Bittersweet Change 2

At the beginning of 2017, I created a reading list consisting of 18 books I wanted to read throughout the year. So far I have added 4 books to that list making it 22 total. I’ve read about 9 of them.

One of the books I added is called Every Bitter Thing is Sweet by Sara Hagerty. I came across this book in one of the Devotionals Daily I receive in my inbox. The minute I read this book, I fell in love with it. This book has brought about change in my perspective on how I view circumstances past, present and I hope how I will view them in the future.

The book is based on the verse found in Proverbs 27:7, “A satisfied soul loathes the honeycomb, but to a hungry soul every bitter thing is sweet.” I have read this verse before but goodness I have never read it like that. To a hungry soul every bitter thing is sweet. Every bitter thing is sweet. Wow.

Throughout the book she highlights with complete transparency how every thing she encounters in life that is bitter to her offers her a chance to grow closer to God. If we are in constant hunger for the things of God; If we are constantly hungering for his presence, his touch than every bitter thing we encounter is a chance for us to experience God in a new way. Whether that bitterness comes from the loss of a family member, a job, a bad review, loss of possession, etc. Every bitter thing is sweet.

One of the devotionals I read this summer highlighted the story of Paul & Silas found in Acts 16: 16-40. The Spirit of God had led them to Philippi to preach the gospel, where after just two interactions with the locals, they were accused of damaging property then were mobbed, beaten, and thrown into jail. As they were filled with pain and confusion, they began to sing in the jail cell:

25 About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the prisoners were listening to them, 26 and suddenly there was a great earthquake, so that the foundations of the prison were shaken. And immediately all the doors were opened, and everyone’s bonds were unfastened. 27 When the jailer woke and saw that the prison doors were open, he drew his sword and was about to kill himself, supposing that the prisoners had escaped.28 But Paul cried with a loud voice, “Do not harm yourself, for we are all here.” 29 And the jailer called for lights and rushed in, and trembling with fear he fell down before Paul and Silas. 30 Then he brought them out and said, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?” 31 And they said, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved, you and your household.”

What stuck out to me in this passage is how Paul and Silas were in PRISON but they were still singing and praising God. Paul knew and understood what I am just learning: everything we go through is a chance for us to grow closer to God.

For the past 8 summers, I have had the privilege of walking and serving alongside God’s children in Belize. I’ve walked into places I never imagined my feet would go. I’ve seen things I never in my life thought I would witness. Souls have been saved, wounds have been healed, eyes have literally been opened. It has been the sweetest time in my life and an unbelievably humbling experience.

Now, God is calling me out. He is calling me into a time of Bittersweet. Although I will still be working alongside my brothers and sisters in Praying Pelican, I won’t be in my second home. I may still visit on occasion but my time in Belize is coming to an end. This change comes with many tears shed (I can’t believe my eyes haven’t run out yet!) and many questions currently unanswered. This change feels bitter to me. But I am excited for the sweetness to come. God has something for me and for Nate. I don’t know what it is and I don’t know when I will find out. But as it says in Psalm 27: 13-14,

I remain confident of this: I will see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living. Wait for the Lord;
be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord.” 

God is good. He is faithful.

As my family and friends, right now I am asking for your prayers. Pray for a smooth transition for me. Pray for my heart that is currently breaking and may be broken for awhile. Pray for Nate and I as we seek God’s heart not knowing fully what’s ahead. We are hungry for God and anticipating his sweetness.

With Love,

Still Following: I’m a regular Southern Belle.

I’ve always had a feeling that I would like the South. Don’t get me wrong, there is nothing like a Pennsylvania Summer or the beauty that comes in the Fall with the changing of the leaves, but I’ve always wanted to see what it was like to live in the South. 6 months and 11 days ago, I decided to give it a shot. I’m not really sure what it takes to qualify as a Southern Belle but I live south of the Mason- Dixon so I’m gonna claim that I’m a Southern Belle til the cows come home.

I came to North Carolina in August knowing only 7 people and with meeting my roommate only for a brief couple hours in May. And it has been quite a whirlwind of an adventure. I didn’t even know all the steps you needed to take in order to move .Sidenote:  there’s a lot…like A LOT!  Nobody told me there would be so many papers to fill out or that a 3 hour visit to the DMV would be my first introduction to North Carolina. People kept telling me about this place called Harris Teeter and I didn’t know that was a grocery store or that Lowe’s wasn’t only a place to buy construction materials and plants but apparently also a grocery store. I didn’t know a lot about moving or what to experience but I did know that God had a plan and he had opened this door for me so I was going to walk through.

Throughout my 6 month journey there have been a lot of ups and an equal amount of downs. I’ve gone through moments of intense homesickness (which I’m sure is expected after having the same zipcode for all of your 25 years) and moments of intense happiness. I’ve been lonely, scared, unsure, happy, excited and blown away by the goodness of God. God knew exactly what I would need to survive this transition and I am oh so grateful. He gave me an amazing co-worker who was actually working in the same room as I was for the first time in my life, he gave me an amazing church family that I can’t imagine not having in my life and a wonderfully supportive Gentleman who not only spoils me with beautiful words but has joined me in my obsession with Caramel Macchiato from Starbucks. Sidenote: I’m gonna take a minute to brag. My Gentleman’s name is Nate. I met him last year after I had already decided to move to NC. Well, he lives in NC. I consider him God’s way of giving me a reward for being brave enough to step through the doors he opens. Probably the best prize I’ve ever gotten in my entire life.

Moving on, one of the main things that this time in the South has taught me is that God doesn’t/isn’t going to leave you or lose track of you just because you change zip code. I can’t even count on one hand all the ways that God has shown up to me while I have been in North Carolina. From hearing my favorite song played in church or on the radio when I ask him for just a sign that he is with me or when a random shop keeper gives me a stone carving that has Jeremiah 29:11 on it and tells me that God is with me. God has stretched me and challenged me. He has allowed me to become a part of an amazing church where they have brought me on in leadership in ways that I sometimes don’t feel qualified to be in but their encouragement and willingness to bring me in has been a blessing. I believe God is using these experiences to shape me into the person He wants me to be and I am so excited to see where this path leads. Thank you for your support and prayers whether it has been for my work with Praying Pelican Missions or those who have been with me every step of my journey to become a resident of the South. I’m still here and still following the One who knows all and loves all. I encourage you to join me.