Even hidden in the brokenness you can find beauty.
11 Weeks and Counting….
11 weeks. Unreal. On the one hand, it feels like it’s flying by! On the other…so much has happened, so many new experiences, scary and exhilarating…..If I wasn’t living it, I would find it difficult to believe you could fit so much in just under 3 months.
Well, if you’ve been following all the visa craziness on Facebook, I am officially back in Chiang Mai and legal to be here for 3 months, the duration of the program. The trip to Lao did not go according to our plan, but now on the other end of it, I’ve realized how much I learned during that trip and how clearly God had gone before us, just as we’d prayed for. We were just too caught up in the moment to see it at first. I will say, being rejected at a Thai embassy for a second time was a little disheartening and I spent a good day or two in fear but the 4 days that followed were filled with God’s fingerprints and I will never forget that trip.
This was the plane that started our trip. Most of the men on the plane couldn’t stand up straight, that’s how tiny it was. What an experience!
The french influence in Lao is unmistakeable, especially when it comes to the food and the architecture. It really is beautiful despite the unbearable heat and smog.
This picture is actually quite deceiving…. bicycling in Laotian traffic is a life and death activity. Any adrenaline junkies out there?? haha
We all Skyped into class every morning so we wouldn’t miss out on too much and the most reliable internet we could find was actually in our hotel.
A lot of interesting food opportunities in Laos. Kind of a foodie heaven. Surprisingly, one of the top 3 meals I had was a roadside noodle cart that we enjoyed while sitting on the curb across from the Mekong river.
We also had a chance to visit some great businesses in Lao that run with the Business as Mission model and took some time to talk with different business owners, try different products and sit and talk about our own business plans.
The last two weeks of class has been very interesting. We did a week on Lordship and a week on Spiritual Warfare.
Joshua Naidu challenged us to allow God to reveal some of the lies we are still believing about God, ourselves and others.
The enemy doesn’t normally attack us head on. It’s a bad strategy. That leaves us able to see him coming, prepare ourselves, see what’s going on. Instead… he discretely makes his way into your head, and drops thoughts of discouragement, condemnation, unworthiness… if you haven’t filled up with enough truth, then warning bells won’t go off and you’ll start to believe whatever he sends your way. We spent a lot of time looking at the Belt of Truth, how truth holds your armour together and where John says, “You shall know the truth and the truth shall set you free.”
And Josh challenged us to stop and reflect on where there are still lies deeply rooted in our lives. The easiest way to see them is to allow God to put His finger on fear. What are you scared of, struggling with? If you are still in the dark, you will be frightened and easily susceptible to deceit.
This was really humbling for me. Because I found myself still fearful of the one area I have no reason to be. An area where God has an awesome track record in my life. And it will be a hindrance in opening a business, living in another culture, even being a healthy member of the body of Christ. I realized this week though, that I’ve reached a new threshold. My fear of missing out on what God has planned for me is far greater then the power of the lies I am still holding on to and God is using that. He’s been fueling me with strength to make different decisions. To have a greater faith in Him. And would you believe it? Not only has he come through and proved my faith well justified, but I find myself falling more and more in love with Him. It really puts a physical description to the term “faith walk.”
So, the coolest thing happened last Tuesday that I really want to share with you guys. About 3 weeks ago, I started to ask God, “What is the point?” Not so much with an attitude but wanting a legitimate answer. What is the point of pursuing wisdom and knowledge if that journey will lead to more persecution, more attacks, more heartache… what’s the point? Why would I continue choosing the path I’m on? I mean, I’m pretty sure I would be an awesome “Sunday Morning Christian” (you know the kind of person I mean) I know what the bible says about it and I know what I’m supposed to say. I know all the proper Christian responses to that question. I can recite them well. But I needed God to give me a personal answer to that question. Because I was tired of pursuing deeper wisdom and deeper healing and taking a hit every time I take a right step. So, many of my prayers for 3 weeks revolved around that question, “God, what is the point?” While deep down, praying He would respond with something that would deepen the flame.
Then last week Holger Schein began a telling a story and I could feel the Lord take my chin, lift my head and say, “Pay attention!”.
Holger started talking about perfect vs. mature. He said to look at a rosebud. Is it perfect? Absolutely! Soft and small, closed up, a beautiful deep red. It is exactly what it should be for the stage it is in. But is it mature? Is it finished growing? No. Of course not.
Look at a newborn baby. He can do literally nothing to earn love. He isn’t giving back to society or recycling or making any money. But is he perfect? Absolutely. A father would look at him and see beauty, a precious creation, a little nose, tiny fingernails, a sleepy little yawn….perfection. But is he mature?
The little boy starts to grow up. The father says, “Don’t touch the stove! You will burn your hand.” As the boy responds with obedience, there is a healthy growth happening. If the boy disobeys, he’s disciplined so he can learn. The boy turns 18. He’s built a relationship with his father through obedience and respect and the father knows he can be trusted. He now has much more freedom but along with that he has much more responsibility. The father sees his son as a peer now.
And I knew. That’s what God wanted me to hear. He was asking me, “Do you want to be a part of this? Do you want to be a peer?” Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying I can be a god or that I’ll ever understand the full will of the Lord here on earth. But God was saying, “Do you want to be closer to me? Do you want to hear my heartbeat?” Did I want to be part of His plan, did I want the responsibility and influence He has been preparing to give me? If that’s the case, I have to follow the growth chart, I have to prove trustworthy, learn how to handle the responsibility.
It was such a cool conversation with the Lord that came out of heartache and turned into an incredible mile marker in my life. I’ve found myself really enjoying this stage of my relationship with Christ. To be able to ask questions and know He will answer them. To be constantly on alert for a message or to see His hand somewhere.
The rest of the DTS is moving along quite well. I’ve managed to have a couple mini conversations in Thai which is super exciting! The language is really beautiful both spoken and written. I would love the chance to learn how to read it someday.
The orphanage that we’ve been working at every Friday is incredible. Sometimes I think it really is the highlight of my week. There are 11 kids there and they know when it’s Friday and we’re coming and they’re always waiting at the door for us, ready to attack with hugs and laughter. It makes my heart happy to see them. This is a picture of one of the girls who works there. I’m not sure exactly her story because my thai isn’t complex enough and neither is her english, but we’ve definitely connected and I’ve prayed with her. She really is sweet and I enjoy seeing her interact with the kids. It’s amazing to witness God’s redemptive power in another’s life.
Here’s a pic of my one-on-one leader, Beth. Throughout the DTS we are paired up with a leader and have at least one “one-on-one” meeting a week to talk about anything going on, pray, and just be honest with. It’s actually incredibly helpful. I am so grateful for her!
And this is another pic of her sweet little girl (the youngest of three), who knows how to say my name and whenever she says it, my heart melts a little.
Normally, the girls small group meets in the afternoons twice a week and the men have a breakfast twice a week. I was getting a little jealous hearing about their eggs and bacon and fresh coffee, so I decided to host a girls breakfast! It was a lot of fun. We had a chance to start the day with great company, prayed for each other and enjoyed some great food. (No, I’m not texting in this pic! I’m writing my prayer request down, fyi)
Our first trip in the back of the truck. Have I mentioned how crazy it is driving in Asia? Haha
Just a quick prayer and financial update. The two are joined into one for this newsletter because my biggest and most desperate prayer request is finances. We are leaving for our two months of outreach in 2 weeks. My school fees have to be completely paid by the time we leave for outreach. Which means I need the Lord to provide $3000 by April 18th. Would you join me in prayer? And if the Lord has laid it on your heart to be part of what He is doing here in Chiang Mai and in my life, please contact me through email or facebook.
If you would like more details or have any questions or comments about anything I’ve written, please contact me! I would love to hear from you! Even if it’s because you don’t agree with something I’ve said, I would still love to hear from you and talk about it.
Thank you for all your love and support!
Hello from the sauna-esque heat of Chiang Mai!
Haha, before you roll your eyes and think, “Does she know we are still covered in snow? How can she even mention heat?” Let me paint a picture for you.
You wake up in the middle of the night and reach for the covers because you are frozen. You check the temperature. 20 degrees. You think, I must be dreaming! How can I be frozen at 20 degrees?! You wake up and begin your day. By lunch time, you resemble a sloth, slowly moving through the thick 35 degree heat and blazing sun, as your lungs struggle for oxygen through the haze. By 3pm it’s at least 40 degrees, you look outside and see the treetops moving. You step outside andn realize you’ve been tricked! A breeze in Chiang Mai is nothing like you are used to. It’s more like the hot air that blasts out of a radiator in the middle of winter. Living in a sauna guys. Chiang Mai is like living in a sauna.
But, because of the heat, the beauty of creation is absolutely incredible. I know I’ve only been here a couple months, but I don’t think I’ll ever get used to it. The colours of the flowers are so vibrant and the trees are so lush and green. Watching a sunrise or a sunset, I sometimes find myself holding my breath as I watch our Creator put on another brand new show, never the same twice in a row.
We’ve had great speakers come in the last couple weeks and share some really eye-opening insights. Scotty Meade was able to break down some of the walls we build through our personal worldview. He taught how each one of us has our own personal pair of coloured glasses that we see and interpret everything through (Christian or not) and we need to be aware of our worldview and how that affects our interactions and even our worship, when we are connecting with people cross-culturally.
Craig Shugard, CEO of Ibex International Associates, spent a week with us, speaking on Business as Mission best practices, how to handle profits, 7 forms of Capital and servant-leadership. He also spoke about fear. Fear being a very powerful, dominant feature in every Christians life at some point and something that needs to be dealt with. Fear is the biggest hindrance standing between us and walking into God’s plan for our lives.
Landa Cope came later in February and it took me a full week to even begin processing some of what she taught. She began with the ten commandments and how we interpret them. She explained that the ‘Law’ is not the laws. The ‘Law’ is the value that the Lord intended to relay to the people by giving them the laws. One being an application, the other a value. The laws can be rewritten, the Law can’t, it would destroy humanity. One of the commandments that really shook me when she explained it was, “You shall not use the name of the Lord in vain”. I grew up in a baptist church so I was always taught that God was saying, don’t curse. Don’t use swear words. But that’s not really what this commandment is about. Mind you God does have a lot to say about cursing like that and using culturally offensive words, but this commandment is referring to the way we as Christians, tend to put God’s name on all sorts of things that He had nothing to do with. Modern evangelical Christians use His name substantially more than anyone using it as a curse word. He’s saying to believers, “Don’t put my name on things that have nothing to do with me!” I have friends who seem to almost use it as a justification, or to make sure you can’t disagree with what they’re saying. “Well God told me…” “The Holy Spirit clearly said…” etc etc. But using God’s name is a very very very serious reference. Are you sure your words deserve that? Or are you just rattling and putting a Jesus sticker on it?
Another commandment that hit me harder then I expected…. “Honour your mother and father”. I had always read that and associated that with the mother and father who raised me. It made sense to me. They raised me, I should honour them. But Landa explained that it would also include my biological father. I was dumbfounded. You’ve got to be kidding me? What did he ever do that was honourable? But when I spoke to her after class, she said, “Jodi, even if he is the worst father in the world, even if you’d never met your father and you were the product of a sperm donour, you need to honour him. He did one good thing, if nothing else. He is your source. He made you. You may not be able to honour him for a single other thing, but for that one reason, you can. Because you have vital value. You are the apple of God’s eye. God is the author of life, under any circumstance. He did not author the circumstance, but he did create the life.” I’m still asking the Holy Spirit to show me the steps to walking that one out, but I can tell you, my life has reached a whole new level of freedom in that area.
Her closing thought for the week was, “The most important thing for you to break is your religious mindset. Evangelicals have a tendency to be pharisees and pharisees aren’t very effective in the long term. It’s a lie to believe that if you don’t use ‘Jesus words’, then it’s not spiritual. That would mean that something like math is not spiritual. And yet, math is the equation of the cosmos, the universe God created. It was his first language to us.”
Here’s our class with Miss Landa Cope.
Needless to say, I still have not had time to really process and think through everything she taught!
This week Eivind Froeen is with us, teaching on the Kingdom of God. He has spent some time clarifying the laws, constitution and future of both the Kingdom of Satan and the Kingdom of God, and how you cannot carry dual citizenship. You have to choose one or the other. He gave us his explanation of the 5 pillars. We were created for FELLOWSHIP, to have relationship with each other. A relationship needs to be built on LOVE. To have real love, there has to be FREEDOM and the ability to make a choice. To hinder the misuse of freedom (not take it away), there is the principle of the LAW. But in order for something to be a law, there has to be CONSEQUENCE. Otherwise, you just have a piece of advice. I found it incredibly helpful to talk through the freedom debate that seems to plague my generation and get some concrete answers that I can use the next time I’m faced with it. It’s another one of those questions that I am usually too fearful to even try and discuss because I always get frustrated and find most answers completely unsatisfying.
One way he explained it was this… He said, God created the universe and said, “This is good. I am Lord over all this.“ Then He created the little blue speck, called it Earth and said, “This is good! I am Lord over all this.” He created birds, fish, plants and said, “So good! I am Lord over all this.” But then…. He created humans and said, “This is good! MAY I be your Lord?” And He gave us the power and freedom to say yes or no. And if we say no, He respects us still. He doesn’t force anything. He will never violate our choice or just wipe us from the earth. He may plead with us, pursue us, continue to show us His love, but force never comes into play.
We live in a created reality. We were created in the image of the Creator, so we have the power to create, but only within the reality we already live in. We have the freedom to move around within that reality any way we choose, following the law or not. But the law is there for our protection, to hinder the misuse of our freedom, not remove it. Like the law of gravity. You can choose to respect that law or you can decide to be a rebel and jump off a 15storey building. You had the freedom to make that choice, but the law is still the law and you will be carried away in a body bag.
For two weeks in February our School was joined with the International Business as Mission team. 3 of us on team had the priviledge of cooking and serving them breakfast for the 2 weeks. We really enjoyed it! We tried to make a different meal for each day and were so blessed by the smiles that met us each morning, ready for a good meal and great coffee. Meal number one? Homemade Cinnamon roles!
We live with the Stewart family here in Chiang Mai and they have three absolutely beautiful little girls, the youngest of whom is Breanna. She is a source of constant entertainment. And guess what? She can finally say my name!!! I’m the first! And she says it all the time. I can’t even tell you how satisfying that is. haha
This last weekend we had the chance to visit the famous Chiang Mai Sunday Night walking street market. It’s been happening in the same place at the same time for hundreds of years. And I wouldn’t even know where to begin in explaining what you can find there! But we had a blast and I would highly recommend it for anyone coming to Thailand. This was a pretty cool milestone too… the first time I ordered something in Thai!!
And lastly, Priscilla and I went with our leader, Mark, to do a visa run to Myanmar this past week. It was a blast. 12 hours, 4 coffee stops and a little saunter over a country border and I am legal to be in Thailand another 30 days.
Please feel free to comment or question anything that I’ve written here today or previously, about what is being taught or how things are being done. I’d love to talk with you!
Just before I say goodbye, I’d like to give you guys a specific financial update and ask that you would join me in prayer for the Lord to provide in His way and in His time. I have a visa run to Laos coming up in about 12 days time. It will be a two day trip and will provide me with a three month visa so that I can stay the last three months of the school in Thailand without worrying about visas anymore. The total trip cost will be $300. That includes flight, stay, food and the visa cost. Our 8 week outreach begins in the middle of April. We will be heading to three different locations within Thailand and I will need about $500 for that part of the school. And lastly! There is now only $3000 standing between me having my school fees completely paid off which is very exciting! Please join me in prayer for these needs. And if you feel the Lord is nudging you to be His way of providing the money I need, please contact me in whichever way is easiest for you (facebook, email, text) and I would be happy to chat with you.
Thank you all for your incredible support and prayers in this journey so far, I know how blessed I am to have you behind me, supporting and loving me! I look forward to hearing from you!
Blessings and love from Chiang Mai!
Amazement never ceasing….
Week 3 has just ended and I am still struggling with accepting my current circumstances as reality. As I write I am sitting at a beautiful cafe, just inside the gates of our MuuBahn (little residential area/village). They are known for their “Swiss quality, Thai elegance”. They have an outside sitting area filled with beautiful Parisian style tables on the grass, bright foliage all around and over hanging palm trees that give shelter from the hot sun. The sweet little fountain and Koi pond next to my table provides a serene soundtrack to the thoughts in my head as I process everything the Lord has been revealing to me the last two weeks.
The week before last, we focused on the Nature & Character of God. I went with assumptions on what would be taught and left with my head spinning. Every one of us has questions, things we don’t understand about the Lord…. some of those things are legitimate unknowns. Things that we will never understand until we’re reunited with Christ and those questions just magnify the glory of the Lord. But, there are other things that we don’t understand, not because there is no answer, but because the questions are big and dark and scary and few are willing to trek into the unknown long enough to find the answers. They shake our foundation and for me, when someone breaches those topics, I find myself getting defensive and angry. Not healthy, but I’m just being honest.
That is exactly what happened last Monday with Tom Hallas. He began to speak and I thought, “This guy is awesome! He is incredibly intelligent and has a deep heart for the Lord”…. then he broached a subject I had decided to just avoid. He asked the class, “Did God create evil? It says in the word that everything was created through Christ, and nothing exists that He did not make. So, does that mean God created evil?” And when no one could come up with a concrete answer, he moved on and said we would continue to address it throughout the week.
Now, I have come to really appreciate the way Tom taught that week. He asked hard questions and waited for an answer. He made us think. Even if it took 20 minutes of silence and him pulling answers from each of us… he would wait. He didn’t just take his personal knowledge and shove it down our throats. He was there to help break down walls that were keeping us from understanding the Lord and drawing even closer to Him. He waited for the Lord to speak to us. However…. and that’s a BIG however… it took almost 4 days for me to appreciate that. I went home Monday night infuriated!! I could not believe he did that. Why bring up a question that has no real answer? People have different opinions and the pastors and leaders who I’ve approached looking for answers in that area always say similar things…. “of course God didn’t create evil” or “God makes all evil into good”, etc but that all seems like weeny answers to me. There’s nothing concrete in that, no biblical foundation. So what now? Couldn’t he have left that alone and approached a million other facets of the Lord’s character?
Get the idea? Can you see how frustrated and annoyed and just downright angry I was? I surprised myself really.
But then Wednesday came. And he asked again. I coulda socked him.
And yet, I am grateful for the truth that came and the freedom that it brought.
God did not create evil. But he did create choice.
We can’t understand why there is evil and why the Lord doesn’t just eradicate it completely if He is all powerful, but that is exactly the issue. We see the cornerstone of God as POWER. And that is what we’ve built our foundation on. But in reality, his cornerstone is RELATIONSHIP. That perspective changes everything. He created us with choice because he wanted to be in relationship with us. You can’t have a love based relationship with out giving the other party the freedom to make that choice. With enough power you could force someone to follow you and do your bidding, but you could not ever force someone to love you. But with the freedom to love Him comes the freedom to also walk away. That’s where evil comes in. When we excercise our freedom to step outside of His will, we create a reality that hadn’t existed before. Just like darkness is the absence of light, so evil is the absences of God/love. Darkness isn’t ‘created’, nor is ‘evil’. Evil is not a substance, you can’t measure it. It is a moral condition.
As soon as that concept hit my heart, I became so overwhelmed. I could feel myself fall more in love with the Lord. Like a giddy-school girl with a crush.
I hadn’t realized how deeply the unknown of that question affected me or my relationship with Him.
This is only the beginning of the journey into that reality though, so I welcome any opinions or insight that you guys would like to provide and I would love to talk about it with you if you feel the same or even if you disagree! :)
Another interesting little tidbit of info….. the most significant governing metaphor of the Lord is in Exodus 34:6-7. I hadn’t understood the purpose of metaphors in the bible or really, the difference between minor, major and governing metaphors, so this was an interesting road to go down.
I’d already understood the implication of generational sin (and blessing) but there are different levels of understanding and I really appreciated the clarity….it does say in v7 that the sins of the father will visit down to the third and fourth generations. But it’s not because the Lord is purposefully punishing the following generations because of the sins of their forefathers. Rather, it’s because the consequence of sin is far more severe than we understand. It puts things in motion that can only be stopped by someone standing in the gap and repenting for what was done, breaking the curse in the spiritual realm. (Something that I learned from my time with Ellel, and am so grateful for.) Our choices never, ever, ever, affect just us. Being selfish and making choices with only ourselves in mind is a very naive way of thinking. This is what the Lord is trying to tell us. Your choices are so important, they have the ability to affect your great-great-great grand-kids. That’s why he gives us a blueprint. Just because he doesn’t give detailed explanation… would you explain molecular biology to a two year old? Of course not. Because they have no basis for understanding. But you still give your little toddler rules, don’t touch the stove, don’t run across a busy intersection, etc. They may not be developed enough to understand the “why’s” but to keep them safe, you still need to give direction and expect them to follow.
Well, on a lighter note! My Thai is still…. a struggle, haha, but I am definitely learning. I have a few basic phrases down and made my first order at this coffee shop in Thai!
I’m starting to LOVE spicy food too and almost appreciate my meals less if they are bland. What’s wrong with me?? haha. This is one of my favourite meals so far. It’s called Khaal Soy, and this particular place is a little restaurant with no walls and is set under a couple huge trees. The tables are set up on the dirt and it really is quite the site to see. So many reasons to love it.
This is what our particular muu bahn is called. “Worldclub Land”. Makes me think of Disney World’s more natural looking cousin. Haha
Had a little mini vacation last Monday at some houseboats here in Thailand. The beauty was exquisite. It was peaceful and perfect to reflect, hangout, chat and just be with each other outside of the intensity of the program.
Went up the mountain on Friday before class to see the sunrise and had a chance to see the way some of the local Thai’s live up there. It was an eye opener for sure.
Well, to end things, if you’d like to join me in prayer, there are a couple big things coming up. This Tuesday starts my Visa run to Singapore. I will be leaving after dinner my time (so Tuesday morning for most of you) and returning Saturday afternoon, hopefully with a visa that allows me to stay in Thailand until June. Prayers that things would run smoothly and I would find favour at the Thai embassy in Singapore would be greatly appreciated.
And another important prayer would be for the finances to be released for the rest of this course. I need to pay the remaining fees for the course soon and the funds aren’t quite there. I have faith that the Lord will provide and am trying not to panic, so I would really really appreciate prayers that, not only would the finances be released and come through, but that my heart would be stilled and trust that the Lord truly is my Provider. Just because I have no idea how He could do it, doesn’t mean he can’t, he’s bigger than me and that leaves more room for His glory to shine.
Thank you all for your support through this. I am grateful for the love and influence you have in my life and pray things are going well for each of you.
Looks like I will need to travel to Singapore for a few days in order to get the right visa to be able to stay in Thailand for the remainder of the Business DTS program. My leadership team is doing an amazing job at helping me with everything and giving me every reason to be confident…. however I have to admit I am slightly nervous.
Do I have any reason to be? I mean really, look what the Lord has done already. And yet… I am human and therefore? Slightly apprehensive.
However, I will keep repeating God’s promises over and over, that He is faithful, He is my provider, He has called me here and therefore He will make a way…
In the meantime, would you be willing to join me in prayer? That the process would be relatively smooth, that His favour would go before me and that the finances would come through for all these extra costs.
Here’s to making memories!! :)
I’m HERE!!!! I’m really Here!!!
It’s official! Jodi Marie is on the other side of the world.. enjoying the beauty of Thailand. Words can’t even begin to express how grateful I am for every ounce of support I have been given through prayer, encouragement and finances. Your investment of time and money into what God is doing both in and through my life has touched me deeply and I thank you. I pray the Lord blesses you immensely for it!
Well, I have to say, although I am a true Canadian and love that I was given the privilege of being born in a beautiful and blessed country….I feel that I may fall in love with Thailand. The colours you see everywhere are exquisite and the sounds… I am sitting on our little private side porch and as I type, the breeze is slowly moving through the palm trees, providing background percussion to the birds sweet harmony, as they flit and flutter on the gable rooftops
The country is still moving out of its winter season, so the air is warm but not humid, perfect for our bike ride and tour of the market this morning. The people are very friendly and the meal we had for lunch in the market, although I can’t tell you a single thing I ate, every bite was delicious!
This is my team, minus one girl who will be arriving this evening! I already love them all!
My flights in went so smoothly, thanks to all the prayers and God doing His thing, which I am doubly grateful now, knowing that once I get to the 24 hour mark.. I get a little bit delirious :) But even in the travel, I could see the Lord’s hand and the favour that went before me. For example, with my visa, when I arrived in Bangkok, they said that because I was Canadian I didn’t even need to apply or fill out any kind of forms. They just granted me access. So I passed through immigration easy as pie. Now, within the next 30 days, I will need to apply for a more long term student visa, which means I will need to figure out how to leave the country and where to stay for a couple days to get that type of visa, but I know the Lord has called me here and I know He goes before me. So prayers to make that way clear and simple would be greatly appreciated.
And then prayers for the finances to continue this trip. That the Lord would continue to provide what is needed and that He would touch those he is asking to invest in His work. Also, that the enemy would not even be aware of where the Lord is working in this area so that the plans he tries to put in place would be completely useless. I know the Lord will provide, and I know this is an area I greatly struggle with and he has used it to not only test my faith but to grow it. If nothing else, this trip has so far shown me that. And I will continue each day, as the anxiety starts to swell, declaring that He is my provider, He is my King, and He is my Father. There is nothing I need that He does not already know about and have a desire to provide.
Thank you again for everything you guys have done for me! If you have any questions or want to know more about what I`m doing here or in general, please don`t hesitate to contact me!
It’s a new year.
For a lot of us, that means change.
And by no means am I any different…….. let me tell you what I mean as quickly as I can….
Back in November, I could feel the Lord preparing me. I couldn’t quite put my finger on what it was at the time, but I would constantly find myself watching a “highlight reel” so to speak, of the last 2 years. Seeing everything the Lord has done, the incredible ways He’s shown His hand, the struggles and challenges, new friendships and so much more, seemed to fuel this fire in me. I felt like I was being prepared for battle. It’s hard to explain, but I just knew something big was coming and I knew there would be a fight. But I was still missing something and I could feel it. There were many times I would make Heather sit and listen as I talked through everything going on in my heart and would always end by saying, “But I’m missing something! I know it. I can feel it.”
Over the Christmas holidays, the Lord opened up a window for me. And it changed everything.
I came to learn about a term, “Business as Mission”. Some of you may have heard of it before, but I had not. It’s a term used to describe the integration of business goals and the call to the whole church to take the gospel to the whole world. A mission field in and of itself, where the gospel is outworked in and through the business, through the products, services, relationships and goals.
A profitable business (as opposed to a not-for-profit organization, which is also extremely important, just different), can create new jobs and new innovation, introduce essential services/products into a community, strengthen the local church, model biblical principles and business ethics, and much more.
The Lord has also shown me how a profitable business can actually be another strong tool in the fight against human trafficking. A fight that I have also felt called to, but could never understand how the two fit together.
This was a HUGE eye opener for me, as I can remember as far back as 12 years old, dreaming about things like…. opening a coffee shop, who’s profits would go to sustaining an orphanage or a shelter. But I had never really believed that that’s what a “good christian” would do. I’m not sure what built that belief system in me, but the Lord has so removed it!
Now, I feel like I am that much closer to walking into the destiny He has had planned for me all along, and I am much more able to understand the call on my life.
The Business as Mission resource team is an international ministry of YWAM (youth with a mission), and they have a 6 month Business Discipleship Training School that they run once a year in Chiang Mai, Thailand, where they teach about God, His world and His plans for business through a cross-cultural experience. It includes 12 weeks of lectures, training and language study and then concludes with 10 weeks of service and outreach in the community.
As soon as I stumbled across the school webpage (although I don’t believe it was any kind of coincidence), I could feel this shift. I knew that this was important. But how could it be possible? The school starts so soon, I’d never be able to prepare in time. Still, I applied and figured, what could it hurt? I filled out my application, sent it in, and left it with the Lord.
I could hear God asking, “Jodi, look at how far we’ve come. Do you trust me?” Over and over and over.
Well, looooong story short, I have been accepted to the school, the majority of my insurance is sorted, my vaccinations are finished, my doctor has signed me off for international travel, the Thai Embassy only needs two days to get my visa finished, and a friend has offered to pay for my return flight. I have to say, to have all that done in less than a week… God has to be in it! I can see Him everywhere! It gives me goosebumps.
So, now to where you come in. You have been a huge support to me, in all kinds of ways and I can’t begin to tell you how grateful I am that the Lord orchestrated our relationship. So once again, I ask for your prayers.
There are only about 5 or 6 days left for me to raise the rest of the money I need to get to Thailand, about $8,000. Even just thinking about the number makes me want to roll my eyes, because to me, it’s huge. However the last couple years have taught me to not doubt Him when He’s ready to move.
I plead with you, pray that the Lord’s will be done in this, that if the finances are there, that they would be released. Pray that the enemy wouldn’t even be made aware of what’s going on and therefore unable to prevent the finances from getting to me or trying to stop what the Lord is doing. Pray for wisdom and discernment.
If you are interested in supporting me financially, I am working on having the school fill out the necessary documents for the money donated to qualify as an educational tax receipt through CRA.
If you are interested in continuing to support me through prayer, that also is so needed and I would be ever grateful.
I would be happy to answer any more question or give you more information! Please email or send me a text or call…. whatever is best for you!
If you have 5 minutes and 8 seconds, I challenge you to listen to this and see what it does to your heart.
"When I finally reach the end, I’ll say, You are worth it all…"
When you hear those words…really hear them… there’s a part of you that pines for Him. The part of you that recognizes the truth in those words, that you were created for that very purpose. It fuels a desire to find yourself in that place, where you can look at everything the Lord is asking you to relinquish and say, “Jesus, you are worth it all.” There’s nothing that He is asking you to give up that He can’t return 100 fold. And there is not a single thing the world can offer, that holds the kind of value Jesus can give you.
Oh to one day be able to say, with everything I have, “Jesus, you are worth it all.”
Summer is coming to an end….. can you believe it? Some say it’s over….I’m choosing to live in denial for a little while longer. haha
I know I haven’t sent out an update since the summer began, but I promise there is good reason! We’ve been busy running great programs, watching the Lord move in the most amazing ways and just doing summer life, which seems to move slower but still result in a lot of “busy”.
I have to say, the past couple months was nothing like I expected it to be. There were moments I found really challenging and there were times when I ….. well, I just threw a temper tantrum with the Lord thinking, “Seriously?! How is this fair?!”
But the good faaaaar outweighed the crappy moments. God gave me an abundance of new experiences, some just for fun, and some that were lessons. Really good lessons that I am incredibly grateful for. I got to witness some amazing changes in people’s lives as they stood and made the decision to work through the issues that were causing them pain. I met some incredible new friends and witnessed old friendships get stronger.
I’m looking forward to everything that is coming up with the approaching season, but will be a little sad to see this one go. So to reminisce a little bit, here are some pictures…a little window inside why my smile is so big as I write this letter….
The summer started with Family Camp! We had a house FULL of families and it was a blast! Outdoor Twister, a watermelon war, movies on the lawn, Mission Impossible, great bible stories, family devotions and incredible food…. it was a week of pure joy and no sleep. This is a picture of the infamous cardboard boat races.
During Family Week was my initiation into Wakeboarding….a sport that quickly became a bit of an addiction. There is something about the combination of being out on a boat, the beauty of the lake and pure speed that makes all the wipe-outs and face plants worth it. It was not uncommon for me to come up from a fall laughing as I rubbed whatever part of me had hit the water first. haha!
One of the gifts I was given this summer is a little garden on the property. I can’t even begin to describe how excited I was to grow my own veggies! And when the first little seedling started to pop up….I danced all day I was so happy! I think cucumbers were my favourite this year because they surprised me! One day, all I see are these big ol’ picky leaves and the next day, giant cucumbers! I also really enjoyed sharing what the Lord had blessed me with…. (although mostly so I could say, “I hope you enjoy the Kale and beans from my garden!) haha
One of the lessons I mentioned earlier, came when the Lord proved he could restore anything. Amanda had been one of my best friends through High School in Nova Scotia, but the last couple years, I had pulled away. This past year, I remember thinking over and over that I wish I could get back in contact but how could I send more than a “How are you?” text, when there was so much that needed to be said?How do you explain 3 years of life’s rollercoaster ride in an email? I knew I wasn’t going to make it to Halifax anytime soon and I had finally just decided I would let go when I get a message from Amanda saying she was going to be visiting the area! I was shocked! “Lord,” I thought “what are you doing?” So I drove to meet her a few weeks later. We got caught up on everything that had gone on in both of our lives and I got to meet her son, little Benjamin. I drove away later that afternoon in tears. I couldn’t believe what had happened. The Lord had really done it!
I learned how to make fresh Raspberry Jam, took one of my favourite little girls shopping for her birthday in the “Big City”, swung from an extremely high swing in the woods (and lost my voice from the screaming that involuntarily came outta me) squished all kinds of kittens and even collected chicken eggs for the first time. Let me tell you, that was an experience and a half!!!
I just want to say thank you again, to all of you who pray for me on a daily basis. I am so blessed to have you on my side. I know the prayers keep me going more than anything else. As I walk into this next season, you can be praying for new ideas, courage to face the changes God wants me to make, and that I wouldn’t miss any opportunities or blessings He desires to show me because I am too shy to ask or even just say yes.
The last few months have been quite the roller coaster. There have been some breathtaking moments and great memories made…
life hurdles finally cleared…
but along with the highs came deep pain. Confusion. Sadness.
This last two weeks….breakthrough.
Understanding came and clarity soon followed. I found myself thinking, “Yes! I’ve made it!” Celebrating a lesson learned quicker than my past history of learning.
And then today came the rug, pulled so swiftly I almost didn’t feel it.
And now, I sit here on the floor, wondering…. What did I miss?
The silver lining? There’s no melancholy, no dark hole, no fast fall into a hopeless stupor… because I know.
I know that I know that I know.
He’s still here. And I am loved.
To understand all that I love is merely a mirror pointing me upward, frees me to let those things go. I don’t have to have them. I have to have the One who made them. And the pleasure and reward his presence offers far surpasses any drug or buzz I could get. Crazy huh?
It’s me again!
I hope this email finds you well and enjoying the beginnings of what I hope to be a long and gloriously hot summer. (I’m one of the few fans of scorching heat, haha)
There’s so much to tell you! But I will try to keep it relatively short with lots of pictures!
One of the coolest things the Lord is teaching me about these days is worship. And what the root of worship really is. The journey started one morning during devotions as we read through Revelations. We came to the 4 beings that were created solely to worship God. My instant reaction was anger! Before I could stop myself, I heard myself saying that God was narcissistic and how angry it made me that he just decided to create these beings who’s ONLY purpose was to worship Him. He had another thing coming if he thought I was just gonna sit around all day and tell Him how great He is. At the same time, I had just begun to lead worship here at the centre during events. You can see why my attitude about worship could be a problem.
I had to really sit and pray about why my reaction was so crappy. Why did I feel so yucky thinking that I was created to Worship and that worship was where I would feel most fulfilled? I realized that my reaction was stemming out of past relationships and my own brokenness. So I asked God to break down the lies I believed about worship and teach me what it meant to really worship Him. And boy was He up for the challenge!
Over the next week, every time I walked outside, I was overwhelmed with the beauty of nature. I would just stand in awe, unable to move, watching the wind blow through the trees…listening to the birds sing their pretty songs or the stars sparkle in the velvet sky. That was their worship. Every living thing was created to worship, and this was their offering. When dawn breaks, the birds don’t open their eyes and think, “Oh darn…I gotta sing again?” They just do. And how incredible is their song? How much more blessed are we, that we were created to worship and that we have a choice in the matter? How much sweeter is that?
On the more serious side, He is teaching me that worship is a strategic key for the things we are going to face in the days to come. That there is a power behind worship that we have yet to fully understand. Our focal point, those things that consume our energy? That’s what gets our worship. “That which you worship will manifest itself.” When God says that he will give us the desires of our hearts, he meant it. But what if the desires of your heart don’t line up with his plans? How scary is that?
When you sing on Sunday morning…do you hear what you are saying? There is authority in our words and a danger in speaking a vow and not following through. A vast majority of the songs we sing on Sundays have no mention of Jesus or His atoning sacrifice. So then…who are we worshiping?
God has given me an amazing opportunity in being part of a team that leads worship. Only now, I’m realizing that it comes with a great responsibility. The enemy was a part of worship before he fell. So he is going to attack praise and worship with a sneaky strategy.
This is only the beginning of my journey into Worship, but so far, it’s been pretty exciting!
I am blessed to have a friend who is an incredibly talented photographer. She gave me the opportunity to model in one of her styled shoots and these are a few of the pictures that have come out of it so far.
This is Strawberry! Our neighbours own quite a few horses down the lane but she is my favourite. She’s beautiful! And also very stubborn….kindred spirits? haha
She woke up today.
Made her coffee dark and strong.
And stood at the window, watching the rain, silently falling.
Everything still quiet and grey.
She imagined the world as a mirror. Reflecting her heart.
Letting the hidden take over
She grabbed her leather jacket
And the cigarettes.
They reminded her of the pieces she didn’t want to forget.
The irony not lost.
And wandered into a world
Only half strung in reality.
She could feel the rain
Washing away humanities ignorance
The hope of change
And she breathed it in
As if her very breath was the key.
I miss the skyline…
Running by as the sun comes up. Watching the sun set with brilliant reflections off windows set in beautiful buildings, concrete artwork. Sitting on a bench in the dark, as the stars sparkle above.
I miss the rush of people living busy lives, the passion, the colour. To be allowed anonymity if I so chose. And if not, opportunity for conversation with a stranger is always welcome. From art to politics to the graffiti on the wall as the B-Line flew by.
I love to travel. I love the challenge of creating a life in a new city. I love meeting new people and having my perspective changed. New cultures, new flavours, new ideas… it adds to the beauty of life. Humbles you.
But sometimes? I just really miss that skyline.
So today I will make better choices. Knowing that I am being given the opportunity today, to create the person I hope to be tomorrow.
If by chance I fall, or the weaknesses that pull at me win today’s battle, I gain strength in knowing there is nothing He can not redeem. He will pick me up and tomorrow….I will try again.