A New Day

by - May 06, 2014

"What day is it?"  I find myself asking that a lot lately.  As soon as the plane lifts off from DFW I start working in hour increments instead of days.  When I leave here its usually already tomorrow wherever I'm going.  The name of the day really doesn't matter anymore.  The countries I visit operate on military time, so the most important thing is that I just know what time it is, not what day it is. By the next 6am to roll around I need to be up and around.  If I focus too much on the day I start to realize I've had a whole night of sleep lost and should be tired, instead of focusing on the fact that the Lord will give me strength and rest as I need it.  Focus on the time, not the day, and I get out of my own skin/schedule a little more and into the moments I'm living - hour by hour. 

I've been home now since yesterday, and up this morning since 3:30.  That's an hour I see a lot of when I first get back from overseas.  Last night I had a goal of staying awake until 8:30, but I don't remember seeing 8:00.  But, I wouldn't change an hour if I could.  This is a good exhaustion.

One day last week I flew to Frankfurt.  After a six hour layover in the airport, I boarded a plane for a 3 hour flight to Istanbul.  I had to get my luggage (two very heavy suitcases of books), go back through customs, security and to my plane.  I got overwhelmed.  Don't be shocked. It was a heavy load, but I stopped and remembered those who were praying for me, and that the Lord himself was with me and helping me.  We got through all the long lines, my heart returned to a normal pace and I boarded the red-eye to Tbilisi, Georgia with our ministry partner and a group of women that within a few days would be my friends.

The conference was unique and a first for these church ladies who came together.  Four languages were translated for each word that was spoken.  Turkish to Russian to Azerbaijani to English (usually whispered to me by one of my friends). I'm honestly a little embarrassed I only speak one language.  I mean I'm fluent in Spanish (don't say anything Sarah Casas), but I wish I really knew another language. The overall theme for the conference was preparing the Bride of Christ, (a term in scripture that refers to the Church), to be ready for Him to come again.  Ultimately, this means help the Church go beyond just belief in Christ to being transformed by Christ.  Believing the Word of God, applying it to our lives and having our lives be changed...in this life; not just in the one to come.    That message goes right along with the focus of the ministry I work for...that by "the renewing of our minds, our lives are transformed."  (Romans 12:2)

I had the honor of teaching from the book Seeing Yourself Through God's Eyes to this group of women.  These books in those two heavy suitcases were translated into Russian and made available to these ladies through the donations that come into our ministry.  The concept is that we see ourselves through so many different sets of eyes:  parents, peers, those who reject us, those who exalt us, those who hurt us, those who love us.  Our view of ourselves can be distorted when we believe what others may think of us.  We need to see ourselves as God sees us so that we live our lives according to the one who created us, not those who would either destroy us or overinflate us.  Because our beliefs, lead to our actions, and our actions lead to consequences.  We need to believe the right things, to have right actions, and right consequences according to God's will for our lives.  Make sense?  I have spent a lot of my life viewing myself as I believed other's viewed me.  For me, that led to a weird mix of insecurity and entitlement.  This isn't the blog to go into all that, but let me just say...having a different view, one based on who God says I am, has changed my life.  I'm able to go where I never thought I could go.  I am able to rest in circumstances where I had never found rest.  I am able to take steps not according to my insecurities, but according to His goodness.  It has simply meant freedom for me, even though I have to intentionally think about it sometimes to get there. 

Here is one particular way God worked in this trip.  After a time when I shared, a young woman came up to me with a very bright eyed look on her face.  She is from the Ukraine and works as a missionary in Georgia.  She graduated with a counseling degree 2 weeks ago and along with her Director they have been given permission to open a counseling school next year in Georgia.  She has been praying about resources for how to incorporate biblical teaching into their counseling.  I left her with June Hunt's Counseling Through Your Bible Handbook, translated into Russian, as well as Seeing Yourself Through God's Eyes translated into Russian.  She said she knows this is the direct answer to their prayers.  You guys, that's how God does this.  When we pray, He answers. Many times He allows us to be a part of His answers which grows our courage and faith to totally believe Him.  If in only 4 days of being in Georgia I was able to so thoroughly love these Turkish, Georgian, Russian and Azerbaijani women can you imagine how much He loves them?  How much He loves their acts of faith and service in His name?  How much he wants to comfort them in their sorrows when they cry?  How much He wants them to see themselves through His eyes?  I love so much being a part of this ministry.

I'm so thankful for the sweet women God used to answer my prayers while there.  Prayers of fellowship and to hear from Him in my life.  Both happened, and I was blessed beyond measure.  Thank you Zulal, Mary, Isik, Katia and Aygun.

The conference began with an Azerbaijani dance representing Christ and His Bride. 

Every word spoken was translated into 3 additional languages.  Spoken in Turkish, translated into Russian, Azerbaijani and whispered into English by my friends sitting  next to me. 

The words to the worship songs were projected onto the wall.  The middle language is Turkish and is spoken a lot like it looks.  So I sang in Turkish.  I'm sure it sounded right. 

Seeing Yourself Through God's Eyes in Russian.  The Lord moved a few mountains in order to make this book available this week.  

Gifts I received from an Azerbaijani friend. 

The ladies who prepared 3 meals a day for this conference.  This picture is one of my favorites, ever.  They were very sweet ladies. 

Me, Zulal, Katia, Isik and Mary. 

Street singers, singing "Hey Jude."

I love taking pictures of ordinary street scenes.  This is one.  

Spices at the market we walked by getting through the metro station to the church.

Trinity Church in Tbilisi. After the end of the conference they took us to visit a few sites.

Here are some of us.

Trinity Church Priests.  

Several Weddings were happening while we were there. 

A view from the old city center of Tbilisi.

The highway that leads to the airport is named George W. Bush Highway.  That felt kind of good on the morning we were heading to the airport.  There was a big picture of him at the entrance.  I don't care what my Granny Toots said, I like him.  

I flew with our group back to Istanbul, and then on by myself to Frankfurt.  My flight didn't leave until the next morning so I rode the train into the city center of Frankfurt to look around.  I was really tired, but I'm going to soak in every blessing the Lord has to give me.  Four hours to look around Frankfurt, have a German dinner, and then a little coffee and people watching...that is a blessing to me.  I'm pretty easily pleased, and would enjoy doing that anywhere...but I definitely don't take it for granted that God is allowing me to see some things that are so far beyond my thoughts to even ask...which as I'm typing this reminds me of my "ministry verse" that I first stated as my reason going into counseling when I began at Southwestern.  I used this verse in my paper when I interviewed to be accepted into the program.  I thought God would use me to help give this verse to others....but, I am realizing...He is doing this in me. He is sinking His love from my head to my heart.  He is interceding for me...that I will be rooted and grounded, and filled with His fullness.  He is doing far more than I even know to ask.  Whatever day it is, its a new day for me.  That is who He is.  Believe and see.  

"For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth derives its name, that He would grant you, according to the riches of his glory, to be strengthened with power through His Spirit in the inner man, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; and that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ which surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled up to all the fullness of God.  Now to Him who is able to do far more abundantly beyond all that we ask or think according to the power that works within us, to Him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations forever and ever. Amen."  Ephesians 3:14-21

Street Scenes from Frankfurt:

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