Juxtapose.

Full Heart . . . . Longing Heart

Understanding – – – – Confusion

Communication . . . . Secrets

Celebration – – – – Broken Trust

Laughter . . . . Tears

“See You Tomorrow”- – – -“See You Later”

God’s Plan . . . . Our Plan

juxtapose

verb jux·ta·pose \ˈjək-stə-ˌpōz\

to place (different things) side by side (as to compare them or contrast them or to create an interesting effect)

I think juxtaposition in our life can be one of the most painful parts of being a human. How can something feel so awesome and awful at the same time? As I was walking home last night after a very full day, both emotionally and physically, God kept bringing me back to the juxtaposition in my life. How could I feel so sad and yet my heart so completely full? How can a crazy and painful decision of moving out of country, instead out of state, seem like something that happened within a matter of seconds? Why do we often hurt those we love the most?

So how do we use our juxtaposition, as painful as it can be? To see God’s grace, to see God’s plan and not our own. To see how much more fully He intends to have our life!! But, I also think that Satin can step in and start juxtaposing in the wrong way. We look at the same situations in a different light and start blaming ourselves and pulling ourselves down because we made the “wrong decision”. We start hearing “Look at all the people you hurt, how could you do something like this?” “How could you do something like this to someone you call you best friend??”. Juxtaposition become a messy scene of all of your failures and missteps and hurt and shreds your life to pieces until your kneeling on the floor next to all of it… not knowing how to even start putting the pieces back together.

Something that God intended us to use for growth and healing, Satin uses for guilt, shame, and pain.

Another juxtaposition in itself.

So sojourner, wherever you are on your journey, know that juxtaposition, as painful as it can be, is used to show you God’s amazing grace and love in your life. God has deemed you as guilty, but Jesus has said He will stand in your place, God sees you as clean and free.

“Let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, with our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water. Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful.”  

Hebrews 10:22-23

Souljourner, walk in peace and confidence this morning. Look at the juxtaposition in your life, cry about the pain and the loss, but celebrate what God is doing in your life!!

IMG_4306
Here’s a happy little penguin to end this post (I went to the zoo with my first-grade kiddoes yesterday)!

 

Hiking.

Our day got off to an exciting start by running around with donuts and boarding late trains. Our hour long treck, which included several train lines, finally got us to Mt. Takao.

Higashikurume - Google Maps.jpg
Fun Fact: I love maps. This typography map shows the area surrounding Tokyo. 富士山 (Mt. Fuji) is in the lower left corner. We went to the mountain that looks non-existent on the map. The red marker is where we started, the white and black dot at the other end is Mt. Takao.
17390803_10154880714085465_4437181522468217682_o.jpg
The selfie stick is a close friend of ours.
IMG_4338.JPG
We were excited to start the day!!
IMG_8062.WM.jpg
Right out of the 駅 (train station) we saw beautiful 桜 (cherry blossoms).

If you’re not a hard-core  mountain climber (though we claim to be… we really aren’t) you start by ascending the mountain by cable car.IMG_8066.Edit_WM.jpg It’s the steepest cable car in all of Japan! The cable car takes you part of the way up. Naturally, we took pictures when we got there…17390642_10154880819130465_3766818605058527714_o.jpg

 

IMG_8067.Edit_WM.jpg
Jamie: “Ahhh yes, a nice picture of the interstate… I guess it’s not called an interstate here…”

We began our hiking… which was walking up a bunch of stairs… but here were some of the cool things we saw along the way to the top.

 

IMG_8071.Edit_WM.jpg
The flat view toward the city.

IMG_8076.Edit_WM.jpg

IMG_7281.JPG

IMG_7283.JPG

IMG_8077.WM.jpgIMG_8082.WM.jpg

IMG_7285.JPG

IMG_8089.WM.jpg

IMG_8090.JPG

IMG_8095.WM.jpg

IMG_8096.WM.jpgIMG_8097.JPG

We made it up to the top and promptly had lunch… during which we told stories and translated them into Japanese. I was crying I was laughing so hard.

IMG_8100.Edit_WM.jpg

We then desperately searched for coffee and realized our coffee destination was back at the bottom. We decided it was time to descend and get our coffee. We got a few view shots before we left.

IMG_7290.JPG

Unfortunately, Fuji was covered 😦

 

 

IMG_8107_WM.jpg
#patagoniamountainlayers

IMG_7289.JPG

IMG_8103.WM.jpg

IMG_8105.WM.jpg

Decent=Shinanagans… it took us twice as long to descend as it should of because of all the FUN we had 😀

IMG_8113.JPG

IMG_4353.JPG

{I can’t upload videos with a free account – click here to see a video 😉 }

IMG_4308.JPG

We ZUMBA on the mountain!!

IMG_8119.WM.jpg

 

IMG_8116.JPG
I found out that you actually CAN swing on vines…

 

IMG_8121.JPG
A very nice man offered to take our picture… the scenery was a little blown out but that’s ok 🙂
IMG_8122 2.Edit_WM.jpg
To the right- steep incline, to the left- steep fall… don’t worry mom it was safe!

To our dismay, we got to a point where we realized we had gotten on the wrong path and would have to take the cable car back down. Before we set off back down, it was time for 団子 and ice cream!!!

17492296_10154881164935465_551067844723467342_o.jpg

IMG_7312.JPG

To COFFEE!!! {599 Cafe}

IMG_8125.WM.jpgIMG_7325.JPG

IMG_7327.JPG

IMG_7330.JPG

IMG_4328.JPG

 

IMG_8127.Edit_WM.jpg
First time having siphon coffee!!

 

IMG_7338.JPG

IMG_8143.WM.jpg

IMG_8140.WM.jpg

IMG_8145.WM.jpg

To relieve our aching muscles we went to the 温泉 (Japanese Bath)!!!

IMG_7340.JPG

IMG_7341.JPG

After onsen we started our journey back home, stopping to get food at a local ramen shop… SO GOOD!!

IMG_4368.JPG

 

IMG_7348.JPG
12 hours and over 15,000 steps each!

 

Though the day was full, so is my heart! We had such a great time and all agreed we need to do it again soon.

 

…just not super soon…

 

 

Provider.

Jehovah-Jireh

I first heard of this name of God as a senior in high school. I was preparing to lead spiritual life retreat with my class and we were focusing on the names of God. At the time I had no idea that this name of the Lord would stay so close to my heart.

Jehovah-Jireh, “God will provide”. Abraham gave this name to God in Genesis 22 after his son had been spared from being killed and a ram had been provided. Throughout the Bible we see God continually providing for his people, it began with Adam and Eve, continued through the Isrialights, and countless other times, ultimately showing us His great provision by sending Jesus.

The day after my last blog post (unfortunately I was sick and had taken a sick day) I found out that they did, indeed, have a full-time contract for me for the ’17-’18 school year. Immediately the name Jehovah-Jireh came to mind. I had just expressed my uncertainty about the coming year, but knowing His plan was best, and then, He provided! His grace and mercy are more than I can ever understand.

Though everything isn’t crystal clear yet, I am dancing with joy for what the Lord has provided! There are multiple things I will have to do over the summer (including renewing my visa and finding an apartment here in Japan), during which I will be back in Michigan!! I’m excited to spend a couple months at home and be able to rest Stateside. There are also lots of little things, like getting appliances, when I return to Japan, which will add up quite a bit in cost. I’m hoping to do at least one open house to share stories and Japanese food with friends and family, while I am home, and share different ways that friends can partner with me throughout the next year.

So, sojourner, whether you are hours, days, months, years away from seeing God’s provision. Know that He is Jehovah-Jireh and He will provide.

Fuzzy.

IMG_4164.JPG

Hi.

How can I adequately describe life right now? Maybe 曖昧 (aimai ~ ambiguous, unclear).

It’s one of those seasons in your life when you regret asking God to teach you about trust 😀 . But His mercies are new every morning and I know He is faithful and just. I know that He’s got it all under control and His plan is much greater than mine. Tonight I was reading a passage in Ephesians which said:

“In Him we have obtained an inheritance, having predesined according to the purpose of Him who works in all things according to the council of His will, so that we who were the first to hope in Christ might be to the praise of His glory. In Him you were also , when you have heard the truth, the gospel of slavation, and believed in Him were sealed with the promise of the Holy Spirit, who is the guarentee of our inheritance until we aquire possession of it to the praise of His glory.”  -Eph. 1:11-14

I read it, wrote it out, and sat back. I’m at one of those places that I feel like my time alone with God has been minimal and I’m unsure of where our relationship is. I’m trying to please fulfill all these different areas in my life and I’m coming out tired and fuzzy of how I’m actually feeling and doing. I’ve put the most important relationship in my life off to the side. I’ve passionately pursued my job and my friends and then at the end of the day I wonder why I’m worn down and listless… then I think of spending time with Him and I just use the useless excuse of “I’m too tired to actually focus”. This verse gave me peace, no matter where I’m at with God, the Holy Spirit continually checks in with me and gives me those thoughts that encourage me to drink from the Well. Though there is some reprioritising I need to do, I also know I’m in His grip and His grace is much more overwhelming than I will ever truly understand.

Please pray for me in this time of 曖昧. I don’t know what God is going to provide for me next school year, I don’t even know what He is going to provide for me tomorrow, but, I know I am in His grip.

Remember, sojourner, that wherever He has you in the world or wherever He may be moving you, it will be much more than you could ever imagine and He will fill you up more than you could ever know. That is the beauty of His grace and His faithfulness.

Image may contain: tree, plant, outdoor, nature and water

Season.

Merry Christmas dear friend!!!

The day we celebrate our Savior’s birth is almost here!! Just a few short days!

With Christmas being upon us, I thought I would share some thoughts.

Since my last blog post…  Life has been pretty great here in Japan!! I really love what I do, my friends, and my church family! I’ve been very involved both at school and at church, really getting into community life here. It’s a huge blessing and often I am thanking God for the amazing experience He is giving me!!

Christmas Break… I’m really missing my family… A LOT. This is the first Christmas I’ve spent apart from my parents… and It’s more difficult than I expected. I’ve never been a homesick type person, but this time that I’ve been away, I’ve been adjusting to how much I miss my parents back home [baby child qualities coming out right here 😉 ]. I think reality really set in when most of my co-workers and friends left the country for Christmas break. I am so so so so so thankful that two of my besties {including my housemate} remain here in Japan during this time.

This has kinda set the tone for my break… especially when I’m home alone during the day. I have to try to keep myself constantly busy, but then that gets difficult too because sometimes I just don’t feel like doing any of the things that are in front of me. I have done some SUPER exciting and fun things though, LIKE GOING TO DISNEY AGAIN!!!!!!!

Anyway, while reflecting on my day today, I just felt overall sad… sad about not being with family, sad about conflict in our world, sad about those who are spending Christmas in the hospital battling a chronic illness, sad for those who are missing loved ones that have passed, sad, sad, sad. But then I had a thought

this is exactly what Christmas is about

/Long lay the world in sin and error pinning/ till He appeared and the soul felt it’s worth./

During this time of Advent, the days leading up the Christmas, we are waiting for our Savior to bring us out of this darkness. There will be a day with no more sickness, no more pain, no more sadness. We will be reunited with those who believed in Him. And what joy to know that HE HAS overcome the world!! He died, was buried, and rose again on the third day!! He is coming back for us!!

What does that mean for the sadness and the darkness we are experiencing now, sojourner? It means that we bask in the light of God marvelous grace, remember who we belong to, cuddle up in His arms and breath. We know He has tomorrow, and the next day, and the next week, month, year, our life, planned out for us. This won’t immediately make us un-sad. This is a journey He has us on. He is slowly molding us into what He wants us to be, but, sojourner, you must be open to what He is calling you to. Let him work, even if it means feeling sad, defeated, angry, alone, happy, joyful, He can fulfill you today if you let Him.

The video below, besides being one of my favorite songs, totally took my breath away. May it be an encouragement to you as it has been to me.

Shattered Alabaster

I’ve tried to write at least three blog posts since I’ve been in Japan. I know I need to update my supporters at home, yet words cannot seem to flow correctly the last few times I’ve tried. However, this morning seems a little more promising 🙂

This morning I took the local train from Higashi-kurume [where I’m living] to Ikebukuro [where my church is]. Now, usually, I can get there in about 25 minutes if I take the rapid or semi-express. Today it took me about 50 minutes on the local train. At first, I debated switching trains, but then I realized I needed something slower paced and dependable. I needed something to give me time to think.

Unfortunately, the last couple days have been pretty bad. My future thinking brain has put me in a worried haze and, on top of all my transitioning, my phone died [like no turning back kind of dead]. Of course, this happened right after I’ve gotten my phone set up for here and really felt freedom in having a working phone. ANYWAY, on the train, as my brain was so full of different thoughts, I remembered such a small truth, be thankful. When everything seems to be going wrong, be thankful. I took a deep breath and started thinking of all the things I’m thankful for, then one of my favorite songs came on… take a second and stop all that you’re doing and really listen to the words of this song.

“Every piece of who I am, laid before your Majesty.”

 

“Oh the gravity of You, draws my soul onto its knees. I will never be the same, I am lost and found in You

 

“I will bow my life, at Your feet, at Your feet. My lips so lost for words, will kiss Your feet, kiss Your feet.”

“Lord, You’re beautiful, so beautiful.”

I always feel so humbled when I watch this particular music video because you see how God is working through each person. How each person is taking something from the song and giving it life.

The second quote above, it always brings me back down to earth and gives me a feeling of being centered again. I am lost and found in Him, no matter what is going on in my life [dead phone, uncertainty of the future, anxiety about my first year of teaching, feeling like I’m always on the verge of tears, transitioning, culture shock], He’s got it. I don’t need to worry about it.

So, I would like to share with you what God brought to mind when I thought of things I’m thankful for right now.

My Thankful List

  1. God allowed me to fulfill a lifelong dream of teaching in Japan AND He let me do it my first year of teaching!
  2. I have amazing parents who have fully supported me every step of my journey. I find it hard to express, in words, how much they mean to me and how much their support means to me.
  3. I have amazing family and friends who have offered guidance, support, love, care, listening ears, texts at just the right time, and balance in my life.
  4. I have an amazing support team here in Japan, friends who have selflessly given time to welcome me back to Japan and to help me find my bearings again here. There are some very pivotal people that I couldn’t have survived this weekend without.
  5. An amazing church here that I feel completely comfortable at, one that has welcomed me back with open arms and is excited to walk with me while I’m here.
  6. The school has gone above and beyond to make me feel welcomed and to make sure I am completely settled here before I start teaching.
  7. A house. A bike. A computer. Music. The ability to cook. A housemate that makes me laugh and brings me joy at just the right time. >Little things I’m not thankful for enough.
  8. Laughter.
  9. Adventures in the rain.
  10. Coffee.
  11. Prayer and direct communication with Him. Laying down every. little. thing. Practicing patience and being joyful always.

The list could continue for days. But, this is what I’m really thankful for right now.

Thank you for taking time to read this. Thank you for supporting me. Thank you for being there. I cannot fully tell you what it means to me.

So, Souljournor, when life continues to get you down, and Satin is doing everything in his power to make you miserable, take time to be thankful… even though it’s extremely difficult. Our Father is with us always, let us not forget that!

Let us “celebrate in the downpour”.

 

Living Under the Bridge of Transition

There are a lot of crazy things going on in my life right now. As of today, there are 12 days until I depart for Japan. In those 12 days I will travel to Georgia to see family, travel back to Michigan, move to our new house, unpack, repack, continue saying goodbye to friends, and spend time with family, as well as say goodbye to them. Sometimes when I actually think about everything I just feel panic. I’ve really been living in panic all summer. We’ve been ready to move to our new house since I returned from college… almost three months… living in a stripped down and boxed up version of my childhood home. I’ve been living in the chaos stage of transition for over a year (move out of my Grace apartment to friends house [three weeks], move to our house in WL [one month], roadddddtrippp, Scotland/London summer 2015 [~ 2 months], move back to IN, start final year at Grace ~ methods block for teaching, start student teaching, leave for Japan – student teach & transition back to Japan, Japan for two months, struggle to find a job ~ Skype interviews at 10pm and 5am ~ HUNDREDS of applications, move back to IN for a week – receive a job in Japan – move back to MI, wait to move to our new house for three months as well as work two jobs and see friends).

There are times that I just don’t even know how to express myself properly. Constant questions of how I’m feeling about moving to Japan and about my first teaching job… I feel like I can’t truly express my excitement. It’s become a sigh and a smile, I feel like people think I’m faking my excitement. Living under this transition bridge has dried me up emotionally and I’ve said so many “see-you-laters” and cried so many tears that the only think that keeps me going is God’s amazing grace, mercy, and teaching from Sunday services. One of the only things that has kept me sane is CrossFit and focusing on my health (who thought THAT would be the case 😏).

However, these feelings have also drove me to intense self-doubt and feeling like I’m not good enough at anything I do. There are also other feelings… but how do I express them to you? I can’t, I truly can’t put into words the tsunami of emotion that is inside me. A tsunami where waves of emotion pound everyday, out of nowhere I’ll be in tears. I know relationships have suffered, I know my work has suffered, I know my body has suffered. And really, none of it could be avoided.Now, I know this post sounds like a huge pity party and that life stinks, but honestly, I feel there have been more raw moments with my friends this year, more joy, more exploration, more life-giving interactions then I would have ever imagined. I was able to live something that’s been a dream for so long. I have had kiddos that have taught me to love unconditionally and teacher mentors that poured in hours of their time to help me graduate. I’ve had coaches who have pushed me to train harder and push myself to do what I thought I could never do. I saw the beginning of some of my best friends marriage! I have had friends and family encourage and support me more then ever. I just needed a post like this to let you know how deep my emotions really go… it’s something that I can’t express in a conversation with you; and to also remind myself of what an incredible year of growth and opportunity and joy the Lord gave me.

For those of you who have listened to me, supported me, prayed for me, thought about me, encouraged me, your words, thoughts, and prayers, have sustained a weary soul. I’m sorry if I ever neglected or hurt you during this time, there is no way I could ever repay you. Thank you for your forgiveness and friendship. I love you all and cannot express my deep gratitude.

So, even if you’re living under the bridge of transition, sojourner, keep your head up, the Lord will continue to guide you up and across that bridge.