Sunday, November 20, 2016

Peace, Be Still

Dear friends,

I have to admit that my mind has been a whir lately, so this is going to be more of a reflective post. Watching the political struggles in my homeland has been disheartening and disconcerting. To-do lists seem endless. Balance is an elusive thing. But there have been some wonderful moments too, like getting together with my small group girls. My piano class is making some exciting progress on their ensemble pieces. They are improvising left and right, and grasping the style of their solos. Last night I was privileged to perform with my colleagues in the Performing Arts Department in our annual Faculty Recital. Today I was a guest at a baby's 1st birthday party. I'm grateful for these things.

And there have been some unplanned moments of quiet that have restored part of my spirit. Please allow me to share a moment from the other day with you: 

Something about it felt different. After I finished teaching during 1st period, sunlight was beginning to seep through my classroom window. It was a welcome sight after so many days of rain and clouds. 
“I have so much to do, there are piles of papers and music on my desk to deal with…and yet…I need more coffee.” 
So I made myself another cup of coffee and headed outside. The clouds were in process of revealing a beautiful blue sky beyond them, and chilly golden sunlight lit up the golden shades of autumn as only it can do. So I went and stood by the creek for a while, breathing in the fresh crisp air, filling my ears with the sound of gentle waters, my eyes with gold and orange, and my heart with gratitude and the power to continue. I lift up my eyes to the hills, knowing that my help, my will to live, my every breath, comes from the Lord, Maker of Heaven and earth, Lover of my soul. Although I would have loved to capture the beauty of the day in a picture, my heart needed that brief bit of quiet time more than my camera lens did. Do I struggle to spend time with Him? How often do I choose to deprive myself of necessary margin? And yet His mercies toward me are new every morning, and His faithfulness endures. How thankful I am for the gift of quiet that He gave when I didn't even realize I needed it. My very own "Peace, be still" moment. 

No matter what happens in the course of a day, may our hearts be at rest, knowing all things fall under the dominion of our Almighty King. May take our burdens, from the largest to the smallest, to Him, leaving them there. For some reason, I often feel that there must be some burdens that I actually can handle on my own, but the reality is that He asks for all of them. How willingly do we place them in the hands of a loving, all-powerful God?

And He awoke and rebuked the wind, and said to the sea, "Peace! Be still!" And the wind ceased, and there was a great calm. He said to them, "Why are you so afraid? Have you still no faith?" And they were filled with great fear and said to one another, "Who then is this, that even the wind and the sea obey Him?" 

May we be aware and looking for God's work in our lives and the lives of those around us. And may we trust Him even when it is difficult to see. Peace, be still.

Sunday, October 23, 2016

So, How is Germany?

Happy October! We are in the midst of a beautiful Autumn season here, full of the lovely colors of changing foliage. This month has been jam-packed full of life and happenings! This update is my attempt to summarize all that has happened.

One question that I hear frequently when I talk to friends and family is "How's Germany?" Well, Germany (and some other places) has been pretty exciting lately... Three weeks ago, I was privileged to travel with the senior class and a group of adult sponsors on the senior trip to Italy. We are very fortunate to be able to tour such a beautiful country! Every day we saw something exceptional and unique. The educational and social value of seeing and experiencing things that so many of us grew up only reading about in textbooks is immense. Only when you walk through the Colosseum do you really begin to understand how huge it is and how much happened in that place. As amazing as it was to get to see the Pantheon and St. Peter's Basilica in Rome, the Duomo in Florence, and to wander Venice, it was even more amazing to get to spend that time with the class of 2017, sharing life and laughter. Experiences are shaped by those with whom you share them. As we walked to the different sites, rode buses, or sat and enjoyed coffee, it was all woven together by conversation. With the different schedule that traveling affords, I was able to have conversations with students that a school schedule doesn't always accommodate for. I was also privileged to get to share part of my journey with Christ with the class one evening. Since the beginning of the school year, I had been praying for an opportunity to do this in some setting, and it was a huge blessing to get to be vulnerable with this class. They listened well, and even laughed at my attempts to be humorous. :) We ended the trip with a concert of Vivaldi (and other composers) in Venice. I personally really enjoyed getting to guide our students through the concert experience, showing them when to applaud, and helping them appreciate the value of what they were hearing. I wish that I could take you all through every crazy twist and turn of the trip, but suffice it to say that I was thankful to once again be home in Kandern. If you want to hear more stories, please email or message me!
With the weeks leading up to the trip being filled with preparations, I finally feel that I can now settle into somewhat of a routine. The year is flying by already, and there is so much left to do. I missed working with my classes and private students, and it has been great to be back with them again. My piano class is working towards a performance where they will perform several pieces for three pianos.  Music Appreciation is exploring the classical era. They did some composer research over the weekend, and I'm eagerly awaiting hearing about their findings tomorrow!

One of the aspects of this year I'm enjoying the most is spending time with my small group. They're a remarkable group of young women that all have a zest for life and an eagerness to talk things over. Sometimes Heather, my co-leader, and I have a hard time keeping up! Please pray for these young women as they contemplate their futures and trust God for what is ahead.

One last thing...I was privileged to participate in BFA's first-ever Facebook live open house. We have several dedicated recruiters who spend their days contacting prospective future employees, and traveling to various churches and college campuses. The live open house was an interview conducted live on Facebook with various BFA staff, giving viewers a window into the cross-cultural world of BFA. If you are interested in viewing the recorded video of the event, you can watch it here in full on the Black Forest Academy Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/blackforestacademy/?fref=ts

As always, thank you so much for your prayerful and financial support and encouragement! It is such a privilege to work and serve here, where God has called me. I am in awe of the work God is doing, and it gives me such peace to know that He is at work in many other ways that I am not able to see...yet. Please pray that I will stay sensitive to His leading and guidance, and that He will love others through me!

Please enjoy some snapshots of the senior trip below!


St. Paul's church - a beautiful edifice
At the Colosseum with the lovely ladies in my small group!

St. Mark's in Venice with Jo and Ellen, co-sponsors and great friends!

Fancy dinner at the hotel with some delicious food!

The Pantheon at night



Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Two Weeks Down...

The last weeks have been full of new beginnings and activities. We have now completed our first two weeks of classes and the days have gotten busy! Let me fill you in on what a day can look like right now:

I try to get to school by 8:15am so I have time to get some coffee in my system before my 1st period class comes in. I have a small section of Piano 2 during this time, so it's a really nice, gentle start to the day. They're there because they want to be, and they are eager to learn and grow. Each one has voiced specifically how they would like to grow this semester, and they are well on their way to meeting their goals. Class time involves a short warm-up time (because fingers take a while to wake up!), group improvisation, sight-reading, time to check individual process on the pieces they're learning, and discovering other topics, such as chords, scale and arpeggio fingerings, and many other things. I'm always a little sad when the bell rings to end this class.

Now I don't have a class again until 6th period, but I have plenty to do in the mean time. I spend the next hour or so planning for the next few days of class and working ahead on my substitute plans. My desk is located in my classroom, so as other classes file in and out, I enjoy some smiles and small talk with students. The senior trip to Italy is FAST approaching, and I have a lot of tasks and communication to do. We have a great advisor guiding us, and I have a great team of sponsors are working hard to make sure this trip is fantastic! I might also have a meeting with a colleague to talk about repertoire for our students, or to plan for an upcoming event. Normally I end up having lots of conversations and getting lots of smaller tasks done during this time. I also have a bunch of private piano lessons I'll be teaching during this time. By next week all of those will have started. I love when my students come in excited about their music! 

Then before I know it, the bell is ringing for lunch time, and it's time to sit down with any number of people. For the next couple weeks, I'll have a lunch meeting once a week with the seniors to talk about details they need to know for their trip. Other days I'll meet with students individually, meet with my sponsor team, or the senior class officers. 

5th period usually lands after lunch, which can mean that it's time for a department meeting or another lesson. Department meetings are always lively and interesting, as only a gathering of 8 artists and musicians can be. We enjoy each other's company, but can get a lot done when necessary! More than anything, these people are passionate about their students and the arts. Thoroughly encouraging and inspiring to be around! 

As soon as the bell rings, I'm on my feet getting ready for Music Appreciation, which is coming in the door at the moment. This is also a small group, and they tend to be a little sleepy when they arrive. It is after lunch during the "sleepy time" of the afternoon. Currently we are discussing early music, which might not be their favorite, but a couple of the students are taking AP European History so they have lots of historical background to draw on and share. It really enriches our class discussions. 

After my Music Appreciation students have left, I'm in a bit of a dilemma because I've usually thought of a whole slew of things to do, but I also really need to practice the piano! Every day is different, so some days I stay task-oriented, and others I practice. Everything gets done eventually! I'm so thankful to have a job that allows for time to perfect my art as well as have a vital ministry with teens. 

After school is also different every day. Some days I and another friend meet with our senior girls' small group. Other days I go to a small group in a town not too far away. Still others I'll be helping out at Sonne, the dorm where I used to work. 

So if you made it through the long description of my day, you've gotten a taste of what daily life can be like here. Trust me, it's much more exciting in person! I hope that it's clear that I love my job, the people I work with and the students I get to teach. It's truly a privilege to be here, and I'm very hopeful about all that this year holds. I have many more thoughts rolling around in my head to share, but I'll save those for another day. For now, please accept my humble thanks for all of your financial and prayer support. I couldn't do it without you! May God bless you for your selflessness. 

Please pray:
1. That my own walk with Christ will grow greatly this year!
2. For wisdom as I teach and meet with students; that my words will come from Him.
3. That I will learn to love others like He does and be His hands and feet to those around me.

Praise God:
1. For another year of ministry in Germany.
2. For a great start to the year.
3. For strength and stamina to do all that I need to do.



Monday, August 29, 2016

Reflections on the end of Summer


"I've learned that God's timing is perfect, He knows in advance the who, what and when of every situation; I can't plan God's actions for Him." - Csehy Counselor

Dear Readers,

For the last month or so, I've been processing and pondering. How to sum up one of the fullest summers of my life thus far? Some words that come to mind are intensity, joy, longing, and most of all peace. It is my deep privilege to serve at the Csehy Summer School of Music, helping to lead the team of counselors, and contributing to life there in any way necessary. More than ever before, this year I was asked by my colleagues and friends at Black Forest Academy, "WHY, after a busy school year, would you choose to spend your summer at CAMP??" While Csehy has been part of my life since I was thirteen,  in my adult life I have pondered this question myself. But, as with anything in life, when God's calling is evident, one simply must obey. This summer was full of many things, and I find myself mulling over the contrasts. We watched those among us walk through deep loss and family hardship, while others basked in the joy of great spiritual growth. At times I missed people so much my heart ached, and yet I also experienced the joys of the deep community in unexpected ways. I felt so inexperienced, and yet enjoyed the knowledge (and dare I say, wisdom?) that comes with knowing an organization well for a long time. I was unable to participate much in the musical aspect of camp, and yet being able to sit and just listen refreshed my soul. I think I have felt this contrast most within our team of counselors. There are so many details and difficulties to be sorted through and prayed over. We have wept together, prayed together and rejoiced together. (They also throw a great surprise birthday party!) When we sat down for our first session of counselor training, I couldn't help but wonder what joys and sorrows we would walk through together, and what God would do through all of it.  There is beauty in the contrast because it broadens and deepens our comprehension of Him - God is at work in ways I cannot see and is not dependent on my knowledge of His ways. Praise be.

After such a busy camp season, I was so grateful to spend some time away with my family. Having everyone together is becoming a rare occurrence, and we jump at any opportunity to make it happen! I love my siblings in any combination, but all of them at once is pretty fantastic!

I am currently back in Germany busily preparing for the start of another school year. It has been so good to be back in Kandern, spending time with friends who have become so dear over the last several years. The year ahead holds many exciting things, which I look forward to sharing with you as they happen! By Tuesday evening all of our students will have arrived, and Wednesday morning starts with opening assemblies and ends with a flurry of activity. Thursday and Friday are our first full days of classes. This year I will be teaching both Piano 1 and Piano 2, as well as Music Appreciation. If you had told me 3 or 4 years ago that I would love teaching group piano or music history, or even private lessons as much as I do now, I never would have believed you. Again, God is at work in ways I cannot see, and is not dependent on my knowledge of His ways. He knows better than I do. What can I do but trust Him? Please pray that He will draw my heart closer and closer to His, and that I will be His hands and feet to our students and staff. Pray for openness and tenderness to Him in the hearts of our students, and pray for words and wisdom as I encounter opportunities to speak into their lives.

These thoughts are in no way perfect, and I'm sure as soon as I post, I will think of many more things to be shared. For now, I'm simply grateful for God's calling, and the way He confirms that in my mind and heart. I'm grateful for my financial and prayer supporters who give and pray so faithfully! Thank you for your selflessness!

There are auditions to be heard and lessons to plan, my friends, and I must get some sleep. Much more to share later.

May the Lord bless you and keep you,

Lauren




Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Catching Up to the End

Dear Friend,

My heart is so very full! This last month and a half has been filled with many events and opportunities. Mid-April held our annual Music Festival, so after spring break my schedule centered around teaching and playing for as many string and voice lessons as possible. So many great opportunities to work with fantastic students. There were a few days in which I played for 10 lessons. That may not sound like much, but I also maintained a normal teaching schedule of both piano classes and private lessons. It was a very busy season, but it was also very fulfilling as well. I loved getting to be a 'fly on the wall' as the students learned and grew. Music Festival week was a full one. In addition to playing for all of our string players and singers, I also had piano students participate. As I observed the adjudicator working with them, it was gratifying to hear him tell them things I had told them, as well as pick up some new teaching ideas myself!

I think I have mentioned before that I'm a junior class sponsor. During the weeks leading up to MF I was also involved with helping our junior class plan the school's Junior-Senior Banquet. Each year the junior class, headed by their sponsors, plans this event to honor and say good-bye to the senior class. I helped head up the committee in charge of decorations. To be honest, I feel as though I've completed some kind of initiation - this experience was a new and intimidating one. However, it was a time full of teaching moments, helping the juniors delegate, and enabling their ideas.
(side note: If you have been around Emmanuel or Pilgrim for a while, you'll understand when I say that I have a new appreciation for Mrs. Reynolds and the vision she used to cast with the Formal!) 
In the end, although it was exhausting, it was also fulfilling. Walking around the room, taking in its transformation, we were able to help the juniors take ownership of a wonderful event, and allow the seniors to feel honored and loved. God answered so much prayer in the process, and I was again reminded of the care He takes of both the big and little things. From the way He held off the rain EVERY time we had to load or unload decorations from a vehicle, to providing unexpected time to set up the venue, to the great attitudes held by everyone, He was at work in every detail. "He leads me by still waters, He restores my soul," even in the midst of planning an event like this!
 Enjoy some pictures below!

Now that Music Festival and JSB are over, normal busy schedules continue. I continue to help lead a small group of girls, and would appreciate continued prayer for them. They have bonded so much as a group, and some great friendships are forming. Many of them are walking into some big changes in their senior year, whether in their families, dorm situations, or contemplating the future. Please pray that God would draw each one close to His heart.

We are a little more than 2 weeks away from graduation, and in 3 weeks I'll be flying to the US to serve at Csehy Summer School of Music for a good portion of the summer. My time in NJ will be pretty limited, but I look forward to seeing as many people there as possible! Please pray for me and everyone else at BFA as we push to finish the year well. It has been a busy year, and we are tired, as teachers tend to be at the end of a school year. It has been a year full of blessing, lessons learned, and growth. This graduation is more bittersweet than some others because 3 of the students graduating were freshmen during my last year as an RA. They have grown into amazing young men, and I'll miss their smiles next year!

From the bottom of my heart, I want to thank all of you who support me in prayer and financially. God has enabled so much to happen because of your partnership with me and this ministry. I think of you often, and pray that God will bless you richly for the sacrifice and intercession you make on my behalf. I do plan to return to BFA in August, Lord willing, and to continue to walk in His will for me here.

If you would like to hear any more stories or more details, or have questions about life in Germany or future plans, please feel free to email me at: lauren.holland@bfacademy.de

"As Time Goes By" - a collage of clocks to go with our theme

Tables included baby pictures of the seniors :)

Isaak is one of the most amazing students I know. He was a freshman when he and his family moved to Germany and Sonne, and God is doing absolutely stunning things in his life!

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

There's a First Time for Everything

"When's the last time you did something for the first time?" #keeplearning

This question appeared on my Facebook newsfeed, posted by a friend (thanks Dan Davis!). It was so cool to see various responses, and of course I wanted to chime in! However, I have to admit that after thinking about it most of the day, twelve hours after seeing the post I finally came up with what felt like a decent answer. The challenge is that although so much in my day doesn't feel new, so many emotions that are associated with a first experience occur throughout my day. So why is this the case, and why am I bothering to blog about it? Well friends, to answer the second question first, I feel that this may give you a bit of a window into what goes on in the mind of a missionary, and it may help you to see just how human we really are.

So why that 'first' feeling, and why doesn't it go away?

This question would pop across my mind frequently through the first year here, quickly followed by "I can't wait to NOT be the new girl, and to be out of this learning curve!" (side note: to those of you who knew me then, THANK YOU for your patience with me. You are the reason I didn't tank during those hours.) However, now, in April 2016 roughly 5 years later, those thoughts still appear. They may take different forms, but they are there. Please understand, that so much about living here has become less daunting. I know how to grocery shop, I can drive a stick-shift vehicle, and I can converse basically with the shopkeepers in town. However, there are days. Like yesterday. After conquering the proverbial world of my classroom, I ventured out, and strode towards town to make an appointment for a hair cut. As I got close, I realized that the place was crowded, felt distinctly how tired my brain was, and oh no, I have to make an appointment in German! Words, words, what were those words again?!? Ladies and gentlemen, I turned around and promptly walked home. I'm not proud. I felt so new in a place that felt so familiar. Not fun. Now, before you write me off, pull your support, and call BFA asking them to send this cowardly missionary home, let me explain. Although I live and work in Germany, I am not German. In heritage, somewhat, but in cultural orientation I am more of a chameleon, desperately trying to blend in with a place I am endeavoring to understand. Although my Deutsch is conversational, I don't understand all the little nuances and non-verbals that come from being born into and raised here. I'm learning more every day, but these kinds of things take years. While I hope to get there someday, right now I'm at about toddler level.

So while, no I am not new. these experiences and thoughts still occur. I am endeavoring to better my Deutsch, and each day this country becomes more and more of a home. I love my job. I love my students and colleagues, and I am grateful to feel that way. The truth is that no matter how I feel about it, God has proved His presence in all of it. He is there in the difficult interactions and the moments when I feel so insufficient. He is there in the victories, big and small. He is good and He is with me.

Sunday, March 13, 2016

BFA is...and an Update

Greetings friends and family! I have been itching to get a post up, as it feels as though it has been forever! Tonight I arrived home from the 2nd full day of a conference we are hosting at the school, and though my brain is fried I just KNEW I had to write. There is so much going on that I want to tell you about! Approximately a week and a half ago I was privileged to be part of our annual faculty recital. As much fun as it is to learn a piece to perform solo, I particularly enjoyed collaborating with my colleagues, playing for a violist friend and having immense amounts of fun squeezing no less than four pianists at one piano for a piece titled Galop-march. As much fun as we do have, we also take our performing seriously, as this is something we try to model well for our students.

The day after the recital, the entire high school once again headed off to Switzerland for a weekend away on retreat. Challenges from the Word and deep times of worship were among the highlights. My small group spent the entire time together. We had some great conversations about life and Godliness that my [amazing] co-leader Heather and I are looking forward to continuing in the future!
School picked up as usual on Monday morning, albeit with many sleepy students and teachers. The week flew by, and as the last bell of the day rang on Thursday, the students departed for all points of the globe. Please pray for our many students who will continue to travel throughout the break on M-trips and with their families!

Today, you find me in the midst of the International Christian Educator's Conference, and though my brain is weary, my heart is full! I am inspired by teachers who are working faithfully in spite of many difficult situations, and with far fewer resources than are considered to be the norm. What incredible things God is doing around the world! Friends, we live in a broken, fallen, sin-sick world. But God has never once left us alone or relinquished His sovereignty. He is moving even when we cannot see it. May we never doubt simply because we are not privy to His moving. I am thrilled to be part of what He is doing here, and am ridiculously thankful for all of YOU, my partners in ministry. You are part of His work as well. Thank you for following His lead and giving to His work!

On a slightly different note, last week I asked some of my students and colleagues to finish three phrases that will help give you some insight into life here. Keep in mind that the answers are strongly influenced by all of the different places they have lived. I've done some editing and have tried to clarify some things, so look for the italics.

 Here are the questions and their answers:

1. Black Forest Academy is...
2. The weirdest thing about living in Germany is...
3. The most interesting thing about living in Germany is...

Black Forest Academy is...

  • Loving 
  • Diverse
  • Chaotic
  • A place where you have the chance to get to know your classmates.
  • Stopping for Spring Break!!! - teachers and students get excited about this one :)
  • 60 years old this year.
  • Temporary [or can feel that way because everybody leaves]
  • Unique
  • Different [kind of community] 
  • "Unlike any other school I've ever been to" (this student has attended school in at least three countries)

The weirdest thing about living in Germany...

  • That you can get fined for not picking up after your dog 
  • There are 5 different trash cans and if you get it wrong, they scold you! We sort our trash - seriously! 
  • The Gelbe, pronounced gelb-uh, sack ( I don't get why it's there!) 
    • *note: this is a yellow bag used to recycle packaging, plastics, etc. 
  • I can take home my prescription from the Apotheke without paying because they know me and trust me to come back to pay tomorrow. (teacher)
  • Everyone abides by the rules 
  • People are very direct
  • There are a lot of old people (there are two nursing homes in Kandern)
  • No one speaks English!
  • The shops all close really early and everything is shut on Sundays. 
  • The people - student says: I'm not trying to sound mean, they're just really different! 

The most interesting thing about living in Germany is...

  • The value the Germans place on nature.
  • The community here is a lot different. It's a small town community, everyone knows everyone. 
  • It's pretty! the houses are pretty and boxy!
  • Than an accordion orchestra is a thing. In a 20 kilometer radius there are 10-12 accordion orchestra that have been together over 30 years, one for 80! 
  • It is very natural and beautiful, and there is nature to explore. There's actually grass and countryside. This was not the case where this individual lived previously.
I sincerely hope that you enjoyed reading their answers as much as I did! I love the students here, and  I hope to ask more questions so you can hear from even more of them. 

In closing, I have a few items for praise and prayer:

Praise:
1. That our conference is going well! 
2. That we made it to Spring break!
3. That God continues to provide in ways that only He can.

Please pray with me:
1. That the conference will end well.
2. That students and staff will rest and return to school refreshed at the end of break.
3. That God will continue to provide financial and prayer support.

Once again, thank you for partnering with me both financially and in prayer! Thank you for reading, and thank you for caring. 

Blessings,

Lauren

Saturday, January 16, 2016

Looking Ahead

Dear Reader,

I wish that you could come spend time in my cozy living room at this moment. My house is so warm and inviting, I just made coffee (thank you Carolyn and Jimmy for the Beehouse! It has changed my life), and it's quietly snowing outside. One step out of my door and I think I'm living in fairy land :)  What a week this has been! Monday marked the first day of classes, post-Christmas. Seeing the students again was great, although they weren't so excited to be back in class. We have one more day of class, then four days of exams, and then at last we get to start a whole new semester. I'm anticipating a lot of things in the coming weeks, including more piano class students, even more private lessons tackling challenging repertoire, and playing the piano to perform and accompany more than ever. I'm also looking forward to sweet times with my small group girls - they make me laugh!

That being said, I'm sad to end this term with the students I've been privileged to teach. In both Piano 2 and Music Appreciation, the students I get to interact with a bright and eager to tackle whatever I put before them. Piano 2 is just about ready to give a final performance and presentation, and Music Appreciation is talking brilliantly about music from Bach to Brahms to Schoenberg. The amount of growth that can happen in four months never ceases to amaze me.  I'm inspired by their perspectives, determination, and steady work ethic, and I learn from the way they think. Thanks, guys for an amazing semester!

Most of all, I want to dive deeper into the Word. In order to love well, I need to remain close to the One Who loves me. The reality that God is always at work, in and around me, has been made very clear to me in the last month or so. He continues to manifest Himself in conversations, relationships, and quiet time delving into His Word and talking to Him. I am so quick to believe things that are not true, in spite of the command to "think on things that are true."  So much is changing in the world. Each day, new unfamiliar faces appear in Kandern. Some are passing through, some stay. All are seeking refuge. Many people from our community are involved efforts that reach out to refugees. It is easy to hide behind my fear. But I am not called to fear. We are to be strong and courageous. We cannot always choose who we encounter in a day, but we can choose to love them and show them Christ. What are we to do in a world where change, fear, and so many other unknowns are facts of life? I would ask, on what are we allowing our minds to dwell? Where do our thoughts go while we are walking or driving through our busy lives? Dear friends, God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power, love and a sound mind (2 Tim. 1:7). Fear brings insecurity, rather than trust in the reality of God's sovereignty. But when I continually recall to my mind the truth that God is bigger, stronger, and more powerful than any of the chaos in me and around me, my heart becomes fixed on Him. He is our Rock, our Shield, our Defender, our Stronghold. The Lord is on my side, I will not fear. What can man do to me? (Psalm 118:6). May we not walk in fear, but with confidence in the One Who holds all things in His hands.

Thank you for checking in and allowing me to share my thoughts with you! I am so grateful for so many of you who are faithfully partnering with me in prayer and financial support. May God bless you richly for your help and love in my ministry here at BFA!

Blessings,

Lauren