Wednesday, April 30, 2014

This is a sign!

I know a lot people who collect things. Some things are normal, like coffee mugs, rocks, shot glasses, t-shirts, or even salt and pepper shakers. I am cheap, so I collect pictures of funny signs. Some of the cheesiest signs are church marquees.  I don’t know who comes up with them, but they usually make me laugh. Even when they’re serious.
Not the person that did this sign!
This one is just cheesy.

But every once in a while, church signs are encouraging.  This last Wednesday was my last day of work, and as I left I got stuck in a HUGE traffic jam. For an hour and a half I waited as everyone had to exit the highway and take an alternate route. As I sat in traffic, I started to pray, thinking of all the things that need to happen in the next 2-3 months before leaving for Bolivia.  I was starting to realize that I was completely unemployed, and completely dependent on the Lord to provide. I was confident that I was where I needed to be, but at the same time, I was unsure of how it was going to happen.

Then as I was sitting in traffic, I noticed a church sign on the side of the road. It was electronic, so it flashed a few words at a time, “ DO NOT FEAR – I AM WITH YOU- DO NOT BE DISMAYED – I AM YOUR GOD- I WILL STRENGTHEN YOU- AND HELP YOU – I WILL UPHOLD YOU- WITH MY RIGHT HAND” and then traffic moved. I thanked God for the reminder, and made a note to look up the verse when I got home.

30 minutes later I was still sitting in traffic, and had started to make a to-do list in my mind. As I made my list in my head, I started to get anxious again. Then I felt my phone buzz. Because I was in traffic that wasn’t moving, I picked it up to see an email from a mentor. She was checking in to see how I was doing, and shared a verse with me. Someone had shared this verse with her 18 years before as she and her family moved to Bolivia. “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
Well, no need to look it up anymore! What are the chances that in a span of 30 minutes in traffic I would be reminded of the same verse two times! The Lord is so faithful to remind us of His faithfulness and goodness when we forget. How encouraging that God speaks to us…even if He has to shut down the highway and repeat himself for us to listen!
 
**If you are interested in giving to what the Lord is doing in Bolivia through me, I would love to talk with you more! **
To give a monthly or one time gift online, please visit https://web.simusa.org/give/index.php?FundID=042110-001&LNme=Graves&Dsg=Support 

Thursday, April 17, 2014

En el amanecer y el anochecer!


And God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light.  God saw that the light was good, and he separated the light from the darkness. God called the light “day,” and the darkness he called “night.” And there was evening, and there was morning—the first day.” Genesis 1:3-5

In the last few years, the Lord has often used stories and analogies to teach me more about who He is. I don’t know how many times I've read this verse, but when I really started to think about it, its pretty crazy, and also really vague. When God decided to make light - it happened. When he decided to make the darkness - that happened. It says that He separated the light and the darkness, but it doesn't really explain how that happened, and that’s okay.

As I was thinking about the sunrise and sunset, God reminded me that speed is not most important but our praise. I am by no means an expert on the rotation of the planets, or anything else really. But, I do know that God is powerful, and he easily could have snapped his fingers each day to separate the darkness from the light. He could have just made a rule that at 8:30 PM, the sun and the moon switch places. God has the power to do things quickly and efficiently.

But instead, he choose to make it pretty. He allows the sun to set and rise slowly overtime, and He does the same thing in our lives. He could make things happen with a word, but he doesn't always. He allows things to happen over time, so that we can trust Him. So that we can see the colors that it makes. Just like a sunrise or a sunset, so much beauty would be lost if God allowed things to just happen with a snap of His fingers. 

As I began the support raising process, I had high hopes that God would snap his fingers and provide for every need. But I am so thankful He hasn't! The last month has taught me so much about what it looks like to be completely dependent on God. There have been moments when I cried in frustration with myself, but there have been countless moments where I have been blown away by God’s faithfulness to provide.

It has been so encouraging to me to be reminded in sunsets and sunrises that our God is not about efficiency or speed. He is powerful, but He is also the God that created the world. He really does make beautiful things, and makes all things beautiful in His time, not my own. I pray that you would be encouraged to remember that God is in charge of everything and He is good! :)

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Awesome Things I Didn't Expect!

“For when you did awesome things that we did not expect, you came down, and the mountains trembled before you.” Isaiah 64:3

Hello friends!
I have been reading in Isaiah, and at the beginning of this week, I wrote this verse at the top of my planner. Even though I KNOW God is powerful and can do awesome things, I don’t normally expect Him to.

As most of you know, I am in the process or raising financial and prayer support in order to move to Bolivia. In the past when I have gone to Bolivia or Mexico, I knew I was dependent on the Lord for financial support, but I also felt somewhat capable of doing it myself. I have spent the last 5 years saving for the time I would move to a different country; however, as I have prepared to MOVE to Bolivia, my dependence on the Lord has been tested. No longer is it something I am able to do, but something only God could do-which is probably how it should be. :)

Anyway, when I went to training several weeks ago in North Carolina, I was told that the visa for Bolivia can take up to three months to receive. I did some quick math, and realized that meant I needed to apply by April 15. Then I learned that I needed to be at 70% of my monthly budget before applying for the visa. Once again, my math skills told me that was highly unlikely to raise 70% of my budget in the next 4 weeks.

BUT GOD IS ABLE. Over the last few weeks, I have been overwhelmed by so many people that are willing to pray, and give of their resources to invest in what God is doing through me in Bolivia.
Then this morning I got a phone call that reminded me that God does do awesome things that I don’t expect. I had applied this week to receive support from my church in Denton, The Village. I knew it was a long process to get approved, and so I didn’t expect to be able to have it before I could apply for the visa. This morning I found out that I was “accidentally” included on the budget for this year already!!

What a great reminder that God was not surprised by the timeline of the visa or anything else. He has clearly led me to this point, and I am blown away by the ways He has provided through my friends, family, and even strangers. Within 2 weeks He has provided 40% of my monthly budget!! Thank you so much for your prayers, God is at work doing awesome things!

Please pray that God would continue to provide the rest of the support to apply for the visa, and monthly financial supporters as well.

Love you all!

If you are interested in giving monthly, this is a breakdown of what is left!
$100 monthly – 4 People
$50 monthly- 11 People
$25 monthly – 20 People
Mount Tunari, Cochabamba, Bolivia