Monday, February 21, 2011

Peace

Hey Circles! I am so excited to be back from New Zealand to dive into community with you guys. I know I am a little behind on blogs and getting to meet you all, but I already feel as if I am part of a family :) I have been so encouraged by how fast we have come together as a community. It shows me how being raw and vulnerable and having a passion for Jesus can really bring people together. This is the community I have longed for. Thanks for all being so real and open with one another.

As I have reflected back on my trip to New Zealand, I have felt so full of awe and joy with being blessed to be in God's beautiful creation. While I was there I was on a bus a lot of the time, but I was able to just sit with my Ipod listening to worship music and talk to God while looking at all He has made. It was so awesome! I struggle being still and present and with giving God my time in prayer. It was cool to be able to do all of that. Now that I am back home, I feel that I have come to appreciate God's creation even more and want to make prayer more a part of my day. :)

I have felt so at peace lately even though my life has a lot of changes going on right now. I am starting school up again, starting Circles, and my life group of one year just ended. I am actually excited for all the changes which is normally not like me. I don't like change. It has been cool because over the last few months I realize God has been transforming my plans and thoughts for my life. I went to Kenya and Ukraine last summer for five weeks and came back a wreck. My heart broke for the people there and I felt overwhelmed by all I had saw. I have had a growing desire and passion to do missions work. It became even stronger on this trip. I came back wanting God to just let me go into the mission field and to lay out a plan for me. I felt like 'I am willing so why not just show me what you want me to do.' While in Kenya I felt that God kept showing me that I need to trust Him and not worry about the future but live in the moment. The verse that I felt God gave me was Jeremiah 29:11 "For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope." I think I am now finally resting in this thought that God has a special plan for me and that I need to trust Him and not try to plan out my life for Him. Awhile ago I came to peace that God wanted me here in California for now. Now that I am staying in California, I was blessed with the opportunity of Circles and now will be going back to school to further my education in nursing to help others and possibly open more doors for the future. I am so excited knowing that I am exactly where God wants me even though I don't know what is going to happen. It is amazing how we can have peace in the unknown :) I was out running yesterday and this song came on my Ipod by Sanctus Real called "Whatever Your Doing".  The chorus says:

Whatever You're doing inside of me
It feels like chaos but somehow there's peace
It's hard to surrender to what I can't see
but I'm giving in to something Heavenly

This rang so true for me. I feel like surrender is so hard especially when I can't see what is going to happen. However, once I do surrender it is so amazing and there is so much peace! So anyways, my prayer right now is that I be still before the Lord. Even though I am at peace I find myself already starting to try to plan my life again in all these amazing opportunities that Circles and other things in my life are presenting. I know I can't do everything but I realize now I need to take it all before the Lord and let Him rule my life. His plan for me is so much better :)

Saturday, February 5, 2011

New Zealand Beauty

I am here in New Zealand with my friend Brenda and loving it! I will have to post pictures when I get back :) A friend of ours is from New Zealand and set it up so that his grandparents picked us up and have been taking us around. It has been amazing! They are the sweetest couple and used to work for WYAM on the Mercy Ships. It has been really cool to ask them all sorts of questions about their experiences since the Mercy Ships has been something I have considered doing. Anyways, we have had the opportunity to go on a bus tour to see the upper part of the North Island. They drove the bus on a 60 mile stretch of beach which was amazing! The beaches here are soo beautiful. Then yesterday we went on a boat tour of the  Bay of Islands and go to snorkel and feed fish out of our hands. We also go to go boom netting which was quite the experience!! Basically a couple of us went in  a net that was attached to the side of the boat while the boat was moving. It was pretty crazy but fun! I have been overwhelmed by the beauty of God's creation. Yesterday as we were in the boat viewing the harbor I couldn't help but praise God and thank Him. I feel so blessed to be here and to enjoy God's creation. I have been reading that book "Here and Now Living in the Spirit" The first chapter was talking about living in the present. I know we all talked about it last Saturday that we met. It is so hard to be still and live for the moment but I am trying to do that. It has been great here just trying to take in every moment and enjoy each day :)
I can't wait to join back in the group when I get home. I am praying for you all!
Ashley