Wednesday, October 19, 2011

A Diamond Ring and Burried Treasure

Here’s how it all happened….
Saturday night (October 8th) I was hanging out with some of my girlfriends and I got a phone call at around 11:30 from Jeremy. He asked me about my day and about my plans for the next day.  I told him I was going to church with Kristin at 10:30, Lunch with Marielle and Kjerstin at 12:30, Teaching Sunday school at 5 and babysitting at 6:45.
Jeremy said something along the lines of, “sounds like a busy day! I didn’t know you were going to see Mari and Kjerstin… that’ll be fun. By the way… I have a surprise for you tomorrow morning, get ready and I’ll pick you up at 8.”
In my mind I was thinking, I bet he’s taking me out for breakfast and has a coupon that can only be used between 8 and 10 or something. Over the next few hours I got a text from Mari saying she got tickets to the Vikings game and wanted to reschedule (Lie #1), then Kjerstin texted me saying that her mom wanted to do some planning for her wedding that afternoon so she couldn’t get together either (Lie #2). The next morning I got a text from Kristin saying- “sorry but I’m not going to make it to church this morning… maybe next week?” (Lie #3) Looking back, I should’ve known something was up but good thing I’m oblivious to all things and still had no clue.
Annika had slept over that night and asked why I was leaving so early and she said “I bet you’re gonna get engaged!” I quickly told her that it wasn’t going to happen since I thought it would happen over Thanksgiving. 
He picked me up at 8:15 (because I was late :-/) and we started to drive. About 10 minutes into the drive I asked where we were going. He said it depended on what time I needed to be back and I told him I got ditched by all my friends so I didn’t need to be back until 3:30 to get ready for Sunday School. He said, “That’s actually perfect because I Googled places online that are the best for seeing leaves at this time of year and found that Stillwater and Duluth are the best (Lie #4) (I had been working on making an activity center for my First Graders and needed to collect a bunch of leaves and he said he would help me out). So since I had so much extra time he suggested we go to Duluth for a spontaneous trip. I was still clueless and just thought it was a fun idea.

When we got there, we got soup from a deli and ate it at Park Point, a beach that his family ALWAYS goes to when they’re in Duluth (Lie #5). After eating, he said we should get started on our leaf hunt. As we walked along the beach toward the woods, he pointed out a log that was buried in the sand and had my initials on the end. What a funny coincidence! When we were on Choir tour in Ohio a few years ago, there was a tree with a heart and our initials carved into it so I thought it was just another coincidence. Next thing I knew, he was pulling the log out of the sand and it said “Will you marry me?” carved into the side of it. As he pulled a ring out of his pocket, he got down on one knee and asked me to marry him. To be completely honest, I have no clue what else he said but of course I said, “yes!”
 He told me that he called Kristin and told her to cancel on church, he got a substitute for Sunday school, called my nanny mom and Gretchen said she would babysit for me, and he scrambled to find Kjerstin and Mari’s numbers to tell them to cancel… no wonder they texted me so late! So we had the whole day to spend together and just enjoy our special day. We went for a walk along the shore, walked out to the light house, went to all the little shops, and went to eat at the rotating restaurant at the top of the Radisson.

He kept insisting that we go back to the place he proposed so we could watch the sunset. When we got there, he said, “When I took out that log, I don’t think I dug deep enough… let’s dig deeper.” So we got down and dug in the sand until we hit a wooden chest. I recognized it right away… at Easter we were cleaning out my Grandma’s house since she’s in a nursing home now so my cousins and I were all claiming what we wanted to take. In the basement there was a really old chest with Norwegian writing on it that you could barely read anymore, the hinges were broken, the wood was rotting and my mom wanted to throw it away. Jeremy thought it was cool and said we should take it. Without me knowing it, he sanded, stained and varnished it and burned our names in the top and burned a big L on the front for Langness. Inside there was a white blanket, two champagne glasses, sparking grape juice and candles. So we spent our evening enjoying each other’s company, looking at the moon and listening to the waves. It was an absolutely perfect day and I couldn’t have asked for anything better.

On the way home from Duluth, we had so many good laughs as we listened to the reactions of our families and close friends. I am so incredibly blessed. I can’t believe all of the time he put into that day (he and Jon even drove up there the night before to bury everything- thanks Jon!). This is only the beginning of this journey together and I’m so excited to confidently know that I will spend the rest of my life with him. I am one lucky girl.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

The other day, I came across part of an old sermon that John Piper preached in 1983 (before I was even born…. Whoa, how old is he? ) and he was talking about the meaning behind the word “Hosanna.” He shared that in the Psalms, “Hosanna” is used as a cry for help, like if someone pushes you into a pool and you can’t swim so you yell, “Help, save me!” yet in those verses, it is still immediately followed by “Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord” pointing to the One who brings salvation (Psalm 118:25-26). Over the years the meaning of the word changed from a cry for help, to a declaration of the help that has come. Rather than yelling “Help, Save me!” after being pushed into a pool, we see the lifeguard coming and yell, “Hosanna- my Salvation has come!”
This week I’ve been dwelling on what that means… like what it really means for me personally, and I’ve been overwhelmed by that. My cry for help has been replaced by the declaration that my salvation has come. I’m so thankful that I worship the God who doesn’t leave His people to rescue themselves but has made a way for each of us to be with Him.
Sometimes the most profound things are best put in simple terms, so in the words of my favorite children's book, The Jesus Storybook Bible….
God loved his children too much to let the story end there. Even though he knew he would suffer, God had a plan- a magnificent dream. One day, he would get his children back. And one day, he would wipe away every tear from their eyes.
You see, no matter what, in spite of everything, God would love his children- with a Never Stopping, Never Giving Up, Unbreaking, Always and Forever Love. And though they would forget him, and run from him, deep in their hearts, God’s children would miss him always, and long for him- lost children yearning for their home.
Before they left the garden, God whispered a promise to Adam and Eve: “It will not always be so! I will come to rescue you! And when I do, I’m going to do battle against the snake. I’ll get rid of the sin and the dark and the sadness you let in here. I’m coming back for you!
Praise the Lord He chose to save us in spite of who we are! Hosanna- Salvation has come!

On another note... this is my most recent favorite song. Check it out- Sooo good!

Sunday, September 18, 2011

My Girls :-)

The new school year has begun and I think I’m busier than I ever have been. Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays I have class at Northwestern followed by nannying for 2 of my favorite kiddos (and their new puppy “Ted”). And Tuesdays and Thursdays I’m doing pre-student teaching in a first grade classroom all day. My evenings are spent back in Plymouth at AFLBS where I’m on dorm staff again this year. These past couple weeks have been extremely insane with so many things going on but it’s good to be back in somewhat of a routine.
I’m so excited about everything that God has in store for the girls here at Bible School. The girls on my wing are awesome and I just know it’s going to be a great year. Please be praying for the 13 beautiful girls that the Lord has entrusted to me this year as they study God’s Word and are a target for attacks from the enemy. And please pray for me that I would be obedient to the Spirit as I minister to them.

Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.
Ephesians 3:20-21

Monday, September 5, 2011

Today I can’t stop thinking about a sweet little face that has been engraved in my mind from my time in Johannesburg. While visiting one of the orphanages, I spent most of my time with a precious little boy that I will never forget. I’ll never forget his big smile as he repeated after me, “Jesus… loves… me…. Jesus loves me!” I keep thinking about him… about his future… where he’ll end up someday… if he’ll ever be able to fully trust that Someone loves him more than he knows. I don’t know his story of how he ended up there but God knows. God knows his past, He knows what that sweet boy is doing right now, He knows where he’ll be ten years from now. If I could’ve taken him back with me, I would’ve done it in a heartbeat. For now I want to be a prayer warrior for that little one that instantly captured my heart and that God would be working in the hearts of whoever will choose to be his forever family. God has a plan for that boy that he created to be His child. God places the lonely in families (Psalm 68:6) and I know that he is preparing something for that sweet little boy. I can take comfort in knowing that our God’s heart is to show his precious children love and I’m confident that He already has a perfect plan.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

PLEASE be in prayer for my former teammates as they are in Phuket, Thailand this month doing bar ministry, reaching prostitutes through an organization called SHE. Here are blogs from 2 of the girls I was with in South Africa about what they’re doing this month:
Pray for them as they face much spiritual warfare in bringing The Light to such a dark place.
I’ve been back from South Africa for a little over a week and have been adjusting to life back in MN. It’s crazy that even though I was only gone for a month, it seems so weird to be back. It’s been good though and I’m excited for what God has in store for this year.
I’ll write a more specifics about my trip another time but for now, here’s a small list of some things I learned/ was reminded of over the course of the month.
·         God doesn’t always call me to do what I WANT to do- ministry doesn’t always look like what I expect it to
·         The importance of community and honoring each other and how that impacts so many things
·         The number of seatbelts in a vehicle is only a suggestion for how many people can actually fit
·         The importance of being real
·         God is so much bigger than I’ve made Him out to be
·         McDonalds always tastes the same- no matter where you go
·         What a genuine relationship and intimacy with the Lord looks like
·         The power and reality of the Holy Spirit
·         The importance of treating people with JUSTICE rather than CHARITY
·         The Lord delights in me
·         How to make a LASTING impact by helping people help themselves
·         The importance of surrendering expectations and being open to be used in ways I don’t understand
·         Laughter is the best medicine J
·         God still speaks and wants me to live each day in tune with the Holy Spirit
·         Being aware of simple things that can be a distraction from purposeful living
·         There are endless opportunities to serve the Lord WHEREVER I go

….. this is only a fraction of what I learned. Each of those has a story behind it and I could probably go on forever. God is so good!

Sunday, July 24, 2011

A Glimpse of Life in Joburg

Greetings from South Africa!
It's been 3 1/2 weeks since our team left for South Africa and I feel like I've learned more these past 3 weeks than I have in the past 3 years. I'll do my best to sum up a little of what's happened... Here's a small glimpse:

Team Fuego- my team for the month
Most of our first week was spent getting to know the teams that we're working with and I've learned so much from them about living in community, and truly living radically. In the past 6 months they've been doing ministry in:
Swaziland &

To be completely honest, when I first got to Johannesburg, I was a little disappointed that I wasn't going to be spending my month in the bush working with kids but I've really grown to love our ministry here and have been learning that God has us here for a purpose. I've been seeing that our view of "ministry" isn't always the same as His. 
     Johannesburg is a unique place. It is one of the biggest cities in Africa and has interesting dynamics since here, the 1st world meets the 3rd world. We've seen this reality as we've been spending a lot of time out in the city. We were initially told we would be working with campus outreach but since schedules were switched around, we've been partnering with the website and helping them with networking. The first few days we were all having a hard time seeing how working with a website could be a ministry but it's opened up doors for us to meet so many passionate people, encourage them in what they are doing to impact their community and volunteer along side them. We've been going all around Johannesburg visiting churches and non-profit organizations in hopes that they will get connected with other churches and organizations to help bring Jesus to South Africa.

    So far, we've been able to go to a township and have a barbecue (or brie) with some of the families there, color with the children, and learn about life in the township.

     We've met with a man who helps provide after-school activities and counseling for the youth in the city in hopes to encourage them to work hard and take ownership of the successes that come from hard work. We visited with 2 American women who work for Oasis Haven, a children's home that partners with adoption agencies, and we were able to hear their heart for the orphaned and vulnerable children in South Africa. I was at this "meeting" with 2 other girls on my team and I think it was a conversation that we'll all remember forever. After Oasis Haven, we met with Vincent, a man who works for JAM (Joint Aid Management). JAM was started by a man who visited Mozambique during the civil war and decided to dedicate his life to helping people meet their basic needs. JAM partners with Jesus Alive Gospel Outreach and we met with them this morning. They go into rural areas of Africa and basically hold evangelistic meetings and provide discipleship materials in the dialect of the people group. 
     Monday was Mandela Day and a few of us went with JAM to hand out blankets while others partnered with a church to help clean and do other projects in the community.

     On the weekends, we've been able to find some fun activities in JoBurg. We went to go to a Lion Park where we were able to pet lion cubs and feed a giraffe. Last weekend was filled with shopping at the African Market and going to a Rugby game. During the evenings, we've filled our time with worship, "family" dinners, and conversations of what the Lord is doing in our hearts. 

KK and I at a Rugby Game
    I've loved my first 3 weeks here and have been challenged in ways I never expected. It has been so great seeing how God has prepared divine appointments and listening as He speaks to my heart in ways I've never experienced before. I'm sad to be going home next week but I am so excited to take what I've learned back to my life in MN.