Here’s My Heart… speak what is True

this is the journey

Song : Here’s My Heart… this is the journey….

My eyes flicker, light flashing in, unable to focus, to clearly see… this, this is what this season of uncertainty feels like.

Isn’t that so true though? I wish with everything in me that I was walking in boldness and clarity in every moment. Yet as the moments of uncertainty grow, fear seeps into the cracks of my mind and my heart. Instead of clinging to promises, I see my heart cling to broken promises. It replays the lie that I will be abandoned, I am not enough, I am not of worth. Of course LIES… but the replay of history subtly speaks the lies of discouragement, of destruction. And in those moments I turn on the very one that is my partner, my husband. My heart crying out for him to fix this, to give me security, to make sure that I feel as though I am thought of. Yes, every woman wants to be reassured, comforted. However, if I am to be much more honest, what I am looking for from him is for him to still my heart. Sure, we could hurl accusations, facts even, of how the other has betrayed them. But then we do nothing to build trust and love and respect. It is in this very moment that I need to lean into the mantra ‘I am for YOU and not against you’. I need my eyes to focus back on to WHO God is. I need to be clinging to promises that have never been broken. I will remain unstable, blind, fumbling until I choose to cling on the unchanging character of Christ.

Christ is the only one who can handle the rollercoaster of emotions and my fragmented thoughts. He is the only one who can care for my heart and speaks what is True in such a way for me to hear it. As He holds my heart God whispers into it the truths… I am His, I am loved, He is with me – I am not alone. This story is not over, it is but one small chapter in my life, and only a dot in the story of God.

May He quiet Greg and my soul in every way so that we may both hear what is True.

So just in case you haven’t heard this song by Lauren Daigle ‘Here’s My Heart..’ click on this link: Here’s my heart

Walking towards the Son

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Walking towards the Son

…beyond the rain, through the vulnerability

Walking home this afternoon the grey clouds crossed over once again. Didn’t pay much mind to it since 1) I live in Britain for goodness sake- of course it will be grey at the end of August; and 2) It matched my mindset this morning. Mind was up, thinking, pondering, and asking lots of questions, all before my physical body had decided to fling itself out of bed. Yep, I had let good old Worry walk into my mind before I even said hello to the world around me.

As I continued to walk home this afternoon the drips of rain began to greet me. First the rain was suttle, leading towards hope and fervent praying that the rain would go away until I made it home and not actually have to deal with it. Then the rain let me know it had decided to stay and come down on top of me, then down at an angle so it was smacking me in the face, just enough to be annoying. Then it came down enough for me to realize it was putting me off… because not only was I simply walking in the rain but I was wearing a white blouse. So there I was walking, in the rain, with a white blouse, feeling vulnerable and desperately hoping that people would not notice what was quickly being revealed despite my fervent heart hoping to conceal what was underneath.

I finally looked up and pulled my shoulders back and thought ‘Hey, if it’s going to happen, just own it – don’t fight it, pouting won’t make it go away’. … As I began to stand up a bit taller (okay ‘taller’ is a relative term for a 5 foot nothing gal) I could see the sun and blue sky beaming before me. Now it wasn’t over me but it was before me. My situation staid the same, grey, wet, vulnerable but before me was hope. And a smile spread across my face.

I knew that somewhere near by there was rainbow in the sky. One of the things I have come to love is knowing that when it rains and the sun comes out quickly there is bound to be a rainbow. It is through the weather’s TRANSITIONS that something beautiful like a promise or God’s faithfulness is revealed. We need the contrast to see the beauty. And yes, this is where I insert cheesy reference to God and His promises and faithfulness. It’s cheesy because we all KNOW that… but it is awesome because it is still so true. So as I walked, in the rain, wet, and vulnerable I began to do so with confidence in knowing that the rain would quickly pass (and it is Britain so the reality is the rain WILL come again).

Right now I can’t see the big picture for me and my family. I get this very small puzzle piece and to be honest it makes me feel rained on, grey, and very vulnerable with fear of what might be revealed during this time. But just as that is my reality so is the part where there is HOPE. Hope knowing that somewhere near by is the Son shining and revealing the pieces during this transition. I can hope knowing that God IS Faithful.

By the time I made it to the doorstep that small smile had widened… and I said (yes out loud. And no I’m not TOTALLY crazy) “ahhh… joy. THIS is joy in the transition… I’ve missed you today”.

Here’s to walking towards the Son in the midst of the grey transition knowing that the rainbow is out there somewhere, and I WILL see it soon.

Jen and Mak Weaver finding joy amongst the everyday.

Jen and Mak Weaver finding joy amongst the everyday.

Stepping into OUR stories: Tamara !!!

Please meet my beautiful friend, Tamara!!!- jen

Tamara

So… here we go.

I guess first it would be nice to introduce myself haha.

My name is Tamara and I’m 24 years old working in England (I am Dutch and from Nederland!!) as a missionary doing kidswork. I‘ve been a Christian as long as I can remember as my parents always took me to church. Alongside that I’ve always had a heart for mission and for kids. My dream of being a little girl was to become a teacher and maybe one day go to Africa to teach little black kids. I’ve always told my parents this so they weren’t surprised that one day I told them I wanted to go and serve God overseas. After a long process of praying and looking around, I found a project in Chile that I really liked. One of the things was working with the street kids there. So that would be brilliant. (I hear you thinking; ‘this is not England… but trust me I’ll get thereJ)

As everyone joining OM for longer than 6 months, they would attend a 10 day starters conference that would prepare them for going on the mission field. I absolutely loved all the different nationalities represented and the things we did were great. After being at the conference for 4 days, I had a conversation. Due to circumstances, Chile was no longer an option. I can tell you, my world fell apart. Ready to go, all packed and then, door closed. God, what are you doing??!! Long story short, I realised that I couldn’t walk away from God and believed firmly that He still had a plan. All the support that came in couldn’t just be wasted! The good thing was that there were lots of people from all over the world that I could talk to about where they worked and what they did. The one that caught my attention was Lifehope in England. Strange! England? Me? Really? Throughout the week it became clear that that was exactly what God had for me. So I decided to follow Him, and I flew to England straight after the Conference. Part of the time I was in a team working with a local church and part of time I worked with a team called Kids ‘n’ Things. This was the team I heard about at the conference and why I ended up in England.

I absolutely loved Kids ‘n’ Things from moment one. The team is a team that works with primary school aged children (5-11yrs old). We do creative ministry using puppets, mime, drama, conjuring to show kid who God really is (that He loves them and cares for them) and tell them about the meaning of Christian festivals like Christmas and Easter. We make all of our own materials, which I absolutely love. I like being creative and that works really well being part of this team. Next to that we work together with local churches and we do 5 day holiday clubs during the half term weeks throughout England. It’s a great opportunity to tell kids more about God and to answer some of the questions they might have.

After 4 months I stopped working with the church team and started doing administrative work. This was only for half of the week as the Kids ‘n’ Things team was delighted to take me on board for long term. This was amazing! I loved having more responsibility and being around for longer, working alongside some amazing people! God really opened a door that I would have never opened myself. The idea of working in England would have put me off straight away, just because… England a mission field??!!

I think, often when we talk about mission, we still think about the far away countries, living in extreme circumstances and nothing modern. This is, at least I think, changing. The population in England that has a living faith is less than 10%. Teen pregnancy is huge together with alcohol problems. England is in need of God! Kids grow up in very hard situations with families being separated and parents who don’t have time for them. We want to tell them that there’s hope. There’s a God that loves them, thinks their special, takes care of them and who will always be there for them! Isn’t that a message every child should hear? I think so and I feel incredibly privileged to be able to tell them that. To give them hopeJ

Being part time on the Kids ‘n’ Things team was great, but deep down I knew I wanted more. I wanted to do more. As much as I enjoyed doing admin, it wasn’t my passion and kids just are. Admin was starting to take over my week as it got busier and busier.

Luckily I’ve made some amazing friends over the last 2 years and one of them challenged me, without even knowing. ‘Tamara’ she said, ‘do you realise that on Thursday and Fridays you’re a lot happier then the other days of the week?’ Honestly, I didn’t. I was serving God where He had placed me, trying to make the best out of it. What I didn’t realise is that He was opening the door again. This time for fulltime kids work. This meant having a few very scary conversations. Such as, asking if fulltime work within Kids ‘n’ Things was possible, quitting my admin job, aaaaah! Those conversations are never my favourite, but the response was amazing. The office was rearranged within no time and after a period of handing over my admin role, I became a fulltime Kids ‘n’ Things member. And guess what? I absolutely love it! God has been amazing over the last 2 years, and 2 years ago I would not have believed you if you had told me this would happen.

One of the biggest things I learned is that I can plan all I want, but God’s ways are higher. I don’t understand them most of the time, but they’re good. He has good plans for me, He will give me hope and a good future (Jer. 29:11). How long I will be here in England? I don’t know, but He knows and I believe when time is done, He will show me. For now, I try to enjoy working where He has me, and most of the time, that is enoughJ

Stepping into OUR stories….

I have not written in a very long, long time. It is no secret, my heart and mind were wounded over the past two years and slowly I just shut down. No longer did I know what stories I could write. What were mine to share? What stories belonged to my neighbors? My friends? The opposition? It was muddled. So I hide.

In the past couple of months I really have felt the desire emerge to write again. To share again. To be vulnerable once again. As I pondered what this season could look like in the ramblings of my twisted little mind, something I had once desired came back to mind. I wanted to HEAR from women. Godly women from all walks of life. I wanted to hear women who were different in all areas from each other. Yes, I realize I could just simply open any blog and read about other women. But I didn’t just want to read. I didn’t want to read more advice. I didn’t want to read more about utopian theory. I didn’t want some unknown person to FIX me. I just wanted to HEAR real stories, their stories. The stories that get played out everyday. I was craving to hear about the personal thought that happens in one fleeting moment that causes a woman to switch gears for the rest of the day. I am incredibly blessed to have godly women weaved into my own story, that I just wanted to create a platform for them to share. I have been challenged, loved, cared for, encouraged, and strengthen by so many women. I could never do this life alone….

Just today a friend was texting me. We were commenting on how thankful we were for each other, but the reality is that at some point we fail each other. To which I responded: ‘It’s not about failing or not failing. It is about the willingness to journey with another.”. … and that’s what this place will be; a place to journey with one another.

So come along as we Step into Our Stories….

Unexpected Blessing

In a week’s time our family will be relocating to Halesowen, Uk. This last week I spent much of it trying to start the goodbyes, some were good conversations, some were much tougher, and some have still not been able to happen. Due to the children entering into Spring Break this past Friday, it made Friday the last day of school for them in London. It was surprising the emotions that rose when it became clear it was time to say goodbye.

Our family had had many discussions about our departure and about the new adventure before us. There are still many unknowns, even the exact move in date is uncertain. The kids have talked, written, and drawn about their time here and most prominently their time at Stonebridge Primary, in Northwest London. On Friday we brought in yummies to share with classmates.

 

Zeke's Assembly

Zeke’s Assembly

On Friday, God gave us a huge gift. Zeke’s class had their assembly. The assembly laid out the story of Christ, His death, and His resurrection. It was bold, it was clear, and I was beaming. Zeke’s line in the play was “And this is why Jesus died on the cross and rose again. So that He may forgive and give new life”. My eyes swelled as I sat there amongst my mostly Muslim Friends. I thought to myself, ‘and this is what it has been all about. To be able to sit in this place and be a part of the Truth that Christ is already and will always be declaring- He is the way, the truth and the life’.

When it came time to gather the kids from school, I was surprised by how much my own emotions seemed to be laying so close to the surface. Zoey’s class had made her a sweet card and she gave extra cuddles to the teachers and the helpers. When Zeke came out he was literally ushered with some of his buddies from class. He, along with some friends, had bags of good bye gifts for Zeke and the family. Mak had chocolates and hand written cards from classmates. I was stunned. I found out that teachers had gone in on a gift for my son and the two girls. Zeke’s class also had signed goodbye messages on a shirt. We found out that one of the boys who had brought Zeke a light Sabre, had brought his own to give to Zeke. His family having multiple kids and barely making ends meet had been willing to let go of his sword for a friend whom he loved. This was not a kid who had tons to spare, it was his prized possession. It was overwhelming. My kids have come in contact with love. And I love that Christ showed great love to my kids through those that are not yet living in the truth of Christ. My kids could see first hand that people respond well to love and friendship.

 

Stonebridge Primary School 2013-2014

Stonebridge Primary School 2013-2014

Zeke had the privilege of having the same teacher helpers for last year and this year. I have come to really enjoy their company and as we said goodbye to each other we all were crying. There were tender words that were exchanged, and for my own heart I will hold those words a bit closer and simply say that it was the greatest gift God has given since being here.

As we walked home with my tear stained face I kept whispering in my head my gratitude to our God. This school, that place, had been such a place of fear to me. I clearly remember going in that first day to sign our kids up for school. As I stood with a secretary in the small front office, Zeke had been off drawing. He came up to me while I was listening to the lady and shared his picture with both of us. He showed me the picture of him, his sisters and God. He had labeled them all. Then he told me right in front of this lady, “See God is with me even at school”. It humbled me then, and breaks me now. A year and a half later I can see so clearly how God has been with our kids every single day. That all those fears of the unknown of sending my little ‘American Christian Children’ to a 80% Muslim school would become the source of so much joy for me.

In the end I have discovered that when God calls us into the uncertain, He is calling us into the blessing. And now as we scramble to pack boxes and we have more questions then answers, it is His peace that reigns. For in the uncertain will lay the blessings.

 

 

 

Travel Companion

It is no secret that as of late our family is in the midst of yet another transition period. And it is not a surprise that I have felt every emotion under the sun, almost on a repeat remix. The nice surprise this go around isn’t that I don’t still fight against stress, control, trust issues… those are unfortunately still there. The nice surprise has been how quickly God has revealed and helped me  identify what is really at the core of a reaction (sometimes an unreasonable reaction, if I am to be honest) and once identified helping me to quickly give that moment over to who it actually belongs to -God.

Another amazing and humbling surprise in this season of life has been who God has brought in my life to remind me of His truths. Just when I can feel the internal wheels running a 1,000 miles away, this person in the most subtle ways has grounded me, quickly. It has been humbling and a thrill to watch this young person understand peace in such a tangible way.

I have asked for permission to share this story… see this story is not my own, it is co-owned, and I would never want to over shadow another’s story. But this part of her story is so intertwined with mine… I desperately wanted to share it… because just maybe you, yourself, are needing that gentle reminder of peace.

On Feburary 18th Makayla was off drawing… and this is what she so sweetly made for the family.

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Then this past Thursday night, as the two of us sat in a van riding to a house for Prayer night, she read me a poem she was reading in her Poetry Book.

From here I would like you to hear from Makayla herself. All our children are precious and a blessing. But it has been a wonderful discovery to see my child keep in step with Christ as He leads this family and reminds us of His unchanging truths.

Makayla:
The poem that I read was called THE LAMB.

THE LAMB

Little Lamb, who made thee?

Dost thou know who made thee,

Gave thee life, and bid thee feed

By the stream  and o’er the mead;

Gave thee clothing of delight,

Softest clothing, wooly, bright;

Gave thee such a tender voice

Making all the vales rejoice;

Little Lamb, who made thee?

Dost thou know who made thee?

Little Lamb I’ll tell thee.

Little Lamb I’ll tell thee.

He is called by thy name,

For He calls Himself a Lamb:–

He is meek and He is mild;

He became a little child.

I a child, and thou a lamb,

We are called by His name.

LIttle Lamb, God bless thee;

Little Lamb, God bless thee.

W. Blake.

From: The Blue Poetry Book. Andrew Lang

If you start to feel uneasy and uncertain about who you are and what to do, remember Who the Lamb is and remember He calls you by name… be still and know that He is God. – Makayla

Dirty little secret

It is currently 10:45pm on the 11th of December. I should be studying. I should wipe my blurred eyes that are pained from PDF files trying to teach this old dog how to teach English, take a deep breath and dig further into my studies. But my brain is tired. So what do I do when my house is quiet as a mouse? What do I let my mind wander to… people. I can not seem to get away from that topic. It seems to seep into everything… maybe because people are somehow connected to everything. Okay, before I go rambling on and on and on about connectedness and blah blah, blah… let me refocus my tired wrinkled brain just a bit.

This here, is a confession. As many of you know, my family is teamed up with a global missions team based here in London, Uk. There are SO many adventures, heartaches, failures, small triumphs I would LOVE to write and share with you over a cup of tea. However, my brain is on people, on church, and my dirty little secret.

I started participating in “ministry” at a young age helping Sunday School classes (as in I think I was 10). I’ve gotten to help in numerous service opportunities, participated in youth group, college group, young adult groups, and any other ‘group’ that would basically let me hang out in. I was given a gift to help serve as a helper to a children’s Director for a time. I helped out with mission boards, and the list goes on and on and on…. As I am sure that it does for you as well.

And here is my secret, in all those years of DOING I’ve realized this last year: I’m not a leader. Yep, I said it. Oh, I can just hear you cry out, “but you have to be, you’ve done this or that.” Or maybe you quickly want to tell me about this great book for me to read. Trust me, most likely I have. And I have read some amazing books on church leadership, team playing, creating a servant leadership attitude. And I have also read things that have made my eyebrows hit the top of my bang-less hair line. I do not agree with everything I read…. And I am perfectly content with that. It doesn’t scare me, it refines me, it helps me discover more of what God is working on in my heart. I enjoy the wrestle of thought.

So, back to what I was saying… I know the goal for all good moral Christians is this idea of unleashing the leader in all of us. That to ‘arrive’ in one’s potential must land us a titled leadership role. But my question is … where did that thought come from? And what if it isn’t actually true? But what if the opposite isn’t true either? What if it’s not about no one being a leader? What if in fact, it is me being who God created me to be for this season?

For my self, when I look back at all the ‘things’ I was either in charge of or let’s say ‘leading’…. I felt like a round peg stuffed into a square peg (yes, I realize the expression is the other way around, but well… I’m a very round person – insert smiley face).

I thrive in support roles. I absolutely love coming alongside someone, hearing their visions and goals, and somehow helping them take practical steps to move forward with what God has created THEM to do. I know, it’s not glamorous… but I LOVE it. I love that by simply taking time to listen to people you can have much more of an influence in their walk, their journey, rather then telling them exactly what to do and how to do it. I like the organic, movement of journeying. I like the uncertainty and the beautiful discovery. I get a kick at discovering the gem amongst the messiness.

SO why am I thinking about leadership verses a support role? For lots of reasons. I don’t make a very good ‘missionary’. I look at something and think “hmm… if we turned this upside what this do? ” I joked with my dearest friend just over a year ago about ‘American church’…. I was day dreaming about the recent trends in the USA and trends in Europe. I kept rattling off my opinions (there are only a very select few who actually know those thoughts, and I like that). But any how, I turned to her and started laughing… and said “I would run a church into the ground in 6 months tops! And that’s not a good thing”.

You see, I understand programs and I get structure; but at the end of the day my question is how we do love that person on the fringe better?? I would easily pass over the big picture and the grand ideas, because my concern is on that one person. I enjoy spending time with the people that are on the fringe, the ones who think that their best skill is camouflage. I like to know them, discover their heart, and be allowed the honor to walk a bit with them on their journey.

So I leave the leading, the restructuring, the big picture to others that were created to do that. And I seriously praise God for them. In fact, I’m married to one.

As for me, you’ll find me hanging out with lady that hides her face, yet her eyes beckon others in to discover her heart. And I like that place.