Friday, April 29, 2011

A new heart.

I came to Ireland to see God.  I remember talking with Him one night and saying, "Lord, more than anything else, I want to go to Ireland to see You."  I needed to see Him in a new way, to love Him again, and to trust Him again.  What I have found through my almost 8 weeks here so far is that He has been the gentle Shepherd guiding me to quiet waters.  I realized in week 3 that I didn't believe that God wanted rest for me.  Sure, there are times we are supposed to fight and to use our energy to seek God.  But through all that, God was telling me that He also wanted me to rest in Him.  I was talking to our speaker during the third week of lectures, an incredible man who looks like a surfer and finds himself in Iranian prisons, living in Afghanistan, on staff at YWAM Hawaii (which I like to refer to as "Ha-YWAM").  He was teaching on understanding the will of God.  God really hit all the nails on the head with topics that have been difficult for me.  Dan, the speaker, kept emphasizing that finding out the will of God for something specific in my life doesn't need to be something that causes stress or fear, and he helped us learn to relax about all of it.  While speaking to him, I told him of my concerns about making the decision to come to N. Ireland and not being sure if God had led me to do it, or if I did it of my own rebellious accord.  He asked me what I thought God thought, asked me if I was enjoying it, and then said to think of this time as a safety net.   I am committed to being here these 5 months and to use it to rest in God.  Something in me switched that week.  I had come to a point in my battle with fears and anxieties that I thought something needed to break, and God tangibly started turning things around in my heart one night.  No matter what decisions I make, He loves me and desires to show His love to me.   

Also through this time, I have looked back on the last two years, and now see it as God leading me through the desert.  I think in Ireland, He is seeing the perseverance that I've had and is now leading me out of the desert, to an oasis.  He is helping me to trust Him and I realize that He has never left me, even when I felt so hopeless and tormented by anxiety.  I know that He set a seal on me when I first believed-- "When you believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit,  who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God’s possession—to the praise of his glory." (Eph 1:13b-14).  He is also restoring to me the joy of salvation, helping me once again believe that I am a chosen daughter, and I have a right to His inheritance and that I will be with Him in heaven--"Restore to me the joy of your salvation" (Psalm 51:12a).  I also know that if God started something in me, He would never abandon it.  That is not His character, especially since I have been seeking Him.  We learned, also through Dan, that God is more committed to fulfilling His will in me than I am-- ". . .being confident of this, that He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus." (Phil 1:6).  Through the help of the Holy Spirit, even when I feel none of Him, He has helped me to set my face as flint, fixing my eyes on Jesus, not wavering and compromising my faith in Him-- "Because the Sovereign LORD helps me,  I will not be disgraced.  Therefore have I set my face like flint,  and I know I will not be put to shame." (Isaiah 50:7)

I know that time has helped me see what God is truly doing, that only He could have changed my perspective and how He is gracious to give me the eyes to see it.

Having some quiet time and working on my book for the next book report.

A walk along the Fairy Glen.

My small group having a girls' chocolate fountain night, while talking about weddings and babies all night, lol.  Lisa so graciously let us have it at their flat.
Easter feast!  Roast chicken, cooked snap peas, and sweet potato fries (or chips, as they say it here).  
Easter service at Hillsong Church in Newry.  5 people from the London church flew in to help!


Sunday, April 10, 2011

Just Pictures!

 The shipyard in Belfast from which the Titanic departed.  They claim there was nothing wrong with her when she left.  Also, a running Catholic/Protestant joke is that while the Protestants were designing the ship, the Catholics were designing the iceberg.

  Some pretty stained glass in the Queen's University Botanic Gardens, Belfast.

 The local protestant church in Rostrevor, The Church of Ireland.

  A neat fair trade gift shop, particularly jewelry here. 

  City Hall in Belfast.

    Lots of us at the coffee shop at City Church, Belfast.

 Loyalist murals painted in Belfast.  The term Loyalist means loyal to the British throne, therefore      protestant.

The Ross Monument in Rostrevor, commemorating a victory in the U.S. where the General Ross burned down the white house during the American Revolution.  Into to forgiveness and reconciliation for me!