Did you think I’d forgotten about you? Yes, I am still here, and no I did not vanish in Africa. I’ve just never made my way to my computer.
It’s been quite a looooong time since I’ve posted, and my deepest apologies for that. Can’t really explain why, but I can just tell about what has happened since then.
Just before my real quick furlough trip in May, through the Holy Spirit taking control of matters and God teaching me A LOT about it, I made the transition from my role in Living Services to joining the outstanding team God has assembled in Living Way on the AgriAcademy Program. Through months of service there, starting out completing small projects, handling routine procedures around the farm, and working with the incredible short term teams of American volunteers, to managing the farm and workers while Joey Lankford and Taylor Nash (two vital members to the platform) made their furlough trips back to the US with their families. And now I continue to help manage the day-to-day operations while the other move through a massive transition period of revamping some of the program, recruiting and beginning the next phases of the students. It’s been an opportunity that, not only was a huge reason I felt called to come serve here, but I’ve cherished, valued, learned from in SO many ways, and will be an absolute major bullet point of my walk with The Lord. (If you would like to learn more about the program and what it’s about you can always email me or check out the ministries page of the Living Hope website.) What else?
Most everyone knows by now that back in May, during my furlough back in the US, I proposed to the lovely Jamison Stewart and by God’s order, she said yes. I like to imagine there was a little bit of personal desire influencing that decision for her, as well. It was so exciting and affirming, personally, feeling God move and work in the months building up to that moment and creating the opportunity for something that both Jamison and I have been so eagerly waiting and praying for. Many know our journey, individual and combined, and that same many have had a hard time understanding it, but still have supported us any way they could. What a blessing that has been. For seven years now, Jamison and I have known there was something very special about our relationship and that we definitely felt God bringing us together for the long haul, we just never were clear on when exactly when that would go to the next. And for her to move to Boston, and me to move to the other side of the world, it took a whole lot of trust and faith that He would make this day happen, but in His time, which is one of the most difficult duties in really following Christ. But here I am, a year after moving thousands of miles away from Jamison, wrapping up the final details of my time here in Cape Town, and packing up to move back to Tennessee.
WHAT?!! Yes, that’s right folks, this show is pulling up its stakes and headed back to the promise land (Tennessee, for those unfortunate ones who don’t call that home…..know I pray for you). Despite the trend amongst Jamison and I’s relationship, we would like to spend our marriage, not only in the same city for once, but actually in the same house! Horrayyyy! Even joking about skyping in the wedding did not go over well. On a serious note, in the moments of pray and discernment when I felt God presenting the opportunity that I had been desiring for such a long time, I realized and understood that meant the end of my time of service here with Living Hope in Cape Town. Whether that is for good, or just temporarily, that’s for God to reveal in His time and is not important to the journey that He has me on at this stage. It was a decision that I’ve been at absolute peace in and understanding God’s choice.
Honestly,what made me pray about that decision more than anything was seeing God continue to shape me and develop into the team that serves this ministry here at Living Hope, an opportunity I’ve been seeking for year and that’s built me more than anything I’ve ever been a part of in my life. And now here’s God revealing me the next step in my journey (the one step I’ve been so anxious to know when would happen since Jamison and I started dating) sooner than I, honestly, thought would happen. But I was so overwhelmed with joy, happiness, gratefulness, and excitement that God told me I am finally ready in His eyes, for what He has next for me.
To put in perspective that gratefulness and joy, you have to understand that for 7 YEARS, I have been dreaming for this opportunity to start my life with Jamison. I spent some it trying to make it happen on my own, and the rest of it understanding that it would only happen through God, which revealed to my how incredibly special and important God felt that part of my life was. That he would not let it happen without Him being the key part of it. So I prayed, begging Him to make it happen. I think about the parable Jesus tells in the Word about the persistent widow who kept going to the judge in her town begging for justice. And after a while, the judge finally granted her just that. Jesus says in Luke 18:7-8, “Will not God grant justice to His elect who cry out to Him day and night? Will He delay to help them? I tell you that He will swiftly grant them justice…” The big misunderstanding of this parable is that if we pester God with our requests, He has to put up with them, and He has to grant them. Wrong! First thing I learned here is that in there it says “His elect”, or His chosen ones. Sons and daughters of God that are in relationship with Him by responding to The Gospel. That’s key. The Lord won’t just grant me my request because I beg him to. He hears them, absolutely. But just because He doesn’t give what I want when I want it, doesn’t mean He doesn’t hear it. What I hear is that there is something personally about myself, about my relationship with Him, my understanding and response to Him, that isn’t satisfying in His opinion. Something that deems me unworthy of what I am asking. I am not ready yet. But God loves me. God loves us. Romans 8:32 ~ “He did not even spare His own Son but offered Him up for us all; how will He not also WITH HIM grant us everything?”. He’s taken me on a journey to mold me, shape me, prepare me in His own way for what He has in store for me. And for Him to tell me that He knows I am ready for what I have been desperately asking for, strikes so much gratefulness and excitement inside of me.
In one of my first posts when I landed here in South Africa, I wrote about how God takes us sometimes to the “wilderness” or our own personal “wilderness”. And that’s where God is preparing you for the next big thing. And He takes you to a moment where there’s only Him. When I look back at this past year of service, that’s the only thing that keeps popping up in my mind about how to sum it all up. He has brought me here, surrounded by extremely influential servants of God and jaw-dropping, extremely emotional, life-changing, mind-shaping, heart-braking moments of the Holy Spirit moving through me and opening my eyes the outrageous, authentic power of God. Sure, in every stage of your walk with Jesus, he prepares you for what’s on the horizon. But there has been something very very very special and significant about this stage for me, personally. Something very significant about the people that God has strategically placed around me, speaking to me, pouring into me. Something very significant about the events that have happened, the encounters and opportunities that have occurred and that the Lord presented. Was I out to truly serve Him? Not before. Had I actually surrendered every single part of my life to Him? Heck no! Did I actually know Him as much as I told myself I did? Not even in the slightest. But, now, am I where God wants me and headed where He wants me to go? Through the magnificent peace provided through surrendered to God, loving Jesus Christ, and allowing the Holy Spirit to take control, I believe I am.
I return home to Tennessee October 8th. I’ll be stepping into a small role in the Missions Department of Brentwood Baptist Church, which I could not be more excited about and grateful for the opportunity. It’s going to be exciting to see what God reveals along the journey.
How you wonderful people can pray for me during this time:
-There’s a lot of aspects of this next big step that God has yet to reveal. Pray for me to continue to trust Him.
– Pray for this next year of engagement for Jamison and I. Our wedding is set for September 19th of next year. It’s a good bit of ways away, but there’s a good amount of pieces of this puzzle that still need to come together. Just pray for us during that time, that we continue to grow in our relationship and to God in preparation for starting our lives together.
– Pray for the incredible team here in the program I am stepping away from at Living Hope. That God continues to bless them, guide them, protect them, and reveal Himself to them in the powerful ways He has been. God is working through them to continue to build something incredible, and just pray He continues to do that.