draw near to Me

If you were wondering what happened to me, you don’t have to wonder any longer. I’m still here. My dad even called my voicemail for the first and second time because it’s been so long since I’ve connected with them. (By the way, if you want to leave me a voicemail let me know and I’ll send you my Colorado Springs phone number that I have through Skype and can get messages through my computer.)

Oh my, I’m not even sure where to begin. I met God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit in a fresh way this week. That doesn’t mean that this week was easy. It was far from easy. Rather it was an intense week. The verse that sticks out to me right now is James 4:8, “Come near to God and he will come near to you . . .” I know that in the context of that scripture there are many ways of how we come near to God: submitting, resisting the devil, purifying yourself, humility. During this past week, I came close to God through humility.

The topic for our ninth week of class was the Holy Spirit. This is an exciting topic and also controversial in the western church. I was challenged this week and needed to be. At the same time I didn’t resonate with the approach of this topic.

I told you in my last in-depth entry that I needed an attitude check, this involves letting go of pride. This week I had a moment when I surrendered my pride and people-pleasing tendencies to respond in a specific situation. It was a hard moment, and looking back I can’t believe I responded the way I did. It wasn’t something I’d typically do. But I knew God was there. I sensed Him as I wrestled with thoughts and cried and wanted to understand what I didn’t easily understand. God was near and I had so many people tell me they sensed God right there with me this week. I even had a woman today, who I don’t know well, approach me to say she perceived on Wednesday night that I carried a heavy load, almost like a backpack. But that today (Saturday) my load is gone, and God must have done something between now and then in my heart and life. I can’t articulate what that load might have been, but I know I’ve been close to the One who could remove it. This week God was my Daddy; Jesus was my Friend; and Holy Spirit was my Counselor. I discovered that the Trinity is SO involved in my life. I still have many questions about the Holy Spirit, but these have to wait as I move on to the next topic for week 10.

I find myself putting many topics on the shelf during this discipleship training school. I’m excited to pull them back out and draw closer to God by studying His Word. And that time is approaching.

thanks • giving
I didn’t get the opportunity to put out a Thanksgiving thanks to all of you who have come alongside me in encouragement, prayer, financial support, goodies in the mail, etc. Thank YOU! I hope each of you had a wonderful Thanksgiving.

I usually spend Thanksgiving in a place other than Indiana. Sometimes it’s Colorado, one year it was New York City (and I saw Bono), last year I was in Seattle with my friend Sarah. So being away from my family wasn’t something new this year. However, I’ve never spent Thanksgiving in another country. Especially another country that doesn’t have the same kinds of typical Thanksgiving store-bought items.

The goal this year was to make green bean casserole, you know, the recipe you find on the back of the French’s Fried Onions can. Yep, no can. No French’s. No Delmonte Green Beans. No Campbell’s Cream of Mushroom soup. However, we did have canned green beans, cream of mushroom soup mix and fried onions.

I started to make the soup and was told I’d need to add this corn-starch stuff to make it thicker. I put some in, but nothing was happening. I added more. Still nothing. Then I was told to dissolve the corn-starch in water, then add it to boiling soup.

Boy did that make a difference!! I’ve never seen so much green bean casserole in my life. I’ve never seen cream of mushroom soup expand so quickly. It was surely a miracle! *smile*

Here’s our Thanksgiving table. We had 14 people attend the dinner. This including four different countries represented: USA, Romania, Austria and Germany.

Apfel Strudel was an Austrian addition to our Thanksgiving dessert list. Here my friend, Anagret is helping put the apples onto the dough so it can be rolled into a strudel. And below is a picture of me and Anagret. We hung out with her in the city a few weeks ago at the Italian restaurant. I was glad she could come to our Thanksgiving dinner. It was her first Thanksgiving because she’s from Germany.

Here’s the entire group, except Mallory who is taking the picture. (From left to right): Katia, Craig, Gerhard, Susanne, Anagret, me, Florina, Florin, Courtney, Caleb, Sharon, Mattias.

You can’t have Thanksgiving in Austria without Fanta!!

Here Mallory is biting into one of our other Thanksgiving desserts. It was an icecream pie that Courtney made. It was still very frozen, so you can to pick up the crust and bite it because it contained a thick layer of melted chocolate. They don’t have pre-made cookie crusts that you can buy at the store. So, Courtney smashed butter cookies and made her own. It was an excellent dessert, and the crust was actually my favorite part!

Here is Florina and Florin. Yes, they have similar names. They are both from Romania, are married and work with a YWAM base there. They came two weeks ago to teach about inductive Bible study. We really loved having them, and were happy they came the week of Thanksgiving.

it’s here!! Christmastime!
Lights are up everywhere, and Christmas markets are underway. We’re going to shop at one of the most famous markets in Vienna on Thursday. I can’t wait! Everything is in place for this Christmas season, except snow. Can all of you in Colorado who are getting snow almost every week please mail me some? Send it through overnight mail, I think that would work the best. *smile*

Here are some pictures of how Modling is decorated. They have children’s amusement park-type rides set up in the town square. They go all out for Christmastime.

You should receive your Christmas postcard soon! The next edition of Tandem Living will include a funny behind-the-scenes story of the picture I used.

how can you pray?
• I believe we are going to Serbia for our two-month outreach. You can pray for the definite clarification and the details of that trip. We would have the opportunity to be involved in a lot of youth ministry through this outreach location. That makes me very excited!

• I have moments when I’m ready to move forward and jump into the next step of missions in Europe. Pray that I’ll be available for God’s continued refinement as I’m here in the middle of this discipleship training school.

• There are ideas I have about “the next” but there are also lots of questions. Pray for guidance, direction and confirmation.

• Pray for my parents as they travel to Vienna for Christmas!! For their safety, jetlag, our time together, and the meal Courtney and I are going to cook on Christmas Day. I’ll limit my corn-starch supply! *smile*

Have a great Sunday! (It took a while to finish this entry)

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