Even hidden in the brokenness you can find beauty.
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.