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Spiritual growth

Mission Accomplished: My two-week mission to Kenya

I went on my third mission trip. I’ve been back in the U.S. for a little over a week now. My body is recouping from an 8-hour time change, jet lag, and returning to work the very next morning after my arrival. I should probably be careful how I word all of the above to make sure that I don’t seem grieved by the process. Truth is, I’d do it all over again. It’s beautiful because I feel that way about every mission trip that I’ve taken. I mentioned in an earlier post that I wanted to be a missionary when I was an adolescent. The notion of it seemed so far-fetched in my own mind. God has proven that it wasn’t far-fetched in His.

This trip was comprised of a 3-city tour: Nairobi, Eldoret, and Matunda. Every area offered a different experience and required something different of me. I’m a social worker so I take things in differently. I’m huge on culture and always eager to learn how others live: the language, the decorum, the fashion, music, food, etc. Nairobi is the capital of Kenya.  That was the first destination: We were apart of several services that included day sessions in a church and open-air meets in the city. Seeing people give their lives to Christ or experiencing Him in the way that He wants to show himself never get old. Worship services were in English and Swahili. I find it so awesome and intriguing how the Holy Spirit transcends language differences and barriers. The children (one of my favorite parts of every trip) were full of laughter, life, and contentment. I’m often provoked to reassess my own gratitude after seeing people who live less fortunate than myself live with contentment and focus on the Kingdom.

The next stop was Matunda. We stayed in a village called Soysambu. There was another school there that had over 200 students. They were lively and eager to mingle. It was a blessing to interact with them, ask questions, and share the love of God.

The last stop was in Eldoret. Eldoret was the conclusion of the services. We continued to show the love of God and witness His manifestation to others. It was beautiful. This trip was significant to me because of how I saw the grace of God magnified. I needed God’s grace from start-to-finish and He supplied it. We experienced delays of 10+ hours, another plane crashed that was headed to the same destination as our own, there was an explosive found at one of the airports we were in route to, we were tired and sleep deprived but by the grace and goodness of God, the mission was a success: God touched the lives of others while allowing us to be His hands and feet.

Grace and peace,
Risha

Making God's Voice the Loudest

I remember when I first began listening for the voice of God.  I was hoping for something audible. Something undeniable; the still small voice, I felt, was too easy to be confused with my own thinking. Recognizing the voice of God was often an episode for me because my mind would expand into this adventure map that led nowhere: “what if that’s just my thoughts? What if that really was God? I think that was just my mind…. But my mind wouldn’t think nothing like that. It must be God because I wasn’t even thinking about that topic! What if I’m too late? Why I am feeling sweat buds?” The conclusion was usually  “I don’t think that was God. I’m good.” Or “I’m going to need some confirmation.

At one time, it was grievous to ask a believer for advice and be advised to pray about it. *Long and dramatic eye roll* I was asking them in hopes of God speaking through them,  feeling the confirmation in my heart, and knowing what to do. There were also other factors disrupting my ability to hear from him clearly like doubt, fear, frustration, a hardened heart, and a junky spirit. My spirit would be filled with all types of garbage and it was affecting my ability to hear from God. On top of that, the enemy’s voice would be louder than God’s.

The word of God is literally just that- The WORD OF GOD. His will, direction, and ways are outlined throughout the Bible. So, I started there.  Reading God’s word gave me a better understanding of who he is and desires to be in my life as well as in the life of his people. It became easier to recognize his voice as I continued to read and retain the Bible.  It became more apparent that thoughts like doubt, fear, bitterness, and etc. were contrary to His word so they couldn’t have been from him. Thoughts that encouraged spite, wrath, or ratchetness were certainly not from him. Thoughts to be kind, show compassion, share his love and encouragement were from him. Pretty simple,

As I continue to listen and obey (present tense because this is an active process), God’s voice grows clearer. Does the enemy still speak? Heck yes! But God’s voice is the loudest. Smooth lies and half-truths are exposed when you compare them to the word.

Invest time in the word of God to become better acquainted with him. It will make a world of difference.

Beauty for Ashes: 1 Year Later

I saw a facebook memory recently.  It was a post announcing that I would be releasing my first book.  My mind “timehopped” to how I felt when I posted the cover art for the project. I was literally nauseous. Not that I find one type of nausea more enjoyable than another but, this was a terrifying feeling. I posted the cover art as a form of accountability for myself to eliminate cold feet.  From there I continued the final writing stages and I spoke to God rather frequently regarding preparing my heart and the hearts of the readers. I wouldn’t dare try to front like there wasn’t any excitement in the mix because there was some of that too.

Even as I write there are so many memories flashing that it’s hard to decide which I should describe next. I’ll begin with the process. I was writing the book towards the end of 2015 but got distracted. Once the distraction was gone I put all of my energy and focus into finishing the book.  I was done with everything around April/ Mayish. After that, I submitted it to Ms. Green and we began to talk about book sizes, the number of pages, what I would need… the “logistics,” if you will.  A while later she sent me a screenshot of the anticipated delivery date and the countdown began.  I got home from work the evening they arrived and slid my box into the house. I sat the box in my thinking chair and walked the floor for a couple of seconds. I opened it and there they were: incarnations of my vision, dreams, nightmares, and testament. I was numb-in a good kind of way. It’s like a shock wave came over me. Once I collected my thoughts, I thanked the Most High, laid hands on the box, and prayed for the readers and path of those books.

I began working on getting the pre-orders out and pubbing online.  I think my first post regarding the book was something like… “so these came in the mail today.” Not long after that I had a book launch party. I joke with myself as I look back at the pictures from that event because that was the day I forgot I had a gap. And then life resumed. My indignation was tried and hard times revisited.  Ultimately I learned that convictions are great but they only really exist when we follow through with them. I saw times that I challenged women to know their worth and couldn’t calculate my own. I found that forgiving has challenges of it’s own; I realized the idolatry was more pressing for me in other forms that sleeping. The craziest thing I learned is that every wound seems healed until it’s pressed. I have more soft spots than I knew.

Nearly 1 year later, Beauty for Ashes has been published and I’m still making trades with God… still seeking healing, still seeking growth, and still seeking his redemption.  I’ve come to see that beauty for ashes is not just a one time thing in my life. The exchange of beauty for ashes is constant. It just happens at different times for different reasons. Making a spectacle of one’s self is not easy. Transparency has its risks. Submission to God is no cake walk. But I’m here for it.  

Peace,
Risha