August 26, 2016

Welcome To The Process

I have absolutely no idea how to introduce this so I'm just going to dive right in. 
Growing up in the church environment that I did, the phrase "wholehearted devotion" often came up in conversation. And if I'm being honest, I thought that was complete and utter bogus crap. Being whole hearted for the Lord seemed like this totally unachievable thing. Maybe for the apostles in the scriptures (which by the way, Peter says we have obtained a faith equal standing with their's by the righteousness of our God and Savior-2 Peter 1:1 so yeah just a side note.) or that crazy radical that came to share at church one Sunday. I had believed a lie that devotion, to this crazy level was just "too hard" and didn't really matter. If I did just enough, and presented myself as a zealous lover of Christ (to a certain extent), or talked about Him in enough coffee dates throughout the week, or listened to enough teaching/messages/sermons about the scriptures (instead of going into the scriptures myself) that that was enough. I mean, that's what everyone else looked like they were doing so I must be doing something right? I looked like a Christian, talked like a Christian, smelled like a Christian, dressed like a Christian (you know the classic hipster Jesus follower attire I speak of I'm sure), but never had any desire to go further than that. Now I had my share of "Summer Camp Highs" (don't worry mom, there were no drugs involved). You know those 3 weeks during and then shortly after conferences or camps that leave you feeling firery and stirred up for Jesus? I would leave things like that ready to take on the world, the bible, and my relationship with the Lord unlike I ever had in the past. But, like a lot of us, after a few weeks I would slump right back into my usual routine. Not like I made super crappy choices or anything you guys, I just lived comfortably in my lukewarmness. I was content with where I was, and thinking about it now, that's probably the most dangerous place to be. 


Fast forward some time...I end up on this island. Week 7 of my DTS. I have befriended some of the most firery, hungry, focused, driven people I have ever known and something is changing in my heart. This hunger to be "all in" has just increased and continues to increase daily. I wrote earlier about having to let go of several things in efforts to focus completely on the Lord and trusting Him with everything, yeah well this is part of that too. 
Obviously this is a process but it's a process I'm anxious to begin; having my eyes ever fixed on His commandments, turning my eyes from worthless things, worldly things, fleshly desires, pointless distractions. My heart aches for this. I want this so desperately and I chose to share with you because I want to encourage you to do the same. Psalm 119 is full of practicals on how to whole heartedly pursue the Lord and describes the beauty that comes from abiding by the law of the Lord. I want to invite you into this process. Wholehearted devotion can't be shoved in the microwave and be expected to come out strong rooted and grounded and sturdy. Like I said this takes time; choosing to dive into the word and conversation with Jesus daily. And along with that, laying down pointless, worthless, distractions that keep you from that drive and focus. 
So that's me. Where I'm at right now. It's kinda messy and hard to explain but I'm tired of wasting time. He's so worth it. He's so good, and he has so much in store for those that love Him and seek His commandments. Those who meditate on His scriptures day and night, those who keep the law of the Lord on their tongues. Ok ok, you get it. 
(Here's another picture of Hannah)
Friends that pray together stay together. 
Yeah it's a real Praying Mantis that had originally landed in my hair and then became buddies with my roommate and I snapped a pic. 






  

August 20, 2016

Touching Base (Four Weeks Till South Africa)

Okay, let's play a game of Catch Up real fast. Week 5 is kind of a blur. I celebrated my eighteenth birthday which I can honestly say, was such a beautiful day. I had a bunch of concerns about it; I was worried I wouldn't be celebrated or just disappointed but I was so so wrong. Though it was hard being away from friends and family, my new "framily" here made me feel so special and so incredibly loved. 


The day included my roommates decorating our common space with streamers and balloons along with ice cream cake in our classroom and Jesus talks over sushi. The weekend then included a spontaneous night trip up to Mauna Kea (a dormant volcano here on big island) followed by late night breakfast at Denny's. 


Moving onto this week, week 6. This week the topic was IDENTITY. Woo! We all know that this can be a real heavy topic and it was for all of us as well. I found it really funny that leading up to this week and during the week as well, several of us were battling direct attacks on our identity or issues related to it. I began to realize the power that comes with understanding who you are in Christ and how much the enemy hates that. When you know who you are and who's you are everything changes. It changes the way you see yourself, the way you see others, and the way you see the world. I learned that our identity is not ours to create or earn but it is God's to give. And we don't have to prove the fact we are worthy of what He has given us.


If I had to describe this week in one word  I would describe it as "Refreshing." Outside of lectures the Lord spent a bunch of time just affirming me and the woman of God I am becoming. On Friday we did a little bit of a symbolic exercise. We wrote down labels, lies, and masks we had believed about ourselves on a piece of paper and then literally nailed them to the cross (pictured below) as a sign of letting go. We then washed our hands clean in that first bowl and then anointed ourselves with oil in the second bowl. 


These things are just preparing us even more for our trip coming up. Our plane tickets are purchased. WE'RE GOING TO SOUTH AFRICA! A land where the people have been stripped of their identity and security in Christ Jesus. Once we understand we are loved, we can then go and share that love with the world. Boy am I excited. We leave exactly one month from today. Keep me and our team in your prayers. I am currently still in need of $2515 for my outreach but trust that Jesus will provide. If you feel moved to give, you can give directly through PayPal at asherstable5@gmail.com.
Mega love for you all. Thank you for partnering with me and following my story. 
-Anna 








August 4, 2016

The Crappy, Wonderful, Beautiful Pilgramage


Week 4 has come and gone. I just want to let you know I'm going to be 100% honest and raw in this post. I will not sugar coat or withhold how I am actually doing spiritually and emotionally at this time. It's extremely important to me that I establish that kind of openness in relationships and feel it is fitting to do the same here. I hope that you would see this and that it would resinate with you on a personal level, in all of it's messiness. 
Since before this thing even started Jesus had begun this journey in my heart  teaching me how to "trust" Him. Now growing up a missionary kid, I know all about financial provision, support raising,  and having faith in Him for our needs. So I moved forward without any fear or apprehension as far as with my 
finances.
Within the first few weeks of being here on the island the Lord began doing so many crazy things within my heart, and some of those things I have already begun sharing here on the blog. 
One night last week, I was sitting in the prayer room, seeking His heart for my future and my time here in this season. Just like when Jesus asked Peter three times if he loved him, I heard the Lord ask me three times if I trusted Him. "Anna, do you trust me?"
Like I said before, I had this idea that I fully understood what trusting the Lord looked like but boy is it more than just praying for rent money and rent money coming in. He was asking me to trust Him in every aspect of my life. This included things/areas that I hadn't really let him into like my future. He was asking me to give him my friendships, my relationships, my future, my finances,my life in efforts to follow Him wholeheartedly and (to be completely honest) it really sucked. 
This is no easy thing friends, and I'm not here to say that it is. I was under the impression that I could follow the Lord and have my own "possessions" and agendas apart from Him and still be in alinement with His will. Wrong. In order to be "all in" I had to let go; letting go of things in effort to focus on pursuing the Lord is one of the most difficult yet most rewarding things. 
That leads me to my next point: now that I had let go of pretty much everything important to me, I was left waiting for the Lord to reward me. "Way to go my sweet, obedient, child. I will now reward you with everything you have ever wanted." This is also not always the way it works. We don't follow the Lord because we get things in return, we follow the Lord because He's worth following. Jesus called the disciples by simply saying "come follow me," there wasn't any definitive victory in the horizon when he called them. He simply called them. 
And so, there He was, making me wait patiently. Empty-handed and abandon I like to say. There was peace knowing I was making the right decisions but that still didn't make those decisions easy, or the outcome smooth. And that's what I wanted to convey to you. The Lord has me on this journey of learning how to trust Him with all of it, and sometimes it's insanely difficult and hard. He never said it would be easy but He did promise to be in the midst of it, and I can totally testify to that. It was definitely rocky there for a second but now that the waters have settled I can say there is no better place to be than in the present time in His beautiful presence. 
All of my love
-Awn 



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