LEAPING BACK

Around this time last year, I was posting the announcement for my return to China for the 2016-2017 school year at my little technical college in the Hubei Province.

I titled the post ‘Another LEAP’ because, honestly, that was what it felt like: A giant leap of faith. It was one of those, “yeah I really like it here but I also just wanna go home where I have reliable electricity and insulation.” I had to fight my want for comforts in order to trust that the return was indeed the will of God.

The Spring semester brought me new friendships that became my final encouragement for the “yes” response. They were exactly what I needed in order to be completely confident in that second leap back into this land of everyday adventures, both good and bad. Something told me that the ride wasn’t over….the growth challenge wasn’t complete.

I say growth challenge because that’s exactly what I’d call this chapter of my life. If I told you I wasn’t challenged by many pressures/encroaching insecurities/debilitating anxiety and cultural differences, I’d be dishonest. I miss my family, especially my two precious nephews who are not waiting to age on my behalf (although I wish it could be so). I am in a long-distance relationship that takes every bit of effort that can be given. We are two imperfect humans that really really like each other. And I’ve missed him.

The negatives do seem to outweigh positives some days but that’s just part of the journey. That doesn’t discredit the overall beauty of what this season has been, trust me.

Let me get more into that!

In my previous article, I claimed the hope of completely diving head-first into the next year. I didn’t want a tip-toe lifestyle, avoiding the discomfort of trying new experiences that stretch you and make you get those funny little knots in your stomach. I wanted the knots! I said, “Gimme some of those belly knots, please!” Because I had already grasped the concept of the rewards that come with the challenges. And, boy, have I had many-a-knots in my belly these past ten months! From speaking in front of a thousand young students, completely unprepared, to gripping onto the seat beneath me in a minivan trekking down a narrow, bumpy mountain road, I’ve been provided with many breath-taking moments that will be etched into my memories for the rest of my life. And sandwiched in between all of these moments were opportunities to share the beautiful truth that makes me who I am and how I am. I got to explain what gives me the boldness to overcome my fears and face the unknown. I’ve gotten to explain the Matthew 5:16 tattoo on my right shoulder and have deep conversations about what faith means to me. I’ve gotten to share the message of hope with so many people simply because of the “head-first” attitude that carried me through the times of doubt.

This season also brought something that I didn’t expect: family. We call each other the “foreigners group,” because we are a collective of ESL teachers, from various countries,  that all have the common thread of being strangers to this land. And most days we feel very foreign. It may be our skin color, or our inability to hold a conversation in the local dialect, but we are definitely looked at as an outsider; and rightly so, if we’re honest. But this “outsider” label has united us in a way that is so powerful. We may not have the same first-language, skin color or cultural background, but we have all made the decision to come to China and become better people by it. That means something. And some days we have to wonder what in the world we were thinking as we gather around the dinner table and tell stories of our “crazy week.”

We are each other’s confidante’s, advice-givers, encouragers and security blankets for the days that seem hopeless. To me, they are God-sent. They have awakened in me a new passion for the people in, not only China, but all the world. They remind me of just how alike we all are. That we have this invisible thread weaving through our souls that connects us in ways that are easier to discover when you have open and inviting conversations. When you drop the “my country is better at ____” and actually open your mind to the possibility that your way might not be the only right way, it’s beautiful. It’s a glimpse of heaven.

“the greatest part of family is it’s inseparability by mileage.”

And then there are my sweet, loving China-natives. The people that took me in with open arms and tried their very best to make me feel at home. They led me through wild adventures and made me get out of my little protective shell long enough to truly experience the joys of life.They welcomed me to their homes, offices and lives in general without hesitation.  They showered me with praise that I didn’t deserve, but was all-the-more thankful for. Every day I’ve learned something new and am amazed by all this place has to offer.

China will always feel like home to me, and for that I can only praise God.

He gave me opportunity, the guts to do it, and the gifts that followed.

 

 

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But now is the time to LEAP back to the States. I say leap because it is going to take equal faith to go back home as it did coming back here for the first and second rounds. Now that I’ve finally gotten accustomed to the culture, language and relationships, I am officially LEAVING? I find myself going back to re-check the time of my departure and thinking is it really that soon!?!? And I get weird butterflies (or knots, if you will) in my stomach every time I think about it.

This tells me something: It was worth it. All those times of doubt, vulnerability and blind-trust in God totally led me to the best years of my entire life. I didn’t have to wave a magic wand or buy an expensive beauty product to find happiness. All I had to do was be present to the joys that God wanted to give me.

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For those who have been following my journey: Thank you.

Thank you for your care, support and prayers.

You’ve helped me thrive.

Also, please keep them coming as I re-integrate back into an American lifestyle.

With earnest and relentless prayer, we can change the world.

xo,

The Travelling Aunt

 

Pieces of Me

I’m a mosaic.hiuglygyutgyugvjhk.jpg

Splashes of warm colors on jagged tiles.

People look at me with wonder, unable to comprehend the destruction that occurred before I was placed, piece by piece, in an elaborate display claimed as beautiful.

They paint over my bruises and celebrate my scars.

I’m graffiti on a train car.

Neon symbols across a rusted frame.

Darkness surrounds me but I am what you notice.

The message from the mess.

A cry for change whooshing past you on your drive to work.

I’m a novel.

Smudges of black ink compiled in a dusty cover.

If you start in the middle, you miss my history.

My beginning is just as important as my ending.

Read me with caution, as I am a whirlwind anchored only in faith.

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One foot in and one foot back.

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On August 23, 2015 I was the most scared I have probably ever been. Of course I waited to get past airport security before allowing myself to go into panic mode. In a few short hours I would be embarking into the unknown. A huge question-mark was before me, and all I could do was trust that God was leading me in the right direction. I silently cried while listening to Bethel’s version of “It is Well.” Flashbacks of leaving for college and Study Abroad fluttered around my mind. That all seemed like child’s play in comparison. It was just a huge mess.

(Avett Brothers, “I and love and you”)

My loving family has always wished me well on my adventures, not doubting me for a second. They threw me elaborate going-away parties with banners, cakes and parting-gifts. They never said, “What the heck are you doing, Bre?” (Well, most of them, anyways.) How did they know I was ready for such a huge change?

I think more than they trusted me, they trusted that God was leading me. That’s BIG.

You see, somewhere between beginning college and graduation I decided to live life full-force. I started praying those dangerous prayers like, “send me anywhere,” “correct my mind and my heart,” “teach me how to love like You.” That’s exactly when it all became clear: I had to start going through those open doors. I had to stop doubting their presence. I had to take a LEAP instead of tip-toeing around.

By result, I have been able to experience so much in life at such a young age. And this is just the beginning! img_4378

I see so many of you wishing your life away, constantly using “if-only” vocabulary. I see so many opportunities escaping you because you are doubting the power of the Creator that made you. Yes, imperfections and life-circumstances hinder us, but do we not know that when God calls us to do something He doesn’t send us out powerless? There is a reason you are passionate about that one thing. There is a reason you feel an urge to travel.

Even if it’s not travelling, but starting that business, that’s shaking you to your core, this is for you.

Sometimes you aren’t being urged to do anything drastic, but something so simple that it seems ridiculous.

Either way, the world is counting on you to take action.

 So this is my challenge to you:

STOP STOPPING YOURSELF. START LISTENING TO YOUR  GUT.

STOP BLAMING OTHERS FOR YOUR OWN SELF-DOUBT. TAKE RESPONISBILITY FOR YOUR OWN INACTIONS.

STOP MAKING A LIST OF WHY YOU CAN’T DO SOMETHING. START WRITING DOWN ONLY REASONS YOU SHOULD DO IT.

STOP TIP-TOEING AROUND GOD’S PLAN FOR YOU. TAKE THE LEAP OF FAITH.

You won’t regret it!

Ephesians 3:20-21 NLT

“Now all glory to God, who is able, through His mighty power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think. Glory to Him in the church and in Christ Jesus through all generations forever and ever. Amen.”

 

Happy New Year!

 

 

Christmas: A Reminder

There are a lot of cynical people out there. Throughout the year they have their loudspeaker on full-blast letting us know how idiotic our religion is. They want us to feel insecure in our relationship with the Father, who has been blamed for every disaster since Adam. They want our opinions deemed invalid because they are hinged on our unswaying faith in an infallible God. At times, we feel the weight of this burden is too heavy.

But this season should lift thjhuihuat burden because this season is telling us that it was never ours to bear. We were never meant to shoulder the burden of the world’s cynicism towards God. JESUS DID THAT FOR US.

 

If you’re feeling the weight of cynicism this season, like I have been, remember the birth of Jesus. Remember his story. Remember that you and I don’t have to prove anything. It has never been our job to prove God’s Power. Our job is to pass on the Good Message and let the Spirit do the rest.  That’s what it’s all about: Jesus love for all the world. Even the doubters!

MERRY CHRISTMAS, YA’LL!

thhghjghj

 

 

 

 

American Thanksgiving: What it Should Mean to Us

“giving thanks at all times for all things in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ to the God and Father.” Ephesians 5:20

 I believe we,as Christian-Americans, need to re-focus our attention on the importance of being thankful. The kind of thankful that doesn’t only happen when we ace a test or get what we want. The kind of thankful that shows up in our communion with others and our worship to God. The kind that seems to spill out in our conversation with everyone. The kind not hidden under our pile of complaints.

The first Thanksgiving was celebrated by people that were recently struggling to survive. In fact, they had little hope left by the time a Native friend was sent to them. They could have started blaming God for the many deaths, not getting to land fast enough and the hard labor they had to endure at much cost to their well-being; but, instead, they worshipped Him. They forewent the complaining and went straight to thankfulness. This should tell us something.

Fast forward a few hundred years and we see the toddler America go through a ghastly, horrible Civil War. Thousands had died at the hands of their own brethren and the result was a huge wake-up-call for the nation. Political interests had already tattered the healthy relationship between the Native People and the New. Selfish interests were keeping people from following the ways of Christ, thus polluting the country with ideas that some humans were less valuable than others. Things were looking dim, but Abe Lincoln didn’t allow the cloud to hover long. In fact, he showed the people that he believed in God’s Providence, even in, what others may consider, hopeless times.

“The year that is drawing towards its close, has been filled with the blessings of fruitful fields and healthful skies. To these bounties, which are so constantly enjoyed that we are prone to forget the source from which they come, others have been added, which are of so extraordinary a nature, that they cannot fail to penetrate and soften even the heart which is habitually insensible to the ever watchful providence of Almighty God….And I recommend to them that while offering up the ascriptions justly due to Him for such singular deliverances and blessings, they do also, with humble penitence for our national perverseness and disobedience, commend to His tender care all those who have become widows, orphans, mourners or sufferers in the lamentable civil strife in which we are unavoidably engaged, and fervently implore the interposition of the Almighty Hand to heal the wounds of the nation and to restore it as soon as may be consistent with the Divine purposes to the full enjoyment of peace, harmony, tranquility and Union.” Abe Lincoln 1863 Thanksgiving Proclamation*

Fast forward to now, a still-young country that is still-now dealing with the heavy tides of “progression.” Secularism has taken the nation by storm, and now we are left with few playing cards in hand. The nation that used to be “God’s” is now taken captive (in some opinion). But, to me, this is the perfect time to renew our fervor for the One in control. It’s time to stop depending on humans to fulfill the visions we have for the nation and, instead, place our nation in the powerful Hands of our Father. We need to come together this Thanksgiving and quit parading around like we’ve accomplished anything by ourselves. We need to give Him the thanks and praises that only He deserves.

This is what Thanksgiving should mean to us.

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source: http://www.abrahamlincolnonline.org/lincoln/speeches/thanks.htm

 

Despite Everything

I want to share a piece of my heart with you.

Just yesterday, someone unfavorable won the Presidency. Half of America is now shocked, ashamed, and down-right angry. The other half is thanking God for pouring out favor on us. If the vote had gone the other way, the script would most-likely have remained the same.

We live in a time of “give me what I want or I’ll complain until you do.” God forbid someone wait longer than five-minutes in a grocery check out line. “How dare you state your opinion to me! You must hate me and my family.” You see where I am going…

But we also live in a time where compassion is easy to find. Just do a quick search of volunteer efforts in ________. There are so many caring people (on both sides of the aisle). There are so many people sacrificing time and money in the service of others.

Despite the changing political climate, these people will still be out there, waiting for more people to join in the effort. Despite the selfish attitudes that seem to surround us, the selfless are pouring out themselves onto altars around the world. Despite the naysayers, the optimists are promising that tomorrow will be better.  Despite everything, God’s will is being done.

Sending thoughts of love and peace from the other side of the world.

-Breezy

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Weightier Matters: Wisdom

Let’s be honest, we just don’t love wisdom anymore.

We pay musicians to tell us we are sexually pleasing and validate our party lifestyle. We drink because thinking about life too much causes us to be uncomfortable. We watch movies that give us fuzzies and laughs about sleeping around with no consequences (as if that were ever true). We worship children as if they place the sun on the hilltop and shove our elderly into crowded, dingy, hospital-style homes as if they deserve a prison sentence for living. Wisdom is being shooed away like a bad smell.

Proverbs is one of my favorite books because of it’s straight-forward answers to life’s many questions. You can graze passages and still pick up so much insight. And one of the best nuggets speaks of our distaste for knowledge.

“Wisdom shouts in the streets….How long, you simpletons, will you insist on being simpleminded? How long will you mockers relish your mocking? How long will you fools hate knowledge?” Proverb 1:20-22, paraphrased.

We would like to think that we have evolved into wiser, more stable people; but look around you and see that absolutely nothing is new. Same song, different tune.

We are constantly searching for validation, emotional support and ways to escape; then, when wisdom shouts in the streets, we walk away as if she is a crazed lunatic.

Guys, we need wisdom. If Proverbs doesn’t teach us that, then the state of our world does. Wisdom can be found, not only in the Word, but in that seasoned old man sitting on the park bench and that Ph.D. holder that just returned from Africa.

Wisdom challenges us, not validates us, and it doesn’t always make us feel good. So, don’t expect that old man to fluff your ego; expect to gain insight into someone else’s journey.

Let’s start loving wisdom, and see if that can get us further in our goals.

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