Sunday, March 20, 2011
Engagement Story: Psalm 118:23 This is the Lord's doing, and it is marvelous in our eyes.
Worthy are you, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power, for you created all things, and by your will they existed and were created.
Principle 1: We walk by faith, not by sight.
- In Hebrews 11:1 we read "Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen."
- In verse 6 it says, "And without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him."
- Applied to my experience in pursuing Tashi, there were many times when I desperately wanted to ask Tashi or a friend of hers if she would consider me. I wanted to know if I was crazy or if there was potential. I wanted to ask her out to coffee to talk. I wanted to see if we could bond and if we were compatible. I wanted to ask her a ton of questions. I wanted to approach her myself, rather than letting my parents and a elder/minister contact her initially. I wanted to do all of this myself. God, in His goodness, removed this responsibility from me as He simply showed me where to step. Looking back, wow, I'm thankful God kept me from seeking "what I wanted" but instead provided what He wanted.
Principle 2: In a multitude of counselors, there is wisdom, safety and victory.
Principle 3: Make God your delight, and He will create in you new desires and satisfy your every need as He fulfills His purposes, according to His grace and good pleasure.
- Proverbs 11:4, 15:22 and 24:6 speak to this principle. Without leadership, guidance and counsel, plans fail and people fall. But with many counselors, there is wisdom, safety and success.
- Applied to my experience, I have had a multitude of counselors from day 1 (well, day 3 to be exact). John Eisenmann, Nate Hughes and David Thames were initially those in contact with me in April and May when God first started softening my heart. Then in June Kirk Plattner and Chad Huber stepped in as "personal" counselors and mentors. Kirk gave me valid reason for needing to talk to my parents and also for talking to Lynn. My brother Matt was there to listen as I shared on the phone. When I arrived home in July and August, I spoke with my parents and listened to their counsel. Several close friends and prayer warriors listened to my experiences and provided sound advice. David and Kate Ringger not only listened and supported, but they challenged me to let go and let God. After my parents were able to process and pray through this, they decided to contact Lynn in October. He offered his advice. My home elder, Curt Frank, was contacted and supported contacting Tashi and he also shared input and wise counsel. Jon Aupperle sent insightful questions and perspective and gave me Biblical truth to stand on. I did not always get the advice or counsel I wanted, but through them God spoke truth into my life, challenged my "self-sightedness" and helped me to walk in the Word. Really, God gets all the glory in this. I felt an odd conviction to pray about Tashi, and John encouraged me to pray, so I did. Then I felt the need to talk to Kirk, and then he started the conversation. He told me to talk to my parents and Lynn. So I talked to my parents and then they decided to talk to Lynn. After that, Lynn got input and counsel from several others and then talked to Tashi directly. Then after all of that was sorted out, then and only then was the ball placed back into my court, and we met for the first time to discuss our relationship. Multitude of counselors proved to grant me much wisdom, safety and victory!
- Psalm 37:3-5 has always been and I imagine will always be a principle by which I live and make decisions. I believe faith and salvation are a gift from God. I also believe that true faith results in good works, trust and a reliance on God, and that the only way to experience God is to commit your life to Him and wait for His provision and direction. Following the desires of your heart is not an issue to take lightly, as we know that the heart is deceitful above all else. That is why the source MUST be the Lord.
- When the doubts came and I thought, "God, pursuing Tashi is a crazy idea, that can't be what you want me to do," I would review my situation. As I asked God to search my heart, by His grace He continued to mold me and reveal to me how much I needed Himself, and I knew I was delighting in the Lord and in the Cross. Therefore, I was able to have confidence that the developing desires of my heart were given from Him, they were not of myself. I trust Him and I sought to commit my way unto Him, knowing that He would bring to pass whatever He so willed.
- 1 John 4:18 teaches that "There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear." In 2 Timothy 1:7 Paul writes that "for God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and a sound mind." In Psalm 37:23-24 it says "The steps of a righteous man are established by the LORD, when he delights in his way; though he fall, he shall not be cast headlong, for the LORD upholds his hand."
- When we grasp that God loves us with an agape, eternal love, and that He actually cares about the details of our lives, the earthly fears we have naturally within us have no power. Paul could write about persecution and death as if it had not an ounce of sting or threat. No fear. He knew, as we should too, that God will take care of us, no matter what. That doesn't mean life is always perfect or void of pain. Just like Psalm 37 teaches, sometime we fall. That doesn't mean God is not leading us but it does mean we will be not destroyed, either. As I wrestled with this, my confidence was that God was establishing my steps, and whether that meant marrying Tashi or not, it would be OK because He upholds my hand.
Principle 5: Wisdom and blessing in submission to spiritual authority
- 1 Peter 5:5-7 Likewise, ye younger, submit yourselves unto the elder. Yea, all of you be subject one to another, and be clothed with humility: for God resists the proud, and giveth grace to the humble. Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time: Casting all your care upon him; for he cares for you.
- Heb 13:17 Obey your leaders and submit to them, for they are keeping watch over your souls, as those who will have to give an account. Let them do this with joy and not with groaning, for that would be of no advantage to you.
- Romans 13:1 Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God.
- Eph 6:1-3 Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. "Honor your father and mother" (this is the first commandment with a promise), "that it may go well with you and that you may live long in the land."
- Colossians 3:20 Children, obey your parents in everything, for this pleases the Lord.
- This goes hand in hand with the wisdom of many counselors, but its slightly different. The counsel I received was mostly something that I sought. Submission has more of a "I don't like this or really agree but I will obey." I'm not going to lie, I did not like all the advice and requests that were made of me during this journey, and to this day do not necessarily agree with some decisions and direction. But that's ok. I did not like waiting. I cringed at the thought of giving up control. But I knew that God promised to bless submission, so with a lot of grace and encouragement from others, I submitted to: waiting for parental support before moving forward, allowing my parents to take the first step and contact Lynn Stieglitz, seeking the involvement of church elders, heeding their input and allowing Lynn to make the initial contact with Tashi (even though I wanted to do this), waiting longer than I wanted for Tashi to have membership in the AC church and waiting more than 4 months for our engagement to be made public. But, clearly I look back and God has blessed all the relationships thru this process. The second part of Hebrews 13:17 sticks out so much, teaching us that whether we agree with leadership or not, we ought to agree and not butt heads with them, as it offers NO advantage whatsoever to steal the joy from our leaders. Not to mention, there proved to be much wisdom in some of what Tashi and I submitted to, and God given us "cool runnings", peace in the journey.
Principle 6: WAIT on the LORD:
- Psalm 27:14 Wait for the LORD; be strong, and let your heart take courage; wait for the LORD!
- Psalm 37:7 Be still before the LORD and wait patiently for him.
- Psalm 37:34 Wait for the LORD and keep his way, and he will exalt you to inherit the land.
- Anyone who knows me, patience is not a gift of mine. I struggle waiting at stop lights, in grocery lines, waiting for those I am meeting, or if a group is going somewhere and some are straggling. When I'm excited for something coming up, I get anxious and can't think about anything except for that thing/person/event that is coming soon. Shoot, waiting 34 minutes for Tashi to respond was nerve-wracking! I looked at my phone so many times hoping for a message to pop up, and then it did! Waiting a couple months for my parents to pray through this, waiting for church leadership to grant their blessing and to give their support to making our engagement public. Now I gotta wait 5 months til I'm married. I pray I allow God to grow me through this, as I certainly need to learn more patience!
As you read this, keep in mind the Biblical principles above and how God worked in those ways. It is only in looking back that I can understand all of this, because "during" the experience of life we often don't notice how God is there, but He is there and is working things together for good, for those who love Him, and for the called according to His purposes. Ok, so the long but not too long version of how we came to be engaged.
Saturday, March 19, 2011
RUF from University of South Florida
Ok, so we did more than just goof off all week, but there were plenty of laughs and jokes and shenanigans...this started as an innocent toss but turned into gut-splitting hilarity. I really am mature...
#4 barely made it in!
Erica getting in on the action, i called her Cookie cuz she reminded me of my sister in law, Brooke.
Ninja game...be warned, it can get vicious!
View of Kingston and the port from Red Hills area
Sunday, March 13, 2011
Grand Valley State University and Sports Day
Quite frequently heading into a team week, I get nervous and full of anxiety and wonder how we are going to make it through the week. God always provides. Often in ways I never expect and better than I could imagine. Occasionally I get blown away and simply fall in love with the people on the team. This was one of those weeks. I quickly felt at ease with the 7 of them (six students, one mom) and the protective walls came down. Not that mine are ever too high, but what does exist came down quickly, and I was just me. They came in on a Friday and left on a Friday, and were also here for Sports Day. Hence, it was an altogether messed up week, but in a really good way. The team loved on the kids, did a great job at getting outside their comfort bubble to learn sign, and extended a lot of grace and love to me, personally. Thank you Lord for new friends!
Give them props for best sign!
Yellow house, about four of them looked
Flag got twisted...
Green house ready to run!
Green house thinks the performance was terrific!
Stephen (teacher/coach) is totally into this "shirt, shorts and socks" race
Anesa pulling ahead with getting her socks on first
Alex ran away with this one!
Proud coach and athlete!
Stephen celebrating (again) with a Usain Bolt pose while Adair does a dance :)
Rahim celebrates only half-way to the finish line, Shaquaine is just yelling with glee to run, and Daphawn is already starting to pout because he's in last place...oh the personalities of these kids...gotta love it!!!!
Photo finish as Michael takes 1st place for Green house ahead of Rushedie of Red house
Gilisa pulls to the line first for Red house
Richard and Sanjay give it all they got!
Gilisa loses her water in the "bucket of water on the head" race
Richard wants no part of Sadiki trying to tief the first place medal as Kimmarley watches the quarreling
Richard, Sadiki and Rushedie take the turn under control but at full speed
Daphawn and his just as cute sister
I loved seeing the love Daphawn has for his mom and sister...the impact of a loving family is evident!
Megan Smith (team leader) with her adopted niece, Antoinette
Brittney and her mom smiling sweetly
Parent/family race...one dude totally lost his balance and bit it!
Not gonna lie, I died laughing...
I was forced to run, and after almost falling on my face at the start...
...I managed to stay close and came in second behind Stephen and ahead of Jason
David and Kate's kids, Anesa, Alex and Brittney, all smiles after a fun day!
The students and team celebrating a day of competition and joy!