Victim or Vessel?

Morning after sleeping on the veranda of Dr. Rongong.

Morning after sleeping on the veranda of Dr. Rongong.

After spending that first night on our friend’s veranda sleeping in white plastic lawn chairs while bundled up in comforters and headcoverings, we sought shelter at the U.S Embassy. At first, they wouldn’t let me enter because I am a Canadian citizen and carry a Canadian passport accompanied with my Resident Alien Green Card. My teammates, however, are full U.S citizens and therefore had full privilege and access into the embassy. I didn’t, so I did what I do best. I paced and cried and prayed and sang and cried and prayed, over and over again till I got some results.

My song choice? “I will wait on the LORD, I will wait on the LORD, I will wait on the LORD, till He calls. I will wait on the LORD, I will wait on the LORD, I will wait on the LORD, till He calls”. (set to the tune of “I will trust in the LORD”). I sure put on a show for the security cameras.

When the first guard came out, I motioned to see if I could come in and he said, “no, we are still talking about you”. Did I really reach celebrity status? NOT!! So I continued with the song already mentioned. This time with more determination. I wasn’t going to let a person decide my path, I was going to “trust and wait on the LORD” (Prov. 3:5-6) with every exhausted fiber of my body. Finally, a guard came out and with tear-stained face, I was ushered through a security room, through a courtyard, and finally into the rescue shelter. God made a way. Man just held the door open.

The following morning I was able to get a call out to my husband on the U.S Embassy phone. Tears streamed down my face as I heard his voice and clutched his every word. Although I was in a somewhat safe place physically, I was still scared. I wanted normal. I wanted comfort. I wanted the noises in my head to stop. I wanted the ground beneath my feet to stop moving. I wanted the psychological tremors in my heart and head to cease. I wanted to deny that I was at my breaking point. But since I don’t do denial, I can admit that I had had enough. I was spent. I was at my breaking point.

Toward the end of our conversation, my husband said, “babe, remember, you can either be a vessel or a victim”.

It didn’t take long before those words took deep roots in my soul and began to give me the Hope I needed to finish strong. I have since asked God to help me continue to live them out.

Following the phone conversation with my husband, I decided to journal what he might have meant and how that was impacting my heart at such a critical moment. At the same time, a newly acquainted friend Sonia came in and asked if anyone would like to help in the kitchen or in any other way. Right away, I knew it was “vessel” time. I jumped up with great enthusiasm and headed to the kitchen to sign up to serve breakfast to the almost 300 people that were in the Embassy that day. The room was filled with a variety of people – military personnel in uniform, Peace Corp volunteers, military families along with their pets seeking shelter, U.S citizens who were on Hindu pilgrimages, climbers, and many others. For some, this was their first meal in two days. It was a humbling experience, to say the least.

My newly acquainted friend Sonia.

My newly acquainted friend Sonia.

My job was to serve the rice and potatoes. How hard can that be right? Then I heard Ken’s voice again reminding me, “babe, you are a vessel NOT a victim”. A vessel pours out.

I served with a smile that became a gift to so many. While many returned the pleasant gesture and even responded with, “thank you for the beautiful smile”, others came up to the counter with distress and anguish in their eyes and a grumble or complaint on their lips. The pain I saw in their eyes and face, matched what I was feeling in my heart. On several occasions, as I served, I felt the burning in my eyes as I fought back the tears from flooding my face, all the while knowing I would eventually have a time and place to shed those tears. But right then, the moment wasn’t right. Being on the serving side of the counter strengthened my heart and fed my soul. But the reality was I was no different than the people I was serving. We were all facing the same crisis of uncertainty. We all needed a rescue and a place to lay our heads. We would all be carrying the same fear from this earthquake. But that day, I was called to be set apart. I was challenged to NOT be a victim, BUT a vessel. I’m so glad the Holy Spirit helped me be a vessel. I feel so blessed to have been poured out in such a practical way.

I remember one man who complained about the rationed portions we were giving him. I got angry in my heart and fought the tears and mumbled under my breathe, “we could take that away you know”. (I never said I served perfectly. I just said I served.)

Special friends we made at the Embassy.  Malcolm (red shirt) and Jewleon (black shirt). So blessed by their friendship and support during our time there.

Special friends we made at the Embassy. Malcolm (red shirt) and Jewleon (black shirt). So blessed by their friendship and support during our time there.

I learned that day that an ungrateful and complaining person is still hard for me to appreciate. But God had called me to be a vessel that day and I was going to submit to His leading.

When a person is a vessel (one who pours out) she doesn’t hold back when tipped in the right direction. So I kept serving. I kept pouring out. Oh, the joy I felt that day in those few hours. I almost forgot I was in a shelter needing protection myself. I also forgot that my shoulder was burning with intense pain.

Our accommodations at the U.S. Embassy. It was called the "Multi-Purpose" room, and lived up to it's name!!

Our accommodations at the U.S. Embassy. It was called the “Multi-Purpose” room, and lived up to it’s name!!

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As I am home now with my husband and children, I am continuing on my healing journey. I am also realizing that disciples are vessels because of what Christ has done for us. If we stay as victims we lack the appreciation or understanding of what Jesus did on the Cross for us.

Before the trip, I kept the following phrase close to my heart. “Broken and Poured Out”. Yes, the ground broke beneath my feet in Nepal, but the LORD is using it for His glory and pouring me out according to His choosing.

In closing I want to add a quote from Oswald Chambers.

“It is one thing to choose the disagreeable, and another thing to go into the disagreeable of God’s engineering. If God puts you there, He is simply sufficient”. (“My Utmost For His Highest” by Oswald Chambers. May 14th entry)

I chose to go on this mission trip to Nepal, which meant choosing the common discomforts I would encounter in any underdeveloped countries. But I didn’t choose the earthquake. God did. I believe God moved the earth that day for His purposes. He broke the earth and at the same time He broke hearts – mine included. I am not the same person I was before the trip or before the earthquake. I don’t want to be. I want to be healed but only to the point of His choosing.

REFLECTION:

In what direction is God tipping you?

How do you respond to disagreeable moments in your life?

What are you prone to do when a door appears closed to you?

Thank you for journeying with me,

Kinita

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

Lean On Me

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“Lean on me, when you’re not strong. I’ll be your friend, I’ll help you carry on”.

 

I just love that song called “Lean On Me”. The original version is by Bill Withers back in the 60’s. There have been several artists that have used their style to re-make the song. When it comes on the radio, it is not uncommon for me to turn up the volume and sing-out-loud to my hearts delight. Sometimes to the embarrassment of my children.

 

“Lean on me…”, have you ever needed someone to lean on? I don’t mean in the physical sense because you were going to fall over. I mean, when you are going through some really rough stuff, or just doing life and need a little extra support, you look for someone to lean on because you just don’t want to go it alone. Teenagers today might use “BFF” (Best Friends Forever) to describe that kind of person. However, for some of us that are just a tad-bit-older, our journey of life has changed who those people might be. Maybe you have made that promise to someone but didn’t follow through with it when they needed you the most?

 

“…when you’re not strong”. Ever felt that way? I have, too many times to recount. Maybe you are there now. Not feeling strong like you usually are, maybe even feeling like you are loosing your footing in the situation you find yourself in. Maybe weak in the physical sense and you need to ask for help or feeling depleted emotionally from the many challenges in your journey. Do you ask to lean on someone during this time or do you choose to go it alone? What do you do when you aren’t feeling strong? Who or what do you lean on? Let me assure you, it is not a weakness to lose strength. It is an opportunity for us to see Jesus more clearly. “The friend that sticks closer than a brother” (Proverbs 17:17).

 

“…I’ll be your friend”. Sounds like a promise to me. Sadly, so many of us have had that kind of promise broken WAY too many times. All too often in my journey, “I’ll be your friend” has been followed up by “if and when” statements. In those situations, when I needed to lean on that person, they would fall over because they weren’t able to “handle” what I shared with them.

 

As I write this piece, I am sitting in the living room of some dear friends that have walked with us for the past twenty years. They have prayed for us, listened to us, never judged or criticized us. They have journeyed with us through thick and thin. They are truth-tellers and Jesus-lovers that have learned from their own experiences and strengthened us in our time of weakness.

When we don’t feel strong, we need our friends to stand by us. We were created for relationships. In my weakness, I need someone stronger. I need them to stand by me. Have you been that friend? Have you needed someone to keep that promise on your journey?

 

“…I’ll help you carry on”. That friend helps us get through the day. Get through the trial. They stay with us to the end. You go from surviving to thriving. Or maybe you just stay in survival mode and don’t end up crashing and burning. In my journey, through the pain and rejection I have experienced over the years, Jesus truly has been that friend that has helped me carry on. In those times where I wanted to quit and walk away, He would show up and lift me up over the next hurdle. Over the next challenge. He is my helper. He is my refuge and my strength (Psalm 46).

 

Well, whatever your situation and experience has been when you have chosen to acknowledge your weakness and then lean into someone, there is One who will NEVER fall over when you lean into Him.

His name is JESUS!!!

Firmly planted in His Father’s Hand and Will. Immovable, unshakeable, firm and in Truth.

Pursuing us and drawing us to Himself.

He wants us to lean on Him, He will not disappoint.

You might feel disappointed at times but I wonder if it is because He isn’t answering your prayer the way you want. Have hope, because He ALWAYS wants better for you.

“When we are weak, He is strong” (2 Corinthians 12:10).

He wants us to keep coming to Him. To keep leaning on Him.

“Lean not on your own understanding, acknowledge Him in all your ways and He will make your paths straight”. (Proverbs 3:5-6)

 

Maybe you are a follower of Christ and are feeling weak. I encourage you to find an older woman or man (depending on your gender) to walk with you in a mentoring relationship. Pray for God to lead you to someone who He has been growing and strengthening. Someone that you could lean on and draw from, because they are leaning on Jesus and drawing from Him.

 

Maybe you know someone who needs a friend like that. I encourage you take that next step and reach out to them.

 

God has created us to be in relationship. First with Him and then with each other. Whatever side of that relationship you are on, my prayer for you is that you would discover Jesus on your journey and that His love for you is everlasting and He will NEVER break His promises to you.

What is your friendship style and how is God using you to impact someone’s story?

 

Thank you for joining me on this journey.

Kinita

 

Stay In Your Lane

IMG_0847(the man in the left truck seems to be motioning the man in the other truck to “stay in his lane”.  Chitwan, Nepal, 2014)

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I love writing. Years ago if you would have asked me if I did, the answer would have probably been “no”. But now, decades after graduating from college I reflect on the experiences the Lord has given me and I find great inspiration to write about them. From friendships to marriage to parenting to ministry, there has been so much to learn about and so much to write about, as the Lord leads.

To use a driving / car racing analogy, in my life the Holy Spirit has been the “pace” car. I haven’t always followed His lead very well. In fact, during my young adult years, I would go ahead of Him and then reap the consequences of my actions. I would lose my direction, allowing fear and anxiety to set in. I learned that life is not a circle (like a track) where we are free to go ahead of the “pace” car and still successfully arrive at the finish line. The track of life is open-ended. I learned through my struggles of competition, misappropriated anger, disappointments, health issues, difficult children etc., that I needed a pace car. I needed Jesus.

What locked it in for me was a prayer that my pastor taught us at church. Not only did he share it with us, he was living it as well. The prayer was this, “Lord help me to listen to and obey the promptings of the Holy Spirit”. I wrote it on a 3×5 card and put it on my nightstand so I would see it as the last thing at night and the first thing in the morning. Over time, by the work of the Holy Spirit in my life, I surrendered.

I could see a change in my heart, my choices, my pace, my desires, and my longings. More importantly, my husband and those close to me saw a change and a growth in me. I wanted what God wanted for me, I chose to go at His pace. I longed for my heart to break with the same things that broke His heart. I longed to serve Him with all of me. My desires became about Him and not about me. I learned how to get out of the way and let Him lead. I have a ways to go, but these days, my response to His leading is much quicker.

We have so many choices in life. So many “lanes” to travel in. But God calls us to live in the lane that is specific for each of us. Some would refer to it as “our calling”.

My calling is my responsibility. Your calling is yours. I can’t enter your lane until you have given me permission. You can’t enter into mine for the same reason. You can’t tell me how to parent my children, you can only encourage me on the journey. Don’t get me wrong, suggestions are great, when invited. I can’t tell you how to lead your ministry if you are the worship leader, but I can certainly encourage you in your role.

The Bible teaches about “walking with one another”. We need to do that. It doesn’t tell us to go around telling people what to do. By now you might be saying, “you are telling us what to do!”  Yes, because by choosing to read this blog post you have invited me into your journey.

Since we each have our own lane or calling, whatever you would prefer to use, God wants to join us in that lane. God has called you to something. Jesus wants to be your “pace” car, your guide and example. He gives us the Holy Spirit as our companion for the journey.

Just like I have been hoping you would join me on this journey of my love for writing, He is waiting for you to invite Him into your lane.

Your life is your race, not someone else’s.

Will you choose to continue and finish the race set before you with a pace car that will always remain ahead of you? Or will you choose to keep your eyes on someone else’s journey with the desire to be like them?

Stay in YOUR lane.

Be YOURself in the journey.

Keep YOURself connected to Jesus!!

Thank you for joining me on my journey.

Kinita