Monthly Archives: May 2012

I would name this post “Untitled” but technically that is a title. So I’ll just call it “I Don’t Have a Clever Name for this Blog Post so I’m Just Going to Name it Something Preposterous.”

Well guys, I’m still in Brazil.

Life here, what is happening here, is far more and far different from what I ever expected (Ephesians 3:20, anyone?) I feel like right now is one of those times in which I feel incredibly insecure and just dumb in my faith when in all actuality what is happening is that God is simply humbling me. Simply humbling, haha…I act like it’s a simple task or something. Anyway, I think that statement best sums up my spiritual state here so far. I know that in the times in my life in which I experienced most growth were the times in which I was the most convinced of my failure. That’s not to say that being doubtful or self-deprecating is good, but that for some reason a whirlwind of mystery and un-sureness seems to surround the most fruit-growing times in my life. 

I have learned so much about things I thought I already knew about in the past 2 weeks. I think I know stuff, and then God teaches me the same things again to show me that I have no freaking idea about anything. It’s good – it keeps me interested. 

Let me just tell you, writing a blog is hard…you never know what to include and what’s just too weird to say and whose name not to drop and whose name to most-def drop. I will say, though, life here in Brazil isn’t that much different. I mean, there’s plumbing, and electricity, people eat off of plates, and I can still use a computer. I knew I wasn’t going to be living in a hut off of the Amazon, but I think I secretly did think that…silly American. I guess what I’m getting at is that I’m not that much different in Brazil. Like, I’m not all of a sudden super humble, picking up babies everywhere I go and giving my life away to them. I still put makeup on everyday, I still use waaaay too much hairspray everyday, I still act rude and say stuff I shouldn’t and function out of my own insecurities – just like in the US. Brazil hasn’t changed me. It turns out it’s been God all along. 

So yeah. I have discovered a lot of interesting things about myself and my future here. Vague enough for you? But in all seriousness, I feel like in the past week I have learned so much about how wrong I can be. Just in general. Talking to some of the girls I live with and my leader here, I just realized how much life has to offer and how little of it I take (holiday at the sea, anyone?) 

I guess I’ll just get right to the point. I have been living with and functioning under this mentality that God doesn’t really want me to be happy. Why, you ask. Heck if I know. Because I’m human and wrong (Psalm 103:14). I’ve been paying a lot of attention to the way I live in the Gospel, and there is this huge gap between my confessional theology and my functional theology (or what I like to call the ideal world and the real world). Basically, I know a whole bunch of stuff about the way a Christian should be and all of the right answers and yada, yada, yada. But I don’t really believe I can live this stuff out. In doing this, I’m not only (obviously) not having any sort of faith in myself, but I’m also not trusting the identity that God specifically gave me. 

And the question I’ve been asking God and myself is, What is that?!

It’s kind of funny. It’s so simple. The answer is, I mean. Just put my trust in Jesus, right? Duh. But that’s so much harder to live out than to just say.

And – being myself – I have been racking my brain about how I can fix this. God was very quick to answer that. Nothing is what I can do. In my own power, there is NOTHING I can do to solve this problem. I am a sinner! How the heck am I going to do anything about it? I’m the one who got myself into this situation in the first place. But He was also quick to give me another, much more hope-invoking answer, too.

Pray. Pray about it and pray for it.

And I have to depend on Him for that. 

In all, I know I am here on a mission and that God has given me a heart for that mission while I’m here. In all of the tough times, not once have I questioned whether or not I should be here. And that’s nice.

I’ve seen, also, that I still have so much growing up to do. My leader here, Jen, was telling me today that the way my spiritual life looks here is much more similar to real life and I was so thankful to hear that. It has been hard – my time here is so much less about me and so much more about the 5,612,178,099,743 things and people I need to be thinking about on a daily basis. I realized that I’ve grown incredibly spoiled in my spiritual life. Thus far, it’s been mostly about me. In the past, when I felt wrong, weird, or just funny, I isolated myself and journaled about it. And don’t hear me saying that that’s not good. It most certainly is. But when you start feeling funny and journaling doesn’t seem to be helping and you’re in a group of people and it would be kind of weird for you to get up, isolate yourself, and journal about your sin, what are you going to do? I’ll tell you what you’re going to do, you’re going to get over it and trust God’s grace. See, I have always struggled with legalism – I want to do my faith. I want to fix it and make it look nice and pretty. But I have an ugly heart and sometimes people see that. And sometimes getting by myself and getting it all out is not how I need to fix it. What I need to do in those situations is to trust that God will still love me and that He will fix it. Because in the end, He’s the One making it all work, anyway. So, yeah…sorry for my time on the soap box. I’ll descend.

I think I’ve run out of things to say, but I want to leave y’all with a verse that has been in my heart for the past few months:

Philippians 2:12-13

“Therefore, my dear friends . . . continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose.”

 

Faith isn’t easy.

The end.

 

P.S. Allison Preg, thank you for what you said on my wall – I needed to hear (read?) that. I love you, roomie.

P.S.S. Kimberly Allerton. I miss you. Steph and I talk about you. A lot. Let’s hang out at Beach Project? One-on-one, maybe?

P.S.S.S. Katie Sherrod, thank you for your encouragement and for reading – it really makes it all worthwhile 🙂 

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Trials and Turbulation

Hi friends.

I’m in Brazil. So much has already happened. So much. To me, in me, just me. In just three days, I have already seen sooo much. It’s kind of unbelievable. 

This place is beautiful. It is amazing. The people, the food, the city, the weather – all of it is amazing.

The plane ride over…not so amazing. The flight from Atlanta to Miami was rough. We flew through a lightning storm and I literally thought I was going to die. That was an exercise in trusting the Lord. And then, once we landed in BH (that’s what the Brazilians call Belo Horizonte – BH [pronounced bay-aga]), we found out that our luggage had not arrived with us. So for 2 days we went without clothes, shampoo, toothbrushes, etc. It was a good time to (unintentionally) fast from things. 

Also, sorry this is so disorganized and that it doesn’t make much sense. Maybe the next time I blog it will be more focused. Being here has been a sort of uprooting for me. 

I would generally describe the overall feeling of my short time here as discomfort. Not in a bad, self-pitying way but in a good, tear-you-down-then-build-you-up sort of way. I have learned more than ever that my one and only identity is in Jesus Christ and my Father. They are the only Ones who will without a doubt satisfy me and love me perfectly. God has spoken to me so much since I’ve been here. It’s been hard to hear Him sometimes…I’m facing a lot of my insecurities and flaws right now – but it has been so beneficial for me. He has been so loving and intimate to show me that He is absolutely relentless in His pursuit of me. It can be hard and harsh sometimes, but it is so good to see that He cares so much about one so small as me. 

In all, I have just felt completely overwhelmed. By almost literally everything. The language is different. The lifestyle is different. The people I’m with are different than the people I’m with in the States. I don’t necessarily fit in here. I’m American, and people know it (though the general consensus seems to be that I’m either Italian or Argentine). Regardless, I am finding myself in a place in which I am in a complete lack of control. And I love to be in control.

There is so much I want to say. But I’m still processing, still trying to figure stuff out. Who am I here?

That’s a question that has popped up a lot in my subconscious. But it’s really cool because even in my subconscious God is present. I had a migraine the other day (something that happens to me a lot, unfortunately) and I was lying in bed, feeling sorry for myself and just doubting a lot. And God spoke to me (something that happens to me a lot, thankfully). He said to me in a voice so tender, Tabitha, just be Tabitha, please.

And I think that’s an important thing for every single Christian out there to get. Don’t dare try to be someone you’re not. God desires you as you are. It’s so simple to understand but so hard to believe.

I don’t know if that’s helpful, profound, or incredibly obtuse to you. But it was so sweet to me. To hear God begging me in a time of pain and weakness to just be myself. His love for me doesn’t make sense to me. 

Well, I think I’ve said as much as I can remember. There is so much – I wish I could recall and tell it all. But I hope that keeps you interested enough to keep reading. And please, keep praying. God desires these Brazilians, and He will have them. But please pray that we will be obedient, joyful children in our time here.

Revelation 5:9 says,

“And they sang a new song, saying:

‘You are worthy to take the scroll
    and to open its seals,
because you were slain,
    and with your blood you purchased for God
    persons from every tribe and language and people and nation.'”

God bless!

 

P.S. I realize that turbulation isn’t actually a word, but after being incredibly sleep-deprived from the Miami to BH flight (that was 7 hours) I realized that my words weren’t working as well as I’d hoped. So the word turbulence suddenly became turbulation…it’s fine.

Well, I’m going to Brazil…

Hi friends.

This is my first ever blog. I am nervous. Please read my words with gentility and without judgment. I hope I spell everything right and that it all makes sense…it is 2:08 am, after all.

I’m not much for blogs…other people having them is fine. Me having one is way too much pressure. However, seeing as I’m leaving for Brazil in approximately 29 hours, I thought it was high time I get one of these things. Plus, my dear friend Rachel more or less forced me to get one. Well, not really. But she did suggest that I get one.

So here I am. And here you are.

And I’m leaving for Brazil in 29 hours. And I have been an emotional wreck for the past 72. Preparing yourself to fly away from pretty much everything you love is a lot harder than you might think. It’s probably because I didn’t realize until today that that’s what I would be doing. Sure, I knew that I was going to be in a different country…but I didn’t think about what I would be leaving behind. And the prideful, “strong” part of me is/was saying, That’s not what it’s about. It’s about the people in Brazil…it’s about obeying the Lord. And it most certainly is about that. But I don’t think it’s God telling me to ignore my feelings and just suck it up. That doesn’t sound much like God to me. So what I’ve been learning most over these past few days is that God cares about me – a lot. Like, He really, really cares for me. Revolutionary.

I think I thought I was supposed to be this super Christian (whatever the freak that is) and be resilient and aloof (psh) and not be hindered by my fears. But I’m still insecure, silly, fearful, naiive Tabitha Rayner. I’m not some super-aware grown up whose been through it all. I still get incredibly scared when I think of giving up what I want for the unknown of what God wants. 

By the way, whoever thought it was cool to be aloof was wrong. Being aloof is perhaps the least cool thing ever. If we could all not care, I guess we all would be a bunch of stoney-hearted jerks…sorry, I’ll get off my lil soap box now. But serioulsy, go read Hosea 10:11-12. God wants soft-hearted people, not comfortable, bored know-it-alls.

Anyway, the thought of going to Brazil is at once completely exciting and entirely unsettling. So many emotions have coursed through my heart and mind in the past few days that I honestly don’t even think I could recall all of them. The most prevalent thing that I’ve been seeing lately is my sinfulness and unwillingness to trust God. I think I can and should and am supposed to handle everything by myself, with my own little feeble hands. In a moment of vulnerability with the Lord yesterday, I was reminded of 2 Corinthians 12:9. His power works best in weakness. I am so expendable. He is so great. This trip is an honor; the fact that He even chose me to be a part of His family is an honor. I saw this today on one of my facebook friend’s statuses – it’s from Sarah Young’s devotional “Jesus Calling”:

“If you learn to trust Me – really trust Me – with your whole being, then nothing can separate you from My peace. Everything you endure can be put to good use by allowing it to train you in trusting Me. This is how you foil the works of evil, growing in grace throught the very adversity that was meant to harm you.”

Satan has been on my back since the day I decided to follow the Lord with my whole heart 2 summers ago. He really hates me. And sometimes he convinces me that his voice is God’s voice. But God always redeems me and I know that it is all a part of God’s plan to strengthen my faith and make me wiser and more faithful. What a blessing. So Brazil, really, isn’t going to change me. God is. He already has, and He will until Jesus comes back for me. Philippians 1:6.

So, if you’ve stuck it out this far, I have one more request. Please pray for me. For my team. For the beautiful, hungry hearts of the Brazilians we will meet.

Here are my prayer requests (they are not in order of importance, by the way):

1) That we would truly befriend the Brazilians and learn from them

2) That we would forget ourselves and be heavy with the truth of the Gospel

3) That we would be jealous for their souls and intercede for them with perseverance

4) That we would be absolutely overwhelmed by God’s beauty and grace

5) That we would learn to depend solely on the Lord and His identity for us

6) That we would not struggle with culture and reverse culture shock

 

May the Lord bless you and keep you. May the Lord make His face shine upon you.

 

Ta ta for now, fair readers.

You are all completely beautiful in your own, perfectly you way.