Monday, September 29, 2014

Fulfilling, Completing, Perfecting

Six months ago, I thought that I had this school year (and the following ones) figured out. However, our best laid plans are not always identical to the plans that God has for us. I am thankful for everything that the last year has held, and I am thankful to be where I am. In just under two months, God has brought in 50% of my support, which is amazing!! This is a huge hurdle to be past, and I know that now that I'm past the halfway point, excitement continues to build. There is still a huge need to be met and I am still praying for 14-15 people to commit to $100 per month. If you would like to partner with me and help to meet this need, click here: Click here to help support Lauren

I've referred to Psalm 138:8a before, but this verse has been on my heart often lately and I wanted to mention it once more. "The Lord will fulfill His purpose for me. Your steadfast love, O Lord, endures forever." The word "fulfill" can also be translated "complete" or "Perfect." As I wait and pray and seek God's will for each day, He brings people, conversations, and times with Him that continue to change me from the inside out. My prayer during this time of waiting is that He will equip me to be able to hit the ground running when I arrive in Germany. He alone knows what awaits me around the next bend in the road, and He alone can equip me for whatever may come. He is so faithful! Whether or not the following year looks anything like I think it could, I know that God is sovereign and His way is best. How great is He and how faithful!


Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Remembering God's Faithfulness

There's great power in memory, no? Through memory, we re-live, reminisce, keep alive, learn, grow, change. Some of us live in fear of forgetting, because we fear if we forget, we run the risk of leaving behind part of who we are. Memory motivates us to action. Like many people, I enjoy a good ramble down memory lane, and I try to retrace those steps regularly. I've been doing a lot of remembering lately, and reading through blogs and journal entries from before I went to Germany the first time, in the fall of 2010. As I write today, I find myself in a similar situation to when I first began to write about "Simply Trusting." Today, as then, I have a great financial need to be met before I am able to depart for Germany. Today, as then, I have seen God meet a large part of that need through His people. Today, as then, I am hopeful and confident that He will complete the work that He started, not only financially, but in my life longterm. Today, I have the richness of friendships and experiences to remind me why I so strongly desire to return.
Over the weekend, I discovered that my monthly supporters had nearly doubled! So for those who are giving and those who are praying, let me say thank you, for not only responding to my need, but for allowing God to move and work through you.

So reminisce with me, and let me share with you a brief excerpt from one of my very first posts in September of 2010:
"For now, I am trying just to keep things in perspective, both long-term and short-term. My long-term goal (obviously) is to get to Germany, in God's time. Short-term involves following in faith, daily.  I am coming to appreciate the vital importance of immersing oneself daily in the Word, and having done that, meditating on what I've read throughout the day. Short-term also involves doing the next right thing, i.e. sending support letters, addressing envelopes, talking to churches, and talking to potential supporters. My prayer is that people will see this as an opportunity to partner with the work God is doing at and through BFA...Please pray with me that many will want to be involved, and also that I will not worry, but instead learn to trust God in an even greater way!"  

"And my God shall supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus."                   Philippians 4:19

If you would like to be part of meeting this need, please click here: Partner with me!

Monday, September 15, 2014

Always the Same

Over the last few weeks I have received much encouragement, from both sides of the ocean. Many friends have joined my team of ministry partners, and I can't thank you enough!! I wanted to share a couple of thoughts with you today. First from my time in the Word just this morning, in Psalm 81:10, "I am the Lord your God, Who brought you up out of the land of Egypt. Open your mouth wide, and I will fill it." This verse follows a retelling of the deliverance of Israel from captivity. God has been faithful to them and He reminds them here that He is faithful, and that He is who He says He is. How can you hesitate to trust a God like that? So often I am guilty of a Pinterest-like Christianity. I hear something that resonates with me about Who God is or what He asks of me at church or Bible study, and with the best of intentions, I file it away for later. I continue living a walk that does not put that belief into practice. This weekend I have been under intense conviction over doubt, and failing to act when I have clearly been asked to trust and to act in the confidence of my calling. God has called me, so what is there to doubt. Giving in to doubt because God hasn't supplied my need the way I might think He should is not an option. He is faithful, He loves me and He knows how great my needs are. If you are familiar with my story, you will recall that last time I served in Germany, God provided financial support for me in incredible ways, and through some of you! "Open your mouth wide, and I will fill it." Not asking for millions of dollars, a huge home or designer clothes, but simply trusting that God will provide as He has in the past. Because He never changes.

Second, I want to pass along the following statements to you. These have appeared on my Facebook news feed over the last week from well-wishers and prayer warriors at BFA.

"Lauren, I miss you a ton, tell your supporters that we all really want you to come as fast as possible" - Mike*, student

"Praying for God to supply the remainder! Students can't have piano lessons until you come..."           - fellow BFA teacher


"We're eagerly anticipating your arrival! (And Jon* cries in my office every day! so HURRY!)           - fellow BFA teacher     

*names changed 

With cooler temperatures here in NJ, and school in full swing at BFA, my heart is aching to return to these people and this place that I love. I am praying today for 14 people or families who will commit to partner with me for $100 per month. Would you consider being a part of the way that God supplies for me to return to BFA? To partner with me by giving, visit this link: https://give.teachbeyond.org. or email me (see below) for more information. I am so excited to see how God will continue to supply the remainder of my support! Thank you to all who have given and are giving!! I can't wait to be posting here from across the ocean and sharing all that God is doing at BFA. 

If these thoughts have impacted you in any way, please email me here: Lauren's email




Thursday, September 11, 2014

Never Forget

I have been trying all week to write, but the words have not come easily. However as I grieve with my country today, the words are finally flowing. This will not be a support update post. Look for that in a day or two. For now, remember with me.

As I sit at home in New Jersey just hours away from the site of each attack, I am listening to the names of all those who perished on that awful day, September 11, 2001. Individuals who are in some way connected to the fallen are reading the names of their own loved ones and those beloved by so many others. Most heart-rending to me are the ones reading in memory of their parents, siblings and spouses. I know where I was that day, what I thought, and the way it has changed the way that I live. But that is not important in this moment. In the face of very real grief, the qualities of those who have passed are being remembered. I can't help but wonder, if my name was on that list, what would be said of me? What words would immortalize my memory? The sacrifice was inadvertent for many of the victims. Each one started the day just like everyone else on the East Coast, unaware that it would be their last. How am I living now that would be remembered if today were my last? I know how I want to be remembered, but what impression am I leaving? If the lady filling the coffee pots at Wawa were the last person I ever spoke to, would I have left her with a kind word and a smile? If the UPS guy at our door were the last person to interact with me, would I have shown him Christ? And then there are those closest to me, who see me in all of my tattered, human glory. What would live on in their memory after all of the kind words from others had drifted away?
Titus 2:7 says, "Show yourself, in all respects, to be a model of good works and in your teaching show integrity, dignity..." Recently it was pointed out to me that this idea of being a "model of good works" is that of being a form or mold that once it makes an impression on the clay or other molding material, leaves a impression that looks like the mold. This is the kind of impression we are to be leaving on each other. I pray that the way that I live will not shape lives after Lauren, but rather that after knowing me, others will look a little more like Him.

If this is confusing to you in any way, or if you have questions about what it means to follow Christ and to have a relationship with them, please contact me. Click here for Lauren's email



Monday, September 1, 2014

Pondering Partnership

"No, you keep it. So you'll have it when you get back." - Tyler 

These words held confidence that made my heart sing. He was putting music back in my hands that I had held all summer; music for his senior recital. Tyler is cellist, and a senior at Black Forest Academy. By God's grace he believes that I will be back to accompany him.
When I first embarked on this journey into missions, I had a REALLY hard time asking people for money. Why should people give money so I could go to Europe? Through communicating with supporters as well as my organization TeachBeyond, God has changed my perspective. Please hear me when I make the following:

Giving to missions is not a one-way street. Did you get that? If not, read it again. Please.

In certain parts of the United States, we have attendants that pump gas into our cars for us. No matter how you may feel about that, it enables our vehicles to run. He puts the gas into the vehicle, we give him money, and then we drive away. The attendant does (likely) not refine and produce the fuel before it gets delivered to the station. Nor does (likely) get into our vehicle, much less get into my driver's seat. But by putting fuel into the vehicle, he plays an integral role in allowing the vehicle to run. Even though he may not ever see where the vehicle went, he played a vital part in getting it there. In a similar way, you as an individual have the opportunity to enable ministry to happen. When you partner with a missionary by giving them money, you are metaphorically linking arms with them,  helping to "fuel" the vehicle of ministry. You enable them to live in a situation in which the Word of God is taught, people are shown what it looks like to be like Christ, and training for life happens. This kind of ministry cannot happen on its own, just as a car cannot run without fuel. BFA serves many, many families around the world. The students come from many different cultures, family situations, and home environments. Regardless of how you may feel about boarding schools, these are students who God has called us to love.

Partnership is a two-way street.

Just like any other human relationship, giving one way as a ministry partner can be extremely exhausting and unfulfilling. What has been exciting this time around is to pray for support to come in, and then as people give, to continue praying specifically for them. At this point, I want to say a huge thank you to those of you who are already partnering with me. It means the world to me to have you on my team! Please know that I also partner with you in prayer as specifically as I can! *Also as a side note, if there is a way I can pray for you specifically please email me here: Lauren's email. As a missionary, I want to stay in touch with my ministry partners and supporters to the best of my ability, giving as much feedback as possible. I do my best to post pictures here and to Facebook, blog here to keep you in the loop, and communicate prayer requests through family and friends at home. Finally, as you contemplate partnership, with me or any other missionary, please do so prayerfully. For many of us, funds are limited, making giving difficult. I encourage you to lift these needs before God and to ask Him to direct you as to where He would have you give.

So my question is this: will you partner with me, and enable me to fulfill the calling God has placed on my life to love the students at BFA?
School at BFA starts tomorrow. Will you help get me there so I will miss as little of the school year as possible?

If you would like to partner with me, please click here: https://give.teachbeyond.org

I would be honored if you would partner with me. May God bless you as you consider partnership and ministry!