Tuesday, May 17, 2011

A Humble and Full Heart

(Disclaimer: I have decided that I am going to use this blog as journal for myself before, during, and after my mission trip. I want to remember and hold on to every small detail of this journey. I have been so humbled through this experience already and I don't want to forget ANY of it! I know that God is changing my life--- changing my life for the better!)

Once I "gave in" to God's plan and fully committed to going to Ethiopia, I had to quickly start fundraising! This being my first mission trip, I had NO idea the work that went into the planning! Raising $3000 in such a short amount of time seems like a HUGE task. And well it is. But, God is just that much bigger! He provided more than I could have ever dreamed.

So, after sending a letter to many of closest friends and relatives, the support started POURING in! Prayers, monetary donations, and words of encouragement that humbled me and made me realize just how right things can be. Restated: God's plan is perfect. Don't question it. I have never been more confident about anything in my whole life.

But, I need to say a few thank you's.... Thank you's to everyone who supported me, prayed for me, and guided me. You are a true blessing to my life.

First, I would like to thank ALL of my friends, family, and loved ones who are praying for me. Your prayers give me so very much. Whenever I am flooded with weakness, inadequacy, worry, and nerves, God fills me with such comfort. I would, also, like to thank all of you who supported me financially. Because GOD is SOOO good, I am FULLY funded! What an awesome God we serve. Thank you from the very bottom of my heart for making this journey possible. It means more to me than you could ever know.

Next, I would like to thank a very dear friend of mine, Michael Ruiz. Michael and I have been co-workers for four years and during that time, we have created a very special friendship. One that I know will last me my whole life through and for that I am grateful.

Michael is the leader of middle school boy's bible study group and he and his group hosted one incredible car wash fundraiser. Although it was a cloudy day, his team raised a significant amount of money that topped off the remainder of my fundraising as well as donating a large chunk directly to The Forsaken Children. Besides the money, the support I felt from Michael, as well as, the parents from my school was unbelievable. I found myself that day feeling completely overwhelmed. I knew I worked at a great school but I think, at times, I took that blessing for granted. (as I take many of the blessings in my life...a work in progress, that's me!) The way that community came together to support me was humbling, at the very least. Former and current parents and students showed up that day as well as students and parents that I have never taught. They came for a car wash but ALL were quick to jump right in and help. Children holding signs on the side of Poplar Avenue was quite the sight!!! The feeling of gratitude that swept over me was one I could never put into words. Ever. So, because I can think of nothing else to adequately express my appreciation, THANK YOU, Michael and my GES family for making me understand even better that this is right. My life is as it should be. Michael, thank you for going above and beyond to support me through this journey and most of all, thank you for your friendship.

Dorothy and Abby, two of my 1st grade babies, came by after soccer! They held these signs on the corner of Poplar Avenue and Germantown Parkway for over an hour.
(Side note- As they excitedly helped out, Dorothy looked at Abby and said, "This is so cool. I can't wait to write about this is my journal on Monday." Abby replied, "I know and I am going to draw us and these signs with Miss Feathers standing behind us!"
Talk about a proud teacher... my kids write about their weekend every Monday in their journal and they were planning their journals on a Saturday!
Sweet, shy Carly getting donations from people at the red light! She was too precious. Her line went something like this..."Help support the kids in E-thi-o-p-uh! One dollar will make a big difference!" She raised over $100 by herself!
Washing away!
Also, I would like to thank my first grade team. They threw me the most awesome "shower" to get supplies for my trip and I RACKED up! I was showered with clothes, shoes, school supplies, and other materials to take to the children. Thank you so much, Kathy, Chrystal, Julia, Lindsey, Tracie, and Diana for loving me. I feel so blessed to be a part of your team and I feel your graciousness each and every day. You all were so thoughtful to think of me. I can't wait to take the goodies to the children.

The set up in the lounge. Yummy cake and peach tea!
Me and Kathy B!

To my K-kids(a group of 4-5th graders who serve in the community), thank you for all of the school supplies and the first aid supplies you brought to our last meeting. Each of you is spectacular and I have been so proud to be your sponsor this year. I know that giving is in the motto of our club but your willingness to help meant so much.

So... thank you ALL for graciously loving me but more importantly for loving Him. His plans are great. Your support truly means everything to me. God is so good.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Never Stagnant

I am finally realizing God's purpose for my life.

What I always thought was stagnant... well, God never stopped moving.

Moving in me...

I could not be any more confident or excited. I finally get His plan.

Let me digress...

For several years, I have been searching for that next step. After graduating college and beginning my career, I always felt this unexplainable emptiness inside. I was blessed with a great job, an amazing family, and wonderful friends but I never felt completely whole. For so long, I chalked it up to being in that era of my life where ALL of my friends were gettin
g married and that being a dream I longed to come true, I ached for the next step in my life to begin. God has a funny way of knowing better and it wasn't until recently that I began to fully
comprehend that he had every small detail of my life planned out long before I was even born.

So, for a while, I have been praying for God to "tell" me my next step. I looked for answers. Was I supposed to move and start my life somewhere else? Did He want me to continue my
education and go back to school for my Specialist degree? While these are things I might like to do, none of them felt right. My life is here. My life is in Memphis -- my family, my friends, my job, my church, everything. I continued to pray for God to fill my heart and, boy, did he answer. About a month ago, I was sitting in church, speaking a silent prayer about my life and the road I should follow next. I spoke a very specific prayer asking Him what His plan was for me and asking him specifically if he wanted me to go on a mission trip. (While missions have always been on my heart, I have never felt like God could use me in this field. Silly me!) As
soon as I was finished praying, our pastor began to speak about short term mission trips. I turned, grabbed my mom (she was confused), and KNEW that God had just been VERY blunt in giving me my answer.

Once I got home, I did a little research on the short term mission trips Central would be taking this year and I came across a high school friend's name. I contacted her immediately. We met the following day for coffee and it was all downhill from there. Heather, my friend, urged me to pray for where God wanted to use me but she, also, offered that time was of the essence and
that I needed to get the ball rolling if this is something I really wanted to do. For those of you who know me, you know that I am a planner and I am not very good at making on the spot decisions. However, something MUCH larger was taking place. God was moving. While I recognize that He has always been moving inside me, this was the first time I ever fully acknowledged His plan.

By Thursday of that week, I had signed up with the missions department and I had chosen a trip. Wait... God had chosen my trip... I was going to Ethiopia. By Sunday, I was a part of a team and I have not looked back. I have never felt more right about anything in my life. While
insecurities plague me, God fills me. He knows the desires of my heart better than I do and I finally realized that it was up to me to listen.

So... in a few short weeks, I will travel to Addis Ababa, Ethiopia with a team from Central Church hoping to make a difference in some of the lives of the estimated 100,000 children living in the streets. We will be working with an organization called The Forsaken Children (www.theforsakenchildren.org) that offers a future to these sweet children.

I have decided that I will now use this blog to journal my experiences before, during and after my trip. Please pray for me, my team, and the children of Addis Ababa. I will covet your prayers and I look forward to sharing my journey with you!

"For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also." Matthew 6:21

Up next: Getting there!