I LOOKED UP (Part 2 – the story continues…)

This was my fourth trip to Nepal to serve with a ministry that buys and frees slaves. We hold women’s conferences in a church and as the speaker, I encourage the women to grow in their relationships with Jesus Christ through various topics that lend themselves to the Discipleship process already going on there.

I am very intentional in preparing a team for the ministry, opportunities and experiences we might have there. The number one way in which I insist they prepare is to, “stay in The Word“. God is writing each of our stories and as we stay in His Word, we will grow to see how it weaves into the fabric of our lives. I cannot stress enough how important it is for ALL of us to take time to “seek first the Kingdom of God…” (Matthew 6:33).

This trip would prove to be one that would challenge each of us to rely on God through the unique relationship we had cultivated with Him during that preparation.

In the hours following the initial earthquake….. (excerpt from my journal on April 25, 2015, following the Nepal earthquake).

“Fear, anxiety and emotions are running high. I think I am internalizing them now. I pray, I sing, I claim the power of God. The aftershocks continue as we sit outside the church. We are being encouraged to move to the open field behind the church to seek greater safety”.

As I walked out to the clearing I began to sing, “I’m gonna go with Jesus anywhere, no matter the roughness of the road….”, a worship song we have often sung in our church. The Holy Spirit reminded me of Psalm 91:1, “He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty. I will say of the LORD, “He is my refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.”

That day, I also chose to trust God with every shaking fiber of my body.

 

field for squatters and animals running wild. Lots of human and animal waste and trash littering the area.  A very rough place to walk.

field for squatters and animals running wild. Lots of human and animal waste and trash littering the area. A very rough place to walk.

Once in the field, I look up and see power lines criss-crossing the sky, which presents more danger and uncertainty if they were to fall. But before more fear can take hold, the Holy Spirit showed me what He wanted me to see instead.

"I lift up my eyes to the hills – where does my help come from?  My help comes from the LORD, the Maker of heaven and earth.  He will not let your foot slip..."

“I lift up my eyes to the hills – where does my help come from? My help comes from the LORD, the Maker of heaven and earth. He will not let your foot slip…”

For the first time, in a few hours, I felt a twinge of peace in my soul that “everything was going to be alright”. God was truly present and He would see us through this. No matter how uncertain the circumstances were going to be, I could be certain that God would continue to be faithful in this situation. Looks like He chose to calm His child instead of calming the earth storm.

We hung out in the field for awhile and once it was “safe enough” (which was debateable), we headed back to the church site.

By now you might be thinking that “Kinita is really good at memorizing scripture”. I assure you, I am not. I can usually remember the words of a passage but not where it is found. Or I will remember that a certain book and chapter of the Bible is significant but can’t remember why.

A random white bird landed on a branch near by during this time.  Perhaps as another visual reminder of the Holy Spirit's presence.

A random white bird landed on a branch near by during this time. Perhaps as another visual reminder of the Holy Spirit’s presence.

That day, I believe the Holy Spirit gave me the help I needed by speaking those words into my ear. When I got home, I looked them up and found them in print.

Believers in Jesus…..here’s how it works. When we say, “we died and we are now hidden with Christ in God” (Colossians 3:3), it means first we have died to our own desires, passions and expectations and that God is our protector, shield and guard. The Holy Spirit is our companion. Unfortunately, so many people say this and then in a crisis, run and hide behind idols. That day, something died in me for good. Even though I can’t quite put into words what died in me that day, I can say with more clarity and vigor, that God’s Words and His Presence became more alive and palpable than ever before in my life.

We have an incredible gift of His “Shadow” (Psalm 91) and yet some still choose the things of this earth.

Please understand, I haven’t arrived. God continues to refine me. My prayer is that God will use this experience in my life to give you the Hope that He wants for you.

That day as Kathmandu was lifted approximately 1 meter in the air (statement made in a report I read), I believe I was lifted onto God’s shoulders as a reminder of His care for me (Luke 15:5 was prayed over us before we left on the trip).

Although I continue to deal with some physical ailments from that day, my heart is stronger today because of how God showed Himself to me when I looked up.

“Shoulders” by King & Country …was a great inspiration and a song I held in my heart throughout this particular trip and as I prepared for going.

Thank you for journeying with me. May the LORD be gracious to you when you look up.

REFLECTION:

Where is the earth moving under your feet and causing you uncertainty?

What is the earthly storm you are going through?

Where are you looking?

How do you respond to the “aftershocks” surrounding the crisis in your own journey?

 

Gotta Have Faith

When the earth moves beneath my feet and the mountains (threaten) to fall into the sea. (Psalm 46)

I gotta have faith.

That happened. No really, but the earth did move beneath my feet while on a recent mission trip to Nepal. By now it’s all over the news and for some people it is just that – news. They have moved on and are now addressing the “next big deal”. But for some of us, it is still a big deal because not only has it changed our hearts forever, but because people we served with and love very much are still digging out from the rubble and doing their part to continue serving others who are suffering the ongoing effects of this tragedy.

Inside the church

Inside the church

I was in CrossWay Community Church in a church service when this life altering experience took place. We had just experienced some of the most exhilarating tear-filled time of singing, worship, and prayer minutes before. The Holy Spirit was so present. My heart was overflowing with praise to God for the amazing 2 weeks of ministry in East and West Nepal that had ended the day before.

Celebration dinner the night before

Celebration dinner the night before

I was getting strengthened for what was next and my heart was open to the LORD for His leading.

Pastor Arbin Pokharel began preaching on Acts 1&2, beginning a new series on “Discipleship” and the importance of it in the life of a believer”. I wrote in my notes that day, “God has given us the keys to the Kingdom”. I don’t remember if he said that, or if that’s what the Holy Spirit was telling me as a result of the message he was speaking on.

Then the lights went out – typical Nepali fashion – so no one seemed concerned. Within seconds everything shook. (As I recount this story, I continue to feel that shaking. The triggers are still strong and unpredictable). It was as though we were all in a doll house and the (giant) child outside was shaking it. We scrambled and some screamed. My teammate fell and I grabbed her to pull her up. I was not about to take another step before making sure we were all safe. In doing so, I wrenched my back, only to find out later that I pulled my trapezius muscle and popped a couple ribs. Ouch.

After huddling by a wall and praying fervently we were encouraged to exit the building because there were cracks on the opposing walls and it wasn’t clear if they would topple at any second.

So much was uncertain.

You see, when the earth moved under my feet, I experienced an immediate sense of loss. Loss of balance, loss of understanding, loss of direction, loss of time, loss of reality, loss of safety, loss of nerves. But all the while, I was certain that God was with me every wobbly step of the way.

Psalm 46:10 says, “Be still and know that I am God”. I was trying to be still alright. It was a little hard, physically, because the force of the tectonic plates shifting the earth beneath us was more than my body could sustain. My soul however, remained still amidst the encroaching fear. As a team we had celebrated the night before the reality of God’s obvious presence during the previous two weeks. Now I was in a valley of uncertainty. BUT I was determined to claim this same truth. He was present. How did I know? Because His Word says, “I will never leave you or forsake you…” (Deuteronomy 31:6, Joshua 1:5, Hebrews 13:5). I chose to put my trust in Him and His Word.

I was certain of God and His Promises.

We all made it safely to the clearing on the outside of the church building. It was like running out of someone’s basement and onto their front lawn. Once we arrived there, we experienced another 6.9 scaled quake. Without having time to recover from the 7.8 in the church, the emotions just piled on.

The clearing outside the church  (far left of screen)

The clearing outside the church (far left of screen)

While on the front lawn of the church it felt like we were standing on a wobbly card table. Not cool.

Over the next few hours we sang, we prayed, and I journaled what I could. I took some pictures because I didn’t want to miss out on what God was going to tell me later about those moments. Yet, taking pictures felt a little awkward because I wondered if I was violating a sacred experience somehow.

As a result of this experience, I am more sure that the keys to the Kingdom are Faith, God’s Word, and Prayer. Do you have them?

To be continued……..

REFLECTION:

What elements of faith do you hang on to in the midst of crisis?

Are you in a crisis right now? Where, to whom or to what are you running to?

Thank you for journeying with me

Kinita

Anger Management

My quills are sharp and ready to fire. I need to protect myself from you, from her, from him and from them. Welcome to my wake up call.

angry porcupine 2

I was a young wife and mother and had become a porcupine, “one who rises in anger”. I had an anger problem. Notice I said, “had”? Well, some of those emotions have come up in me again. The good news is, I am not her anymore.

…let me explain…

Years ago, I had a real problem with anger. I self-classified myself as an almost-errupting-volcano often. You wouldn’t recognize me today if you knew me then. I would yell at my kids and fight with my husband and for certain, didn’t like myself very much. It was a tough road to travel for sure. One that had me trapped in fear, anxiety, mistrust and rejection. Who would want to hug a porcupine anyway? I believed I deserved the treatment I was receiving. The results of that anger soon had a ripple effect from my marriage to my parenting to my friendships that eventually lead me to counseling and even anti-depressants for a short time. The marks of my quills had scarred my children, my husband and my soul. I believed I was beyond forgiveness.

I was wrong.

With the help of some trusted friends, my counsellor, my husband and the Holy Spirit, I began to address the reasons behind my anger. As much as the feelings I experienced were justified, my choice to sin in that anger were not. I needed true forgiveness. I received it from all parties involved.

At one point, I even made a list…a very long list, of all the things and people that were making me angry. I sat before the LORD and spoke out my anger to Him. Over the following months and years He covered my quills with His healing, grace, comfort, patience, peace, restoration, sensitivity, confidence, acceptance and His value for me.

IMG_1787

It was as though I had become a sheep. He had covered all of my quills and transformed me completely.

sheep 5

So here we are now, years later with the pressures of the past year taking their toll on me. In the past few months especially, I have been wondering why I am feeling so prickly again.

Then it happens…..the LORD shows me myself. Not how He sees me – a sheep. He shows me what I am becoming again – a porcupine.

Thus my wake up call.

I am seeing my quills exposed again in some areas and I am ready to fire them if I need to. But I don’t because of the Grace of God in my life and I don’t want the enemy to win.

I know God is still protecting me but I also know that the Enemy is roaming around like a lion waiting for someone to devour. Even though I have felt the need to protect myself, I will not give in to his taunts to fail and go back to being my old self.  angry porcupine 1

I start to realize that the more I try to protect myself, the more angry I become because it isn’t working.

What am I to do?

I am to put my spiritual armor on (Ephesians 6). I am to confess my shortcomings, frustrations and feelings. I am to surround myself with people who will pray me through this. I will fight the Enemy and trust God to protect every inch of my being.

sheep 1

You see, I need Jesus!! I need Him every minute of every hour of every day. I cannot do this life without Him. He is my Covering. He is my Peace. He is my Protector. He is my Rock. He is my only Comfort in life and in death. He is my Portion. He is my Shield. I am His sheep.

Underneath, I am still the porcupine but as I remain close to Jesus, my Shepherd, He continues to see me as a sheep.

I choose to see me as a sheep as well.

I choose to submit to God with all my heart.

I choose to take every thought and feeling captive.

I choose to remember that God will never leave me or forsake me.

I choose to trust God to soften my hard spots.

I choose to stand on His Word, my Rock.

I choose to surrender.

How about you?

How do you manage your anger?

Are you a porcupine or a sheep?

How do you tend to protect yourself?

What gets your quills fired up?

Where are you seeing the covering of God in your life?

Thank you for taking this journey with me.

Blessings,

Kinita

Blurred Lines

A great resource for those who want to clean up blurred lines.

A great resource for those who want to clean up blurred lines.

As much as this blog is NOT completely about me, I have experienced many of the moments described below!!! I chose to write this piece because of how God has healed me from my brokenness and He can do the same for you. We need to learn to live WITH each other and not AGAINST each other.

These statements, although birthed as a response to the racial tension in this country, can be applied in many other situations as well.

Here goes….

You look at me and smile so now I think I am accepted.

You look at me with fear and judgement and I realize I was only tolerated.

You look at me and you wonder where I am from and wonder how did I get here.

You look at me and reach out with your heart but then don’t understand when I share.

You look at me and question my motives and the fear I see keeps me trapped in mine.

You look at me and size me up so as to question my presence.

You look at me and ask me my story and I reluctantly invite you in.

You look at me and shake your head because I don’t look like you.

You look at me and turn your nose up because you need me to think you are better than me.

You look at me and shudder at the thought that your world is different because of me.

You look at me and wonder what your friends and family might think if they saw us together.

You look at me and wonder that maybe, just maybe, it’s not my fault I look this way.

You look at me and begin to realize that the same Jesus who died for you, died for me.

You look at me and realize that forgiveness is for both of us.

You look at me and accept that there is enough Grace and Mercy to go around.

You look at me and ask if we can really be friends.

You look at me and share your heart, your fears, your shortcomings.

You look at me and ask if we can walk and maybe even dance in reconciliation.

You look at me and no longer tolerate me, but you accept me with all your heart.

And now, because of the healing power of Jesus Christ and what He did at the Cross for us….

…..You don’t just look at me anymore….You see me.

photo

How about you?

In your life, are you feeling tolerated or truly accepted?

Do you look at people you don’t know with intrigue or suspicion?

There is a difference.

Where do your blurred lines lie?

What will you do to become a difference maker?

For those who know my story…..thank you for seeing me.

Kinita

Not For Sale

Generally there are four seasons every year but for most of us across the Continental U.S and Canada, we can add two more. “Construction and Garage Sale” Season. Often here in Michigan,when the climate gets warmer and the ground has thawed, our streets are flooded with construction vehicles that are fixing roadways, sidewalks or simply just building new ones.

Garage Sale season is in full swing when we see homemade signs on the corners of intersections and at the end of neighbourhood streets. Some even linger long after a sale is finished (Yup, a pet-peeve of mine), advertising everything from childrens items to small appliances, from clothing to lawn furniture. The thought is that, “anything you want, you will probably find at a garage sale”.

oscar the grouch

During this season, I am often reminded of a children’s book we had in our home. When our children were little we would read to them and as they learned to read they would gravitate to this book as well. “Trash to Treasure: that’s the Grouch way”, a Sesame Street Golden book written by Liza Alexander. On the show and in the book, Oscar the Grouch, lived in a garbage can and pretty much grumbled, whined and complained about everything. He was a grouch and lived up to his name well. In the show Oscar had an “uncanny” (punn intended) way of taking trash and making it into something useful. If he was real, he would have been great at selling things at a garage sale. Convincing people that sometimes one person’s trash is useful and can become another person’s treasure.

Does your trash have a price?

For fifteen years I was faithful at going through our house and finding things in order to host our own sale – things we didn’t want, that didn’t fit, or were just taking up space. It became a once-a-year routine almost. Sometimes I would go in with a neighbour or another friend so as to have company and help for the day or two we were open. It was fun (for the most part) meeting people, getting money for whatever it was we were saving for at the time, hanging out and having great conversations with a friend over the scheduled time.

Over the years, I began to enjoy the whole experience less and less. It was more draining than fueling. The pricing, the setting up, the signs, making less money for the same amount of work only fueled my desire to quit. I had run my course of hosting garage sales and soon would discover that shopping at them was not appealing either.

What changed? What happened to my passion, my desire to take my trash and turn it into treasure? It was a season, one that lasted fifteen years.

I also have trash that has a price. So do you, whether you choose to acknowledge it or not.  It is sin, but it really is trash. Unlike the stuff in our homes that we don’t want around but we put a price tag on, sin needs to be unloaded permanently without expecting anything in return.  It is garbage and belongs in a bin at the foot of the Cross. For some of us, we might feel that thebin needs to be a barrel or anything from a U-haul truck to a semi.

Why the Cross you ask? Because that’s where we get the top price!! Jesus Christ poured out His blood for our sin. We are called to confess, give Him our sin because He has already paid for it in full. No sale price, no discount, no return policy. He paid ONE price for ALL the sin in the world. As followers of Christ, our job now is to simply acknowledge and confess the sin that lingers and embrace the forgiveness He has already given us.

When we embrace His forgiveness we are more apt to give forgiveness freely.

Sadly, so many believers go on thinking (and living) as though “their sin is still for sale”. They struggle with completely embracing the forgiveness Jesus gave them at the Cross. They hold on to their sin as though it were a treasure and if they were to “put it out there”, they might face rejection and that would be more painful than the understanding the comfort of forgiveness. The “for sale” sign that hung on my heart came down when I was just a teenager. There have been times over the past thirty years that I have treasured sin in my heart. Sometimes it was because of fear, while other times it was because of a lack of understanding that I was TRULY and COMPLETELY forgiven!!

 

Unfortunately, I found myself surrounded by people who also lived the lie that forgiveness was difficult to fully receive. As I spent more time in The Golden book, the Holy Bible, I grew in my understanding of my sin and found great comfort through confession and forgiveness received through the blood of Jesus.

 

The enemy’s role is to keep unbelievers in the dark and the believer from finding freedom in their faith journey while trying to destroy their witness. He uses sin to keep us trapped. God transforms our sin into His glory. He takes our trash and turns us into His Treasure!!!

 

How about you?

Are you treasuring sin?

Have you received the FULL price for your sin?

Do you still have a “for sale” sign on your heart?

 

Thank you for joining me on this journey,

Kinita