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December 2013

A Prologue to Grief

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I apologize for not being consistent with my posts. It’s a true shame and without a real excuse since it’s not for lack of thoughts and ideas. So, enough of lamenting the time lost and not writing, onto what you’re more interested in – Grief.

Recently, my pastor did a sermon on the topic of grief and I found it incredibly compelling. I don’t even know exactly why. I don’t necessarily have many griefs at this time. In fact, I am in a rather fruitful and happy place in life. But what I believe his sermon did was open up the box of memories in my heart, and I was allowed a time of reflection on griefs I’ve grieved and griefs that may not completely be spent. If you’re a woman, you’ll understand a bit better – everything connects to another – and memories are no exception. It’s hard to sometimes isolate the source of a thought or a feeling and it can be down right maddening when you can’t identify the source of a pain.

As Pastor R. preached, I sat thinking of all the grief periods in my life and the disappointments I’ve endured. Don’t get me wrong, Pastor R. never encouraged self-pity or wallowing in tears. But he made an argument for the necessity of grief in life and it relieved me in a lot of ways. He criticized that America is a society that teaches to stuff the negativity and the sadness in our lives. We shove it aside, pull ourselves up by our bootstraps, and we suck it up. “Of course, I do,” I silently thought to myself. But I realized this was probably not a good thing as I listened to his tone and intonation. For the first time I think in my life, I truly felt like not only was grieving a healing process, but a necessary one and a Biblical blessing. As I sat and listened, I found myself letting down a guard I have had for years, and to my surprise it was a guard I had even put up between me and God. I found myself apologizing to Him for not allowing Him to come into those times of grief and do his job as The Comforter. For too many years had I believed that Grief and I were one-on-one combatants that I would have to put up a tough fight and find myself exhausted emotionally, mentally, physically, and spiritually. I had never realized this was never a battle I was meant to either flee from or fight alone.

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A Letter to Love Japan 2013

Kyoto Japan

 

If I could be there I would. I miss Japan dearly and am eager for when God allows me to return. To the team I do not know, but I know they will do great work because God has sent them with his purpose.

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

My name is Kara and I know you don’t know me and I don’t know you. But what I do know is that you’re sitting where I sat for the past two years with Don in Kyoto, Japan awaiting for this exciting week to begin! Whether you’re familiar with the Love Japan trip or Japan in general, this mission trip is an absolutely unique experience every time.

I know you don’t know me, but just know that I have a heart for the Japanese people and if I could, I would be with y’all this year. But God has great plans for your group this year and I cannot wait to hear of the stories that come from this trip.

I absolutely love Japan and I hope you find chances to explore on your own and take opportunities to share the Gospel. I could probably write for days about Japan, but I will try to be brief and just give some encouragement to you.

I know that Japan can be a bit of a culture shock-country with only Kanji characters to guide you. But don’t be intimidated! I was nervous and a bit worried too my first year in Japan. But I discovered that the Japanese are mostly helpful, kind, courteous and patient. They do not like to make visitors uncomfortable or to feel embarrassed, so trust me when I say, they will do their best to listen and understand your situation and offer their assistance if they can.

Take as many opportunities to share the story of Jesus with the people you meet. My first year I met girls who had never heard that Christmas had anything to do with Jesus and were excited to learn about the Christmas story since they had never heard it before. They were so excited that they said they would share the story with friends later that night. How amazing is that? It felt a bit like how the Bible describes people becoming so enthralled with the Good News, they just had to tell someone!

I hope my words encourage you and serve as a testimony to the work God has already done and will continue to do in Japan. I pray that God strengthens your spirits daily and that you will not fall into discouragement or disappointment. I found that being in a state of constant prayer while on campuses gave me a great amount of peace. And praying aloud with my team member as we walked around was encouraging as well.

Enjoy every day and don’t be afraid of trying the food! It’s an adventure God has allowed you to be a part of so go out and explore, discover, and serve!

I know these may just be words from a stranger to you, but I know in Christ, we are family, and so I lift my prayers to God for you as you venture out during this very special season to share the Gospel.

Many Blessings and Prayers,

Kara

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