Monday, May 25, 2015

Why is God so Good?

Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that the family of believers throughout the world is undergoing the same kind of sufferings. And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast. - 1 Peter 5:8-10 (NIV)

Why do I have such a hard time believing that God is good? Just this weekend God used someone close to me to teach me that the devil is alive and he will come after those who seek God at the times they are the weakest. He will catch them in a moment when their guard is down. When they think, "I've got this. No big deal," he will try to devour. And God will let him. Because we should always be alert. It's tiring, yes, but God has called us to bigger and better things.

I have asked that God refine me and prepare me for the next step, to go out to the nations and share His love. Just a reminder folks, don't pray for something if you don't mean it. Whenever I try to tell God, "Ok, ok...I get it...I've got it under control." God gently but firmly says, "You need to give this over to me. You need to let it go. We can't move forward when you are still holding onto this earthly thing. I have something bigger for you. But you have to admit you are powerless. Then I will make you strong." What a hard lesson to learn sometimes! And, man, I can be stubborn too!

But, God is good.

The verse above says that "after a little while" God will "restore you." God's timing is always so...unpredictable. Sometimes "a little while" means several years and sometimes it means just a few hours. But I always think, in my humanness, that God will drag out the teaching. He'll drag out my "punishment" if you will. I have a hard time believing the good things I receive after I have just been a sinner in my finest: I wake up reconciled with others but I still walk around on egg shells. Do I not believe that God can restore relationships? I find a message from someone I admire reaching out to connect with little ol' me. Do I not believe that God will open doors for me? Do I not believe that God is good? Do I not believe when He says He will give me "a crown of beauty instead of ashes"? Why do I always think that I deserve eternal punishment when God says, "I'm waiting for you to turn to me so I can bring you blessings"? sad that I do this ALL. THE. TIME. And then, worst of all, I miss out on the blessings because I'm still wallowing in the guilt of my sin.

Y'all, God is good. He loves us so much, even when we totally don't deserve it. He wants to teach us, not to punish us, but to bring us to greater joy, to draw us closer to Him, to pour out blessings. He wants us to turn away from things that look good on the outside but will end up hurting us. The next time I have a setback (and it will happen because I'm just a human being after all) I hope I remember this.

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Full Time

When I started blogging again at the end of 2013 I named my blog Missionary Mama because, at that time, I was traveling short term (2-3 weeks at a time) to Romania twice a year. My grandmother gave me the name "missionary mama" because I was a mother to the kids I worked with in the mission field.

I have strong opinions about missions work. I believe that short term trips are good and I believe that long term trips or internships are good and I believe that full time missions is good. In December 2013 I was still under the impression that I was to continue doing short term trips. But that began to change when I stepped off the plane in January 2014.

Mom and I had gone to Romania after Christmas in December 2013. We stayed for about 2 weeks and I had the joy of introducing my mom to the kids, staff, and missions work that I had loved doing for the previous 3 years. After we came back, God laid it on my mom's heart to start talking with me about going back to Romania for a longer period of time. Until then I hadn't had that desire but, as God was prompting my mom to speak with me, He was opening my heart to the possibility of long term missions work.

Over the next several months the calling began to get stronger. I reached out to Jim and Jodi (the American directors of Heart to Heart, the organization I had been going to Romania through) and asked some questions. During the summer of 2014 I went back to Romania. During that time it became clear to me that I needed to make a move. Romania was calling and I needed to answer.

I submitted my application to Heart to Heart in the fall and began the long journey of fundraising. There were lots of tears, lots of doubts, lots of worries, and some moments of frustration but, after just about 6 months, I have finally raised enough money to make the move into full time ministry in Romania.

Why haven't I blogged about this before now? Well, I didn't want to give my notice at my current job until I was 100% ready to leave. And I didn't want to say too much on social media or my blog because I'm friends with some of my co-workers on Facebook. Now that I have given my letter of resignation I feel more at liberty to talk about my transition.

I will still be able to keep in touch with everyone (I may even blog more! Haha!). I have a special Facebook group set up where I can post pictures and talk about my work (let me know if you want to join, the group is "secret" because there are restrictions on the pictures I can post on social media). I still have my email and I also send out a monthly newsletter (click the link to sign up).

Finally, just because I have enough money to leave for Romania doesn't mean that fundraising is done. I have lots of expenses to cover: food, transportation, rent, student loans, ministry supplies... I'm still looking for some monthly giving partners. If you would like to donate even just $5 a month it would greatly help me. Here are the forms to use if you are interested:

  • Monthly transfer from your bank account: (please note that you will need to write a note on here indicating that your donation should go to my account...just put "Designated for Melissa Brown" at the top of the slip before sending it in)

If you can only give a one time donation that would greatly help me as well. Having a little extra in my start up funds means I don't have to spend money from my monthly budget for things like furniture and language lessons.

My last day at my current job is May 29th and I leave for Romania on June 28th. I have training in San Diego at the beginning of June and lots of packing to do. As the time for me to transition into a new stage of life approaches I'll be sharing more about what I'll be doing in Romania and what moving half way around the world looks like.

Thanks for sticking it out with me through this amazing and life changing process!