. For all the sins she does everyday, for her doubt and unbelief; that she deserved it but the deer was showing her where God is. She said that this was the craziest, most amazing, in-awe-of-god day she had ever had. Of course I started crying and nodding and we sat holding hands being grateful that God is constantly revealing himself to us. That He loves us and does all things for the good of those who love him.

Praise Him, praise him we are alive and not hurt and that He knew we had to leave when we did. We hit the deer so that we could understand the passages in Leviticus about sacrifice. I know that Tori will never forget the power of sacrifice and the cross. That Jesus was the once and for all sacrifice for our sin (Hebrews 10:1-10) because the suffering of that mama deer was to show us Jesus in a bigger way.

Say “Cheese!”

GOOD NEWS! I made it to 50%. Not by Sunday night technically but I am at 50% now!

I have 50% to go in the next 22 days. That is wild, but whats even more wild is that God is constantly meeting my needs. As I mentioned in preview posts, I crashed my car, cleaned out my bank account to fix it and not to mention my camera fund jar too.

Driving home from a support appointment on Tuesday night I had a slight melt down at the lack of money that is in my possession, the number of people I have yet to meet with in order to reach my goal and the number of admin tasks to complete sooner than I have time for.

I have 6 books to read, arabic to begin practicing again, more phone calls to make, appoints to be had, thank you notes to stamped and mailed and on top of that remember who to follow up with. PLease pray for my sanity this week, its starting to hit overload.

I am becoming more nervous to meet with the people still on my list with no idea to how they will respond. Its funny how that works because most people I meet with are like tickled pink to give, which you would think is not weird but in all honesty its so scary to ask people! Thankfully awesome things happen that give you courage.

My first time (summer after freshman year of college) raising support my parents (sorry mom and dad) were not to keen on me doing it; I don’t think support raising was understood well and they really wanted me to make money to pay for school. They didn’t want me not to be able to pay and then end up having to come home again like I had the middle of my freshman year. Now they rebuke me for judging people and encourage me to just be myself. They remind me that people love me, are for me and are not going to yell “HOW DARE YOU! (throw coffee in my face) GET OUT OF MY HOUSE!” haha which sounds so funny but Its true, when raising support its scary to share your deepest excitements with someone, ask them to give what they’ve earned to provide for you. We start to believe a lot of lies about our worth, our vision and our journey but thats how Satan creeps in to discourage you from trusting the Lord has bigger plans. My parents remind me that God owns cattle on a thousand hills (psalm 50:10) and that He is never early, or late. He works in His own time and teaches us lessons along the way.

One of the things I was telling my mom on the way home from that meeting when I was having a meltdown this week was that I really really want the camera I had been saving up for. I told her I was SO SAD I didn’t think I was going to be able to get it alongside of all the other things I needed/wanted before I go. She reminded me I can’t have everything and if thats what I really wanted then that is what I’d have to sacrifice the other things for.

I went out to lunch with some family the next day (yesterday) who had already given me a grand at Christmas for this next adventure I had been talking about for a long time. After telling them about my car and being sad about my camera, they told me they would buy the camera for me. WHAT?!?!?! Say “Cheese!” thats the craziest thing I’ve almost ever heard. Well craziest thing this summer I think. They know full well I planned to spend about 1,200 on it and still want to buy it for me. Praise God for giving me things I don’t deserve from some very generous hearts. Thank you grandma and grandpa for blessing me.

Be encouraged this week that God is working and moving in ways bigger than you can ever imagine. Don’t be afraid to dream, wish, hope, or ask for big things. God is Good, He is near and He is able.

Freedom For All

Today is, to no ones surprise, one of the most “celebrated” holidays. In America on the fourth, from 9pm (CST) until 2 in the morning, firework shows are exploding all over the nation. Can you imagine what it would be like to watch the United States from space tonight?

Well, maybe you can, I think it would be awesome. Celebration is an understatement though. At Christmas, we give gifts and bake cookies and sing songs but everyones traditions are different and some people, as we live in the melting pot don’t celebrate Christmas but the fourth, everyone does. Today, your Facebook feed will be of parade pictures and sparklers being lit and articles with soldiers and flags. Your Instagram scroll will be filled with the similar but instead people wearing red, white and blue, it will be of strawberries and blueberries with whipped cream and root beer, and regular beer, hot dogs and watermelon. It will have bomb pops and laughter, high wasted shorts and bikinis. It will have flag this and flag that. Today, it seems like everyone eats picnic food and grills out, drinks things from coolers and lights fireworks. We all wear 3 colors and yell freedom in various ways. There is family and friends, today is hardly a day of sadness. Although I’m sure it is for some, some who have lost troops or who are experiencing the first holiday without a loved one. There is hope.

I read an article yesterday about church services and patriotism and how my generation feels about that. It was interesting but what I found most important was the need to emphasize the eternal citizenship we have in Christ rather than hoping or scoffing at our Nations citizenship. Yes, we thank our troops and honor those who have served. We must fight to respect our leaders in authority even when we disagree with them. Can you imagine trying to make decisions for 313 million people? uhhh… I can barely make decisions for myself, heck, I can’t even decide what kind of coffee I want when I go to Starbucks. I seriously have to tell the barista I need a few minutes, 99% of the time. The drive through is the worst for me.

I’m not saying I’m for or against Obama, or that you should be, I just think we should honor our authority, even if it means you disagree. I also don’t mean to say we shouldn’t fight for what we believe is right, when our government thinks otherwise but thats another blog post.

Today I’m reminded of the future I have in eternity because of the price Jesus paid for me on the cross. He died to take away my sins so that I would be adopted into the eternal kingdom of God. My citizenship lies in heaven, even more than it ever lies in my so called American freedom. Jesus is the hope for the loss we may feel today, for the sadness we experience without the “good ole’ days” but thankfully we have a comforter that has called us to Himself.

All that to say, I’m even more excited to bring hope of Eternal citizenship to the Middle East as I plan to move to study this fall. I am excited to be in class again and learn and grow in infinite ways as I adopt a new culture. Oh, what many blessings I have to learn from the hospitable people of Lebanon!

Happy Fourth of July, and remember that your citizenship, your hope and security is not in the freedom our country promises but the eternal freedom God has given through his son Jesus Christ.