Well. Hello again!
This always seems to happen to me; I start out with intent to write a few times a month, and then college happens and work happens and life happens and writing slips to the back-burner a little too fast. But DANG what a semester. I don’t even know where to begin…
Things started out mostly like any other semester. Buying textbooks and being reminded of just how long it takes me to read and take notes, and also being reminded again of the time management it takes to balance working and being a full time student. This semester was what I not-so-lovingly called my knock-out semester: the time to knock out all of those classes I’ve been avoiding but know I’ll have to take at some point if I ever want to graduate. For me, that meant accounting (I realized I’m really thankful there are people who aspire to be accountants because let me tell you, numbers and journals and debits and credits are NOT my strong suit), algebra (kinda easy, kinda not), business reports writing (bleh) and astronomy (I needed a science credit; sounds like a fun class until the professor ruins it for you). Math and science take a lot more time for me than reading and writing, so I felt like I was almost drowning in homework and studying each week. And on top of that I got a new job! I was hired at Starbucks, and applied there primarily for their college program (tuition is covered!!), and started a month before school ended. I love the job, but there’s definitely a learning curve. Learning how to ring in and make a Venti four pump caramel macchiato upside down and stirred with extra drizzle, 148 degrees, add whip and two pumps of toffee nut, plus two extra shots takes some time. I also started working more hours, which meant I needed to learn even better time management than before. It’s been a juggling act!
But besides those basic everyday life things, there were also a fair amount of challenges. In February I got in my first ever car accident. Thankfully no one was hurt and her car was perfectly fine, but my very loved car (her name was Lucille) was totaled. Thus began dealing with insurance, car shopping, and my first ever car payment. And then two weeks after we got the new car…. my sister accidentally backed it into another car. The trunk now needs to be fixed. On top of that, there was a stretch where my dad wasn’t feeling too hot and ended up in the ER for a night. Add on to the pile a few family issues, trying to fundraise for the last bit I needed for my trip to Kenya, and going through two wisdom tooth surgeries over two different breaks from school (my mouth has always been complicated), and it felt like this semester was one wave after another with no real breaks or moments to catch my breath.
So here I am, writing once more, and life is starting to balance out again. School ended last week and I can at last stop and slow down and feel like I have time to breathe again- and write again!
And now the main thing on my mind is the fact that in THIRTEEN DAYS I will be in Kenya!! By the grace of the Lord and many generous friends and family members, I have been fully funded for this trip for three months… it just goes to show that if God has called you somewhere, He WILL provide in His way and His time (although I admittedly doubted that time and again). I got all of my shots and vaccinations a month ago, got my visa approved three weeks ago, and now only have to do a bit of last minute shopping and start packing, and we’ll be on our way!
Preparing for this trip has been a battle through and through, not only for me but for the entire team. Including myself, four team members were in car accidents over the last six months (people who have never been in car accidents before!). One family experienced deaths in the family, another one has gone through appendicitis and unexpected-and-requiring-intensive-surgery sports injuries, and almost all of us experienced some sort of financial challenge or two that seemed like it would stop things from happening. I know just trying to keep my head and heart in the right place has been a difficult fight all its own. It’s also election season in Kenya and the environment there has been sort of hit or miss. But nonetheless, God pulled this team together and provided for everyone to go, and we leave in thirteen days!
If there’s been any one lesson that has stuck out to me this semester, it is the importance of seeing things through “spiritual eyes,” so to speak. I’ve realized that in America especially, whenever something challenging or “bad” happens, we immediately look to the physical. Car accident? Awful coincidence. In physical pain? Time to go to the doctor. Headache? Pop some ibuprofen. Almost everything has some sort of “physical” solution. And there are no doubt times when that is the solution…. but why don’t we see those sorts of things as spiritual attacks? Warfare is very real; there is an enemy on the loose and he is enraged not only at our King but at us as His followers and children, and he is determined to do anything and everything in his power to break us down, hold us captive, and keep us restrained. I once read about a woman who dealt with severe headaches for most of her adult life; no doctor visits or medications were helping, and there seemed to be no solution. Finally her husband prayed over her, fiercely and specifically, calling out any spirits that were causing her physical pain and declaring that they had no power over her in the name of Christ. He declared that they needed to be bound and sent back to hell, that they were not to touch his wife again. And guess what? From that day on, the headaches never came back!
Even hearing such stories is strange, isn’t it? We are so programmed to not even think about the spiritual aspect of things that to think of powers of darkness and powers of light being very alive and at work is uncomfortable. It’s almost easier to deny the reality of it than acknowledge it and fight it as it needs to be fought. Yet what are we risking, what are we needlessly suffering because we don’t fight these things spiritually?? “For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does. The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ (2 Cor. 10:3-5).” Heck, even our thoughts (or perhaps most especially our thoughts) are a fierce battleground! Ever thought you aren’t good enough? Or that God won’t come through? Or that you aren’t worth loving or protecting? Or that you will be let down, or you will let yourself down? Spiritual attack, my friends.
Spiritual and physical attack have been very real the last six months, and I know that won’t stop just because we’re almost ready to leave; if anything it will intensify. I have no doubt in my heart that God is preparing us and every person there for something huge, whether or not we recognize it in the moment. The enemy attacks most fiercely when he is afraid of what could happen, and he’s been attacking; but the Lord has been providing and protecting that much more so. Jesus is so much bigger!! As we prepare to pack and begin this adventure, please pray for a large extra dose of spiritual and physical protection, for health and safety and for a willingness to go wherever God would lead us while we are there.
I most likely will have the chance once or twice while I’m there to post updates to a Facebook group page about the team and the trip, and if I can’t blog while I’m there then I will for sure be posting updates when I return!
THIRTEEN DAYS. Ahhh what a journey it’s been already! And please my friends- seek to begin seeing things through a spiritual lens. It is so much more of a daily thing (and an important thing) than most of us realize.
“So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” -Isaiah 41:10