Sunday, November 27, 2011

hello, anyone out there?

hello, precious ones.

i have a post ready for you this week but tonight, i need something from you...

my curiosity has gotten the best of me. my stats tell me you all are from all over the world. Japan, Russia, Canada, Germany...

i want to know who you are!

give a little roll call or shout out in the comment section.

hope your week is wonderful and your heart is full.

shine on.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

beautiful things.

in the room next to me sleeps a brand new 20 year old.

the room she is sleeping in is MY room taken over by Jamie shortly after her brain surgery years ago. i live my days in there, live my nights in her room. because she just decided that she didn't like her twin bed anymore. and i might have given in.

that's what little girls named Jamie do to you...they make your head spin and shake up your life a little bit. and steal your heart in the process.

20 years ago...i waited in the waiting room for hours with my Prissy and every other residing person of Albany, GA just waiting for Jamie Leigh Laing to arrive.

20 years ago...God threw my parents a curve ball that they never could have expected.

20 years ago...He decided to show off His faithfulness and love through a tiny baby girl who would live her life proffing the doctors wrong.

i've spent these 20 years watching my parents fight for the helpless. (i think i know where i get part of it from) not just for Jamie but for every child that will walk through Dougherty County's special education program. for every child that isn't gettting what they deserve...they have fought. they've won some, lost a lot. but He has given immense favor.

i've spent these 20 years learning how to REALLY seek God. to plead my case before Him. to go to bed with tear stained pillow cases and swollen eyes. you can read about it in books or study it in school all you want to but until you watch your sister (or daughter) have seizures back to back. or have someone call them the forbidden "R" word. or hear her cry and not know what is wrong. THAT makes you realize at a VERY early age you need Him more than you ever thought possible. and i am thankful for the opportunity to realize that when i was so little.

sitting at my Granny's and hearing her explain to me one day when Jamie was really sick that if we have faith like a mustard seed, all things are possible with our God. it hits you. this isn't just some random uh-oh that happened in the labor and delivery room. this is orchestrated by her very maker. the One who made her, made her perfect.

i've spent these 20 years seeing her prove the doctors wrong. and this past year was no different. Jamie started back with occupational therapy and her strength/flexibility on her right side has grown immensely. she also can walk with her physical therapist holding onto her arm beside her. the doctors said we would NEVER see that. and look where we are.

20 years of anticipating a huge miracle that quite frankly happens daily and i hardly ever realize it. 20 years. it's hard to believe.

do you know the rates of marriage of handicap children are going down? more divorces happen in these circumstances than any other. statistics also show that siblings of disabled children have a tendency to be rebellious, do drugs, and run away.

can i get a hallelujah. if those stats don't do anything but prove how big God has been in the Laing family then...still...hallelujah.

she has excelled. loves people. is so spunky and full of life. funny. loves Cedarmont Kids. (i hate them). i think she secretly understands spanish...the girl changes her dvd's to spanish every single time. and then changes them back. and then back again to Spanish. scared of small dogs. loves to hear people scream. known as "JANIE LANE" in her class by her classmates. stealer of lunch rolls in her class. spoiled by her teacher aides. loved by every single teacher at her school. fakes crying when she wants to be a baby. still sits in my lap. stealer of my bed. nap taker. book lover. plays my daddy's piano (she got all of the musical talents, i'm telling ya). a daddy's girl all the way but a sissy's girl when daddy is at work. loves the movies...mainly for the popcorn and laughing as i spill it. calls me "day." we are still not sure where that came from.

she is beauitfully perfect. HE. MAKES. BEAUTIFUL. THINGS.

so let me just encourage you today, if life is not going like you planned...take a step back and look at the beautiful thing that He is doing. His story is way better. and perfect.

Jamie, you are so loved.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

it's been 365 days.

it's been kind of quiet on the blog front, huh?

you can even hear the grasshoppers chirp. senior year of college took over for a bit. but here i am again.

so much has happened since March when i last blogged.

my last spring semester is over. one more semester left. (insert freaking out dance here.)

my favorite professor retired. the one that i KNOW God had me there to minister to. that was one of the hardest days i have ever encountered. pouring my life out and having him not want anything to do with Jesus hurt. but oh, how He works in the coolest ways. i look forward to hearing how God will use all of this someday.

my best friend since kindergarten graduated from UGA. growing up is so exciting. and intimidating. and makes me completely rely on the story He is telling.

my application for a missionary position with Assemblies of God was processed. they are looking for placement for me at the current time. i am beyond stoked. knowing every single step of the journey is for His glory. and His fame only.

friends got married. friends got engaged. friends have began to date. it's that season of life.

numba one man in my life, baby Judah, is looking more like a little man every day. he is my favorite.

my mentor is responding to His gracious call in Brazil as i type this. i can hardly wait for her to get home.

and then there is today.

the day that has caused me to miss Peru more than words can express. i read my journal earlier today. on this very day a year ago, i saw my Zaida after 3 years.

she walked in.

i saw her face.

i ran.

she ran.

we hugged.

in an almost like Hallmark movie sequence. perfection.

she is the picture of His love to me. He saw fit for a little girl living on a different continent to be a little part of my story. for Him to use her to rock my world in ways i never dreamed of.

i didn't know her name that day in 2005. and i honestly never imagined that it would turn into my heart being for the helpless and hopeless. He has knit it together so perfectly.

i can't act like i didn't see her. that i didn't see hungry children. that i didn't see grown men begging for a morsel of food on the streets. i can't pretend that the children didn't beg me to pray for them. or that God changed my heart forever.

i will forever be thankful for Peru. and one of my biggest fears is that i won't love another country like i love that place. it is my heart. the children captured it. my heart for missions was molded in that very country, in a musty old hotel room.

365 days ago, i said goodbye to Zaida. i am not sure when i will see her again and that makes my heart ache. but it won't be long. i tend to gravitate to that place. God calls me there. and when He tells me...i am on that plane to see my girl.

i can't live for myself anymore. and God used a little girl to teach me that.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

longing for His fame.

as soon as my feet hit the floor on tuesday i knew that it was one of those days. the enemy of our souls was up to no good and was aiming for my campus. and i felt it. as soon as i drove up. as soon as i sat down in my classroom.

say what you want to that Christianity isn't risky. say it. maybe it isn't for you. but you stand up for His word and see the dirty looks. and hear the comments. it is intense. and it should be. He is worth every awkward glance.

the Bible was slammed. He was discredited. He was described as messing up big time.

it looks like i should be used to it by now. i mean this is my next to last semester. its what i hear day in and day out. but it was different this day. it was dark. and harsh. and i wanted to run out of the classroom. and as soon as the door open i was gone. with tears streaming. it was one of those days. those days where quitting is the most beautiful idea i have ever had. but He wants me there and there i will stay until He says when. and that when is coming in December.

i felt alone. and discouraged. and then i listened to the passion cd. like a revival to my ears. how perfect those songs are for my soul right now. so perfect.

i was also asked "wouldn't you like to be a normal college student?"

i am not even sure what that would look like. but my answer was no. trade this everyday craziness for way jose.

and even in those days that i feel alone. i know i am not. because He is there. He was there before i got there. and He is there when i leave. and i have this incredible net of co-workers in the Truth.

and one day someone will finally "get" my dreams, not just support them but actually fully understand them...and i so look forward to that day.

if it means i have to stand alone for Him to be famous on that campus, i am willing.
if it means being "abnormal", i am so okay with that. normal is relative anyways.

these past couple of weeks has been the realization that i am more "tied down" to Albany that i thought. and it's not even by a husband or children of my own. its the people that i serve. and my homeless friends. and my mento. and i am perfectly okay with all of this.

my heart is kind of splattered all over the place. i guess that is normal? i am not really sure if it is or not but it is true.

i long for a plan ride across the ocean.
and a hut.
and dirt floors.
and long walks to church every Sunday.
and fresh cut flowers being sold out of a cart on the corner.
and the cutest children i have ever seen.

but i don't just simply want to go. i need to be sent. and He needs to be the one to send me. and He will. when He is ready.

that may be when i graduate. and that may be a year after i graduate. i can honestly say that i have no plans after graduation. which is the scariest thing ever since i am a planner at heart. my Type A personality wants to have a set plan. and unfortunately our God just doesn't work like that sometimes.

fill out applications for overseas...i am doing it presently.
fill out applictations for here...i will do it.
wait. quietly. and patiently....i must.

what a process this senior year has been. what love He has graced me with. and what amazing people has He brought into my life. i am blessed beyond words. i have an incredible net of women who pour into me like no other, i have best friends who pray Psalm 91 over me everyday, and i have the sweetest mento around.

i am happy here. i am in love with this season of my life.

most intense month of my life is still taking place. its the new normal.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

the other side of the coin.

laying there trying to go to sleep. it was dark. so dark that the blackness almost made me feel like I couldn't breathe. my mind was racing. my heart was heavy. and my cheeks were wet with tears. it was a muffled sort of cry because the last thing i wanted to do was to wake hilary up with my crying.

our last night together. not forever but for 2 years which feels like forever.

the last time we would fall asleep next to each other giggling. and wake each other back to tell another story.
the last time we would say, "if you wake up first, wake me up."

the last time i woke up to her being silly. and screaming for me to get up.

she is my sister. my sister cousin. she is my best friend.

with only ten months that seperate us in age...we have seen it all together. she has seen me cry when jamie had seizures and no one else could quite understand me. I have seen her clog, play clarinet, play guitar, and everything else the "jack of all trades" has attempted. we have spent many summers at the beach perfecting the "cousin club" rules. there is honestly not a good memory that i have without her in it. our lives are entangled. even hours away. that's just the way our lives have always been.

and it changed.

change is good. and the change was coming. I knew that. but when it happened it hurt worse than i thought.
she moves to Senegal with the peace corps on march 7. that's on the other side of the world. not the same state. not the same continent. the coast of Africa. and that is really exciting.

but you see, I have never seen this side of things.

I have always been the one going. the one talking about moving to another continent. and seeing the fear on the faces of my friends and family. I have never had to see someone do it. I have never been on this side. and I can't quite decide how I feel about it yet.

am I proud? oh, you know it.
am I going to visit? as soon as possible.
will I tell everyone I know about her adventures? count on it.

but that goodbye was the hardest thing I have ever done in this life. gasping for air with tear stained clothes isn't how i wanted the goodbye to look like. but we knew it was coming. and come it did.

and as I type with the swollen eyes and an expectant heart, I beg for you to intercede for Hilary. for peace. and comfort. and for His amazing story to play out in Senegal like we never imagined.

He's able. and worth it.

if that goodbye did nothing else it made me more able to be sympathetic with the most important people in my life that can't bear the thought of me moving away. far away. I get it. I see the other side. and man. it's intense.

Friday, February 11, 2011

love is a weapon.

L-O-V-E. it's the four letter word that people throw around. we color it with red and pink. we decorate it with hearts and glitter. and we talk about it like it's a disease this time of the year.

"created in Christ Jesus for good works which He has prepared in advance for us to do." Ephesians 2:10.

you're probably thinking that this verse has nothing to do with love. but actually it has EVERYTHING to do with love.

first, we were created....because He loved us. secondly, He has prepared things for us to do...because He loves us. and lastly, He has good works for us to do for others...because He loves them.

it's this perfect, romantic, jaw dropping, awe inspiring, breathtaking kind of love.

stop for a second. really think about it. He loves us so much that He has a story for us to live out. and not just some cheesey romantic novel you buy for a buck fifty but an adventure with a love story put in at just the right time. there are people for us to touch. works to accomplish for His kingdom.

and He didn't give us passions and dreams for us to just sit there and think about them. go live it. and this love isn't supposed to be lived just in the four walls of your church. it isn't supposed to be kept between you and your Christian best friends. it isn't supposed to be given to people who look like you. no, this love is meant for your world. your city. for your school. every single person you come into contact with. God loves them so much! and He is sending you places to tell them that. to show them that love.

L-O-V-E is weapon for His kingdom. something that Satan cannot combat with. because people of this world don't get it. it's all foolishness to them.

go give some food to the homeless man you pass every single day. go to the government housing in your city and pray over it. go sit by someone you don't know and listen to their story.

stop keeping it to yourself. use the weapon He has given us. it drives out fear. and it shakes the grounds of Hell.

my prayer for you this Valentine's Day is not that you find your soulmate. or not that your spouse takes you out on some fabulous date. i hope you don't find satisfaction in a dozen roses or a cute boy. nope. i pray that you sacrifice- pouring out yourself for someone for His glory.

praying this becomes your heart:
"I am the Lord's servant, may it be done to me according to Your will." Luke 1:38

be willing. surrender your story for His. live His love out. and shake the grounds of hell.

tell me how you used love!

Monday, February 7, 2011

life interrupted.

so these past 2 weeks have been a little like a a pot being broken. then put back together. then smashed on the ground. then put back together. and the cycle continues.

praying for um, i would say a good 2 years of where God would send me when i graduate college. big dreams. He is a God of big dreams and cools stories. feeding the hungry. setting the slaves free. getting the poor clothing. easing the hurts of the mourning. all of that Isaiah 58 stuff.

waiting. waiting. waiting on it.

and bam.

it hit me like a boulder. in the face. all of those things up there....they need to be done here. right now.

i love this city. i serve this city. this city has seen my best days. the ugliest, broken cries. me and Albany have this beautiful history of my 22 years of life so far. but you know...everyone knows i am called to missions. everyone knows that one day i won't be living here. and i just assumed that living overseas would be easier without a husband and kids. you know...taking the easy route i suppose.

yeah, general conclusion...He isn't looking for the easy route. and i don't know best. best may be me married with 7 kids in tow. who knows. i sure don't. i can't see the next steps like He does. and i am really grateful for that because it would probably freak me out.

Albany is His. and it is hurting. and it needs restoration. and quite frankly, God doesn't need us to do that. He just doesn't. He's God. He can do the story on His own. but He LETS us. He wants us to be a little part of the story. to be able to glorify Him by serving the city.

does this mean i know what this next year holds? definately a negative. do i know that it is going to be bigger and better than i can dream? you betcha.

so giving up what i had my heart set on to let Him take's a beautiful mess. and my heart is a little all over the place. i don't have it all together and i am pretty sure He likes it like that.

so i am living for today. not the day when i graduate. not the day when i get on the plane for THAT plane ride. it's about living to honor Him and living to love others in the process.

so for right now, Albany is my Nineveh.

His interruptions are probably some of the most beautiful things we can ever experience. i am rather stoked about these next few months.

**disclaimer: family, this does not mean that i will not leave after graduation. it is my Nineveh NOW, let's think about that day when it comes:)

Sunday, January 30, 2011

and we sat.

an ending to a crazy week. a picture of His love. a glimpse into what He desires His kingdom to look like.
let me start by saying this: this past week was insane. and difficult at times if i am honest. some days this life is hard. and i think He gets that. but i am grateful for the inconvenience of being a part of His grand, great, amazing, beautiful, perfect story.
i told myself all week that i would catch up on sleep friday and saturday. yeah, i forgot i had amazingness to happen both days.
friday morning coffee with my mentor. my mentor that gets my heart and will listen to my crazy dreams. my mentor who is so seasoned in Christ and is the most beautiful mommy. my mentor who loves our Jesus more than life and realizes that pouring into others is what this season in her life is all about. she loves God, she loves people, and i desperately hope that i am half the woman/mommy that she is. she is incredible. and i am so grateful.
fast forward to saturday morning. my alarm went off maybe 3 times before i finally got up. half asleep but so ready to be His hands and feet. meeting my best friends who were excited as i was. and then getting to see Hannah Grace (my mentee) and Compassion International Jr. serve was almost too much to handle. they were so excited to be there. so excited to love on kids. so excited to be His servants.
there probably aren't adequate words to describe saturday. so i just won't try. but i will say this- He was glorified. children hugged. children fed. smiles that you could feel. screams and yells full of laughter. it was just perfect.
i'm convinced of this: sometimes loving Him means sitting. and loving. and giving a kid a hamburger. and listening to their stories about school. you don't have to be in Mongolia for that. you just don't.
and it also looks like a little girl asking you to hold her hand. so we sat. and i held her hand. and i pray those kids realize just how much they are loved. because they are. deeply by their Heavenly Daddy and by a whole group of people who can't stop thinking about them.

Monday, January 24, 2011

"what's it to you?" -Jesus.

a 21 day fast ended Sunday. we ended it with communion. which i think is beautiful. it began with worship of my Daddy and it ended in remembering all He taught me in the first 3 weeks of 2011.
i can give one word for those 3 weeks: worship.
not the kind you automatically think of. not the kind in the church. or in a conference. surrounded by your best friends who are also worshiping. but the kind that wakes you up in the middle of the night. the kind that makes you do crazy stuff on the way home from school. the kind that makes you cry as you leave the lecture hall.

and Sunday i saw a picture of just what Jesus desires this raw worship to look like.

i'm standing singing the songs, worried about the no signal blue box on one of the walls when Jesus shows off like He has done so often these past days.

a little boy. a perfect, beautiful little boy in a wheelchair is about 4 rows in front of me. on the end of an aisle. not where he usually sits so i usually don't get to see him until after church. there he is strapped in his chair. his mom beside him worshiping. and he begins to worship. worship like i have never seen. the kind that catches you off guard and takes your breath away. clapping his hands, smiling up towards the sky all at the same time. and being who i am my mind went here...

imagine his days. depending on his mother. not being able to walk. wearing braces on his legs that probably rub his legs and leave bruises. knowing that yet another day of not being "normal."

imagine what goes through his mind some days. he probably thinks about how he is a burden. he probably wishes he could go to the movies like his brothers. he probably thinks that no one will ever love him enough to marry him and take care of him.

imagine the kids at his school. he probably gets made fun of. he probably cries some nights. he probably would never tell his mom this though because he already feels guilty for her being tired.

but he praises. and to Jesus its probably the most pure form. because he is sitting in a chair he may never get out of. he is clapping with hands that go through physical therapy. he is pursuing his creator even though he may feel inadequate but he knows to our Daddy he is perfect. he was made in His image. there is not one flaw in Him.

oh, to have worship like that. pure. raw. sitting at His feet. knowing that we are broken. knowing that we need Him more than life itself.

clapping when we can hardly move our hands.

but most of the time we look at other people who don't appear to be as broken as we are. who look like they have it all together. who have an "easy" calling on their lives. and we wonder why. why can't i have it like they do? why can't my sister run like theirs? why can't i just be a school teacher in Georgia? why do they get recognition when they don't deserve it? why don't they get pushed as hard as i do? and the list goes on.

and all the while Jesus is looking us straight in the face like He did to Peter saying, "what's it to you?" we can't judge our stories based on other peoples. He uses us differently. and yes, we are all made in His image but we all are different. He molds our hearts and shapes our stories.

He is using it all. and i don't like to hear that sometimes but its true. every single uh-oh...He's using it. every single accomplishment...He's using it. every single family member that gets sick...yep, He's using it. those mistakes that betcha, He's gonna use it. every tear stained night....oh, He is using it.
our stories are different. our worship is different. but our God is the same. and He always will be.

paint a canvas. project something onto some screen. color a picture. take a picture. make a movie. teach a class. move to China. just do whatever He wants you to.

and don't dare ask Him why your life can't be like....John Doe's. what's it to you? you don't know the end of your story and you don't know the end of theirs. just wait on Him. trust Him. He's way more creative and smart than we give Him credit for half the time.

worship Him fully. trust Him continuously. and do something good for His kingdom.

and read John 21.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Daddy, I'm scared.

so i remember being in sixth grade. it was a normal day. the week had been just a normal week of middle school life. we had done our commercials in Mrs.Byrd's class. Jacob had spilled his experiment on the floor and left quite the stain. we all left school in a hurried rush because some of them might miss the bus. and everyone was always screaming "i love you, bye" as we left. we were all family. we grew up together.

my daddy got home. told me something about a wreck he heard about on the way home. i didn't think anything of it. a wreck to a sixth grader is something uncomprehendable. it happened to a stranger. a poor family. we prayed for them. daddy really prayed for them.

hours passed.

our house phone rang. it was for me. it was mandy.

"hey ivy. did you hear?"

that's all i remember. i couldn't comprehend it. i didn't want to hear it. i was scared to death.

my friend jacob. was in that wreck. my friend jacob and his sister were trapped in the backseat. my friend jacob. died. as a sixth grader he left this earth to go dance with our Jesus.

the next hours were full of questions. full of tears. full of screaming. screaming in my room. screaming at God.

i distinctly remember with my hair soaking wet from the shower and all in my face sitting on the couch with my daddy. he patted his lap. i got right on it. i cried. him and mama probably shed quite a few of their own those next few hours and days. with swollen eyes and a hurting heart i looked at my daddy and i said, "daddy, i'm scared."

that fear was validated. it was understandable. i had realized how fragile life was. not just my Granny's life who died four years earlier but the lives of people my age. the lives of merely children. and i was scared. and i was honest. and i was raw. i didn't care who saw that.

and that is exactly where i am right now.

every single prayer starts or ends with "Daddy, i'm scared." this is a big year. i finish college. i fill out applications for the next step. i will seek God daily for where He wants the next season of my life to be spent. i am going to say goodbye to the only life i have ever known. school since i was 5. how do i do life without school? how do i leave Jamie? how do i think about getting on a plane and praying my grandparents won't get sick while i am serving overseas?

these questions plague my mind. and i am not going to even attempt to act like i have it all together. i am a mess. a wreck. but the thought of not going where He sends me makes me even more of a wreck. the lives He is preparing in this very moment. the harvest He is preparing. it gets me so excited. so excited to see what He is going to do this year. in the next five years. in the next twenty years of my life. to see where He will take me and my future husband. to imagine the red, yellow, black, and white family that He has for me. everything is moving so fast. i can remember writing in my journal about 2010. and now. its long gone. His promises still remain though. He doesn't lie. ever. and He will come through.

2 more semesters to shine on my campus. 2 more semesters to reach my professors. 2 more semesters to be intentional with every single word. every single action. every single attitude. every single grade. i have Jesus. and i need to represent Him in the purest light i know how.

and that scares me. merely weeks to show them Christ. merely weeks.

i will not stand back and watch my peers run away from God. pretend He is dead. because He is alive. and He is stirring up a revolution bigger than anyone can ever imagine. He is here. even now. even when the problems of this world seem strong, He is stronger. He is good. He is in control

Daddy, i'm scared but i'm jumping anyways.