Sunday, October 22, 2017

Mystery in Marriage

This summer I started a morning devotional by John Piper, and in the past few days, the topic of many of the devotionals has been about the mystery of marriage. Of course, this is a topic that is on my mind a lot, since I will be entering into the covenant of marriage in July, and I love how Piper points everything in marriage back to Christ. 

You may have heard this oft-quoted sentence from John Piper:



Piper loves to talk about joy and satisfaction, and how we can find complete joy through finding our joy in Christ. He says that seeking our joy is not selfish, because if we are seeking true joy, we are seeking Christ. And this is the same thing we should do in marriage. We find our joy in the joy of our spouse. Making our spouse happy, in turn, makes us happy because we are "one flesh."  

"Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ. 
Wives, submit yourselves to your own husbands as you do to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Savior. Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything.

Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless. In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. After all, no one ever hated their own body, but they feed and care for their body, just as Christ does the church—for we are members of his body. “For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.” This is a profound mystery—but I am talking about Christ and the church. However, each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband."
Ephesians 5:21-33

Marriage is meant to point to the relationship between Christ and the church. A man and a woman, coming together in submission to God. An in that submission, I will also submit to my husband, because God has appointed him to be the head. I recognize the roles that God has given us in marriage, and mine is to support and respect my husband. Since Paul says to do this "as you do to the Lord," that tells me if I am not respecting my {future} husband, I am not respecting Christ. In the same way, if he is not loving me, he is not loving Christ. 

I don't write this in any way as an expert (I've still got a little less than 9 months before I even become a wife!), but just to share what God is teaching me as I prepare for marriage. Those of you who have been married for more than -9 months (haha) feel free to drop me some advice. What has God shown you over the years about the marriage covenant, and its relationship to Christ and the church? 

Thanks for reading my ramblings. I look forward to hearing from some of you.

Alexa
al02846@georgiasouthern.edu

P.S. These doors are at our ceremony venue, and I love the verse above them (Mark 10:9). Would you pray that for us?

Sunday, September 24, 2017

Expectation

Now that I've been back in Honduras for a little over a month, it's seemed like a good time to revisit my "Word for the Year" and do a little self-evaluation (a word that we have been using a lot in my grad classes, which I am also applying to my relationship with God). If you remember, the word I felt like the Lord was giving me to focus on this year was wait. (You can click that link and this one to read more about that word and how I came to choose it.)

Waiting is not something anyone really likes to do, and I did not think that by the end of this year I would become the most patient wait-er ever, but I knew that God would do some kind of work on me, and that this word would become important to me over the course of this year.

I titled this post "Expectation" because expectation and waiting often come hand-in-hand. When we are living in expectation of something, the waiting often becomes that much harder (for me at least). This year has seemed to be full of expectations, and so, full of waiting.

Since Chris proposed in April, I have been living expectantly and waiting to get married next summer.

Since I began this grad school program in May, I have been living expectantly and waiting (and working!) to graduate, also next summer (2 days before the wedding actually).

Since I came back to Honduras, I have been living expectantly and waiting for Chris to get to come visit in February.

My first two weeks here, during teacher planning time, I was living expectantly and waiting for the students to start school.

And this list goes on and on, some things little, some things big. 

The Bible never says it is wrong or bad to have expectations, but it does say "Look here, you who say, 'Today or tomorrow we are going to a certain town and will stay there a year. We will do business there and make a profit.' How do you know what your life will be like tomorrow? Your life is like the morning fog—it’s here a little while, then it’s gone" (James 4:14). I think the problem comes when all our expectations are not in line with God's expectations for us, and we are finding our joy from our own plans, rather than from God Himself.
 
David says in Psalm 16:11 "You make known to me the path of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand." God knows the path of our lives, so the question we need to ask ourselves is "Are my expectations and plans living up to God's expectations and plans for me?" (For the record, my answer is, for the most part, yes). 

And sometimes, this can be hard. Many times, God's "path of life" for us is not the same "path of life" that we would have chosen for ourselves, or that others would choose for us. I tell people all the time that the thought never even crossed my mind that I would live and teach in another country until God called me to do this (and that's partly how I knew it was from God). And then I never knew that I could love it as much as I do. Which makes it, in some ways, hard to return to the US at the end of this year. 

But again, this is the "path of life" God has chosen for me, and although I know that, it may be difficult for other people to see. Just this past summer, my first Sunday back at my home church, someone stopped me to ask about the engagement and where we would be living after we got married. When I responded that I would be moving back to the States after this year, his reaction was, "So you're quitting then?" 

This honestly took me aback, one, because it was so direct from this person in the church that I don't even really know, and two, because that's not how I see things. Honduras and Destino will always have a huge part of my heart, and Chris and I will continue to pray for and support this ministry even while living in the States, but I know God has plans for me, "plans to prosper [me] and not to harm [me], plans to give [me] hope and a future" (Jeremiah 29:11).

So then comes the second part of David's psalm: "You will fill me with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand" (16:11b). My joy is wherever the Lord is, and wherever I can join Him in the work He is already doing. For the next 8 1/2 months, that is Honduras, and I will continue to
"work at it with all [my] heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters" (Colossians 3:23). My waiting and expectations for the future will not distract me from the work the Lord still has me doing here. And when I return to the US, God knows the work I will be doing. He already has it lined up, even as I'm praying and trying not to worry about it. And again, I will "serve wholeheartedly, as if [I] were serving the Lord, not people" (Ephesians 6:7).

Alexa 
al02846@georgiasouthern.edu

Sunday, August 27, 2017

The Last Go 'Round

Hello everyone! I'm back from my summer of silence on the blog. I got to Honduras last Friday and have spent the last week and few days resettling in and getting ready for the new year. We have two new English teachers this year, one of which is my housemate, so I've spent some time helping them as well.

All the teachers went back to work on Monday for training and time in our prayer groups. Tuesday we got to spend a little time working on school plans, and then Wednesday through Friday we were out doing home visits. As always, these were long days, but it's great to see the families and students again, and even better now that I can keep up with what's going on and pray with the families in Spanish (for the most part!). We ended the week with our traditional lunch at Las Caba├▒as and a group photo.


This week will be more planning and getting ready for classes to start the following week! It's weird to think that this will be my last year teaching here, but I am planning to savor every moment. At the beginning of teacher training, we were asked to tell everyone what God had been teaching us, and mine is to be present in the moment. I know there are a lot of exciting things coming in the future, but right now, God still has me here, so I am going to do everything while I'm here to the best of my ability, and "all for the glory of God" (1 Corinthians 10:31). 

Thanks to all who continue to pray for me. I look forward to keeping you updated on what is going to be another amazing year!

Alexa
al02846@georgiasouthern.edu

Sunday, May 28, 2017

May Madness

I think the title of this post says it all. This has been the craziest month. Here's a little peek into what it has entailed:

I started my first semester of graduate school online this month. And while taking four classes and trying to finish the school year well has been hard, I am actually enjoying everything I am learning, and my classes are going well so far. Hard to believe I am already one third of the way done with this first semester!

Last week the colegio had its third annual missions day on Friday, which I was in charge of organizing. (Luckily, I talked one of the tenth grade girls into being the MC so I could lead from behind the scenes!) Our classes spent about three weeks learning about another country's culture and religion to present on this day. We learned about Nigeria, Indonesia, and Brasil from 9th, 7th, and 8th grade in the morning, and even had a missionary couple share about their work in Indonesia while encouraging our students to become missionaries. In the afternoon 11th grade got to share about what it means to be an unreached and/or unengaged people group, and 10th grade shared one of these people groups from each country we had learned about in the morning. We closed the day with a sweet time of prayer for each country/people group.

 





This past Friday was Field Day for the escuela, but the week began with me trying to push through a nasty virus that has been going around. Lucky for me, my older classes went to a futbol game on Wednesday, so I was able to go home early and get some rest to be in shape for the craziness on Friday. Field Day was a blast as always. What kid doesn't love a whole day of games and no classes, especially when they got to spend the last hour playing futbol!





Also somewhere in this month was picture day for my 9th graders and 11th graders who will be graduating. This 11th grade class is the one I took over in the middle of my first year when they were in 9th grade, a decision I knew God was calling me to, but was terrified to make, and ended up being the best thing ever. I love these 11 kids, and I will be so sad to see them go.





























Hard to believe there is only one week left of classes, and then it's post planning and graduations. Here's to making the most of these last three weeks before summer break!

Alexa
al02846@georgiasouthern.edu

Sunday, April 23, 2017

Comprometida (Engaged)

Many of you probably heard the news, but while I was in the States for Spring Break, I got engaged! I am extremely grateful to God for bringing my fiance Chris into my life in His perfect timing and His perfect ways. I wanted to share a little bit of our story here.

When I first came to Honduras a little over two and a half years ago, one of the things I began praying was that the Lord would guard my heart. I had just graduated college and I wanted to be singularly focused going into this ministry. I wanted to grow even deeper in my relationship with God and follow the plan He had for my future, whether that included marriage or not. I have always wanted to be a wife, but I wanted it to be with the person I knew God had for me. So this was my prayer. The Lord still knew the desires of my heart, and I would still pray for the Lord to bring me to the one He had for me when the time was right, but I also prayed that the Lord would be my husband (Isaiah 54:5) and be all that I needed in my life. 

This prayer became even more fervent when I found out I had three weddings to be a part of in the summer of 2016. I didn't want my heart to get caught up in the fact that everyone around me was getting married, and I was still single. That summer I made it through my brother's wedding, and my friend Rebecca's wedding without incident. The final wedding of the summer was for my best friend Kimberly. I will spare you most of the details, but the day before the wedding I first laid eyes on Chris as he was running around her front yard with Wesley's (Kim's soon-to-be-husband) kids. From then on my eyes were drawn to him. If you know me, you know how shy I can be around people I don't know well. This was no different, and although Chris (who is also a little shy) made a few attempts to talk to me over the weekend, I didn't make it easy. 

After wedding weekend was over, I got together with my newly-married friend, and that's when it all came out that not only was I interested in Chris, but he had been talking about me to Wesley (who happened to be one of his best friends). Being the great friend that she is, Kim invited us both to her birthday dinner (just 3 days after the wedding) to hang out and see how it went. We actually did talk that night, and I shared with him all about Honduras. After leaving that night, I put it all in the Lord's hands. He knew where I was and what I was doing here, and I wasn't sure that he would want to "take that on." But he was still on my mind.

The next week was July 4th. I went on vacation with my family, he went on vacation with Kim, Wesley, and the kids. While there, he got my number from Kim, we started talking, he asked to take me on an "actual date" when we were both back in town. I reminded him that I lived 10 months out of the year in another country, but that didn't scare him away. We went on our first date July 10th, and we were pretty inseparable the rest of the summer.

After a couple of weeks, I still felt unsure that he really knew what he was getting himself into. My tendency to worry started to take over, and I feared that once the summer was over and I was back in Honduras, his interest would fade, even though he assured me it wouldn't. After three different confirmations from the Lord about stepping out of my fear and trusting what He was doing, we "officially" entered into a relationship on July 29th. I came back to Honduras to start my 3rd year of teaching, and he has been nothing but supportive since. 

I can't tell you when exactly I knew that he was the one I would marry. Maybe I sort of always knew. I just trusted the fact that the Lord had been answering my prayers by guarding my heart until I met him, and that he was the one the Lord had for me. So of course on April 11th in the middle of our hike though FDR State Park, when he asked me to marry him I said yes!

Since then, I have gotten a few questions about our plans for the future. I already knew I would be returning to Honduras for another school year, and that has not changed. 2017-2018 will be my last year here at Destino del Reino. I will also still be completing my masters online, starting in just a few weeks actually, and finishing up the week before we get married! After that, I will (hopefully!) get employed in a school system stateside, devote myself to being a Godly wife and serving my husband, and see what other doors of ministry God opens up for me! I am looking forward to this next chapter in my life, although at the same time I know I will miss this chapter terribly. Would you be praying for us as we prepare to become one, and start a marriage that reflects Christ and the Church? Thank you for loving us, and praying for us.


 Alexa
al02846@georgiasouthern.edu

Saturday, March 25, 2017

Rescue

Last week at Destino, we had a team visiting from a church in Texas. The leader of the team was a youth pastor, and he led a conference for our 7th-11th grade students while they were here, which was a fun time of learning (for them and for me!). The pastor, Jordan, shared two big Bible stories: that of Joshua, and of Daniel and his friends Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. Reflecting on these stories, the Lord led me to one major theme: His rescue of His people. 

In the story of Joshua, the people are once again at the bank of a river, during the flood season no less, and needing to cross. So just as with Moses and the Red Sea, God parted the Jordan River so the Israelites could cross and take possession of the Promised Land. I think about how incredibly miraculous it would be to stand on the bank of that river and watch the priests walk forward in faith, carrying the Ark of the Covenant on their shoulders, and seeing the river immediately stop flowing as soon as their feet touched the edge of the water. What an incredible sight to see!


Then in the story of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, we see them willing to stand firm in their convictions of not worshiping any idol, even under the threat of being thrown in the fiery furnace. I hae always loved their response to the King in Daniel 3:16-18:

Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego replied to him, 
“King Nebuchadnezzar, 
we do not need to defend ourselves before you in this matter. 
 If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, 
the God we serve is able to deliver us from it, 
and he will deliver us from Your Majesty’s hand.  
But even if he does not, we want you to know, Your Majesty, 
that we will not serve your gods 
or worship the image of gold you have set up.”

Can you imagine their courage? I'm sure we have all had the thought at some point, "What if God doesn't rescue me from this?", and that's usually the moment I start to take things into my own hands, but Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego left it in the hands of God. They must have had that "peace of God, which transcends all understanding" (Philippians 4:7). And in the end, God not only miraculously rescued them, without "a hair of their heads singed" (Daniel 3:27), but He also was present in the fire with them (Daniel 3:25).

When you walk through the fire, 
you will not be burned;
the flames will not set you ablaze.
Isaiah 4:32c

And then there is the story of Daniel being thrown into the lions' den for praying to God, rather than the King, and God sends His angel to shut the mouths of the lions so that Daniel would not be hurt (Daniel 6:22).



All three of these stories show God's miraculous rescue of His people. And there are many more in the Bible that make you stop and say, "Wow!" But then there are some stories of rescue in the Bible that don't really seem like a rescue. The story of Jonah comes to mind.

Jonah, running from God's call, got on a boat in the opposite direction to flee from the Lord. While out on the sea, the Lord sent a terrible storm, which led to all the sailors crying out to their gods and trying to lighten the ship. When it comes to light that Jonah is the reason for the storm, he suggests they throw him overboard into the sea, and when they did, the sea immediately was calm.

Then the Bible says that "the Lord provided a huge fish to swallow Jonah" (Jonah 1:17) and three days later "the Lord commanded the fish, and it vomited Jonah onto dry land" (Jonah 2:10). This doesn't seem like that great a rescue. I mean Lord, part the sea, save me from the fire, don't let the lions eat me, but swallowed by a fish and then spit up three days later? Um, no thanks.

But without that fish, Jonah would have been dead. He was stupid enough to run from the Lord (and let's be honest, we all have at some point) so the Lord SENT the storm, which caused Jonah to be thrown overboard and swallowed by the fish He PROVIDED, and then He COMMANDED the fish to vomit Jonah onto dry ground. Jonah's rescue may not have been as flashy as Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego's or Daniel's, but it was still a rescue. Without those three days to think in the belly of the fish, would Jonah have repented and changed his ways? Maybe not, only the Lord knows.

The point of this super long post is that whatever situation we are in, God can rescue us from it, even if we don't necessarily want or think we need a rescue. I know I have experienced some moments of rescue in my life that have felt truly miraculous, like when I hydroplaned and totaled my car, but walked out without a scratch or any soreness. But I have also experienced times of rescue that didn't really feel like a rescue at the time, much like Jonah. A rescue from something I thought I wanted, that God knew wasn't best for me, and although the rescue was forced, and maybe a little painful at the time, I can look back now and see how God was really rescuing me from myself, and I think Jonah would probably say the same.

So now I say thank you God, for the situations you have "vomited" me out of, and I trust your plan of rescue, no matter what it looks like in my life. 


Alexa
al02846@georgiasouthern.edu

Saturday, February 18, 2017

Where are you serving from?

"Spiritual exhaustion never comes through sin but only through service, and whether or not you are exhausted will depend upon where you get your supplies. . . . The process of being made broken bread and poured out wine means that you have to be the nourishment for other souls until they learn to feed on God. Be careful that you get your supply, or before long you will be utterly exhausted."

This was part of an Oswald Chambers' devotional my mom sent me the other day after we had talked and she felt that I was worn out. Funny enough, that same morning the devotional I read also spoke of exhaustion, relaying the story of Elijah from 1 Kings, and saying, "God knew Elijah was worn out, and He knows you are too. . . . You won't find answers in the calamity and chaos. Listen instead for the still small voice."

I have confessed many times before that I am a people-pleaser, which I think is where my workaholicness stems from. I feel like I always need to be doing something for someone, which leads to...you guessed it, exhaustion. 

I think a lot of people struggle with this. It's not that the things we are doing are bad, they could be good things, but its a matter of WHY you're doing them, and WHO you're doing them for.

For me, my automatic response is yes when someone asks me to do something. And the Lord continually reminds me that I need to take a step back and ask myself, is this really something He is asking me to do, or do I just feel like I need to do it because this person asked me to. If the first, then I know He will give me the strength and whatever else I need to get it done. But if the second, it will leave me exhausted. 

So Oswald Chambers reminded me that I need to serve from my position in Christ, not to gain other people's acceptance, or for any other reason. And my devotion reminded me to take the time to WAIT (my word for the year) and listen for that still, small voice to guide me in my decisions. 

I feel like I've probably written something like this before, but it keeps coming up, so clearly it's a lesson I'm still learning, and maybe someone else needs to hear it, too. Let these verses from Isaiah encourage you, as they have me:

Image result for isaiah 40:28 

Alexa
al02846@georgiasouthern.edu