Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Impacted: Worship & Humility

Since arriving home (Malaysia), I have been impacted a number of different times. The first one was this past Sunday. The sermon in church was about worship. Pastor was discussing how sadly worship has become more about us instead of glorifying the Lord. Worship is about recognizing God for who He is! Often times, especially in the U.S., people pick a church based off of the music they play. Some say that the music is too loud, too soft, too upbeat, too slow, etc. Perhaps it's time we examine our hearts. Why are you at church? To get a feeling? Worship is NOT about us: it's about recognizing God for who He is! That last statement was worth repeating. When I look for a church to attend, it is about hearing the Truth preached from the Bible. Whether or not the music is exactly to my liking is beside the point.

Also, worship is NOT just music. We should strive to worship God all the time. We can worship God through our daily tasks because it is an attitude. I can cut out my laminated name tags and worship Christ while doing so. The Bible says whatever you do, do as if unto the Lord.

In addition to thinking about worship, this morning in our combined staff gathering I was impacted by something I had heard before. Our director was discussing themes from years past. Then it hit me: humility. Stop and think about what that word means. Humility is self worth without arrogance. Humility is NOT self denigration,  lack of confidence, etc. Humility is the opposite of entitlement and pride.

What struck me was the phrase, "not self denigration..." Simply stated, being humble does not mean you put yourself down. One way we try to be humble is we say that we are not good at things. This whole notion threw me into a whirlwind. This is something I have struggled with since middle school. I have been walking the fine line of being humble and putting myself down. It all started back in middle/high school. As hard as it may be to believe, I was not popular. When I started attending the public school it was hard for me to find where I fit in. When I finally was able to get into a group of friends, I realized I was the butt of many jokes. Because I was naive, I made an easy target. Then I figured that it was better to join them and beat them to the punch. When I did that, it did not hurt as bad when they said it. It was a coping mechanism that still is with me today. While I have grown up and changed, it is still ingrained. Sometimes I catch myself putting myself down. How dare I do that? When I put myself down in any way, I am insulting God's creation. In Jeremiah we read that we are wonderfully and fearfully made, knitted together in our mother's womb. God created us with purpose and design. My personality, looks, intelligence, etc. were not given to me by accident.

As I thought about this through the day, I realized I needed to ponder this more. Humility. With the Lord's help, I will be able to break the cycle of self denigration. He is the Healer and can heal even me.

Friday, August 3, 2012

A Day Late and Jet-lagged

This summer, I had the privilege of traveling back to the United States. Those seven weeks were well spent talking, laughing, and sharing life with my family, friends, and church family. God knew this trip was exactly what I needed. He provided opportunities for me to have good conversations with many different people. I cherish each person I was able to talk to this summer.While many people said those seven weeks flew by, I felt differently. In my opinion, the time was perfect. It wasn't too long; it wasn't too short.

On Monday, July 30, my dad brought me to the Des Moines airport. My good friend Faith made it to say goodbye as well. As I headed up the escalator to go through security, I turned and waved a final goodbye. My first flight of four began at noon. The forty-five minute flight to Minneapolis went smoothly. Upon arrival, I decided to eat lunch before my twelve hour flight. What better to eat than a blizzard at Dairy Queen?! :) Along with the blizzard I had a bacon burger with onion rings. Unable to finish all the food, I cleared my place and headed toward my gate. As I sat near the gate, I heard someone call my name. I looked up to see Alisa Lawrence, from Dalat! She was on the same flight as me to Tokyo. We were talking for a few minutes and heard an announcement for our flight. It was delayed one hour for maintenance. Alisa left to go eat with her daughter, who was flying elsewhere.

The hour went by quickly and it wasn't long until the boarding time approached. Just then, the following announcement came over the speakers: "Delta flight 621 to Tokyo has been cancelled due to maintenance problems. We're sorry for any inconvenience." There I sat, shocked to hear that my flight had been cancelled. I immediately called my dad to share the news with him. Our call was interrupted by another call my dad was getting. So, I decided to get in the long line to get my hotel voucher. Stepping into line at the same time was Alisa! We ended up talking almost the entire time we were in line.

While in line, my phone rang. My caller ID flashed: Geoff! I immediately picked up to talk to my brother. He lives only about an hour from Minneapolis. Thankfully, Geoff and my sister-in-law Meghan did not have plans that night. Geoff said that they would come take me out for supper. Yay!

Alisa and I finally got our hotel vouchers, along with three meal vouchers. It was such a blessing to have Alisa there with me. I had a working cell phone and we were both able to use it to call family. Alisa called her parents, who were still in town, to come pick us up and take us to our hotel. As Alisa was talking to her parents, I looked over and thought I recognized someone. I looked and looked again to realize it was who I thought it was! It was my dear friend Charlotte Kern! :) She had just arrived in Minneapolis and was headed out. What another blessing!

Later that evening, Geoff, Meghan, and I all headed to the Mall of America for some supper at Buffalo Wild Wings. We were able to catch up on the few weeks we hadn't seen each other this summer. After supper, my cousin Curtis joined us at the hotel to hang out and talk.

Once they left, I decided to stay up all night long. My flight was supposed to take off at 10am the next morning. Since that would be 11pm in Malaysia, it would work out perfectly! I would be able to sleep a lot of my long twelve hour flight...or so I thought.

Arriving at the airport, we went to check in with Delta. I stood there for nearly twenty minutes before I realize I was the only one still there. The lady checking me in did not know what she was doing. She constantly asked for assistance from a colleague of hers. After thirty minutes, she finally gave me my boarding passes and assured me everything was okay. Believing her, I took the boarding passes and headed for security. It wasn't until I arrived at the gate that I noticed my boarding ticket had the same flight information as the day before. I thought surely it was a mistake. It was just printed not even an hour prior to that.

About 9am, they started boarding the flight. I reached the front where they scanned my ticket to find out it was denied. The lady asked me to step into a long line to figure out the issue. Graciously, Alisa stepped out of line with me. After we prayed about it, we stood there waiting to see what would happen. While waiting, the boarding line was gone. I told Alisa I would be fine and I would see her on the flight. Only when I got to the front, the lady informed me that I was booked on the afternoon flight to Tokyo, not the morning one. With many people still behind me, I took my boarding tickets and walked to find a seat. I called my dad crying. After being up for 26 hours at that point, I was tired and wanted to sleep.

My flight from Minneapolis to Tokyo was on time and went smoothly, as did my flight from Tokyo to Singapore. I didn't expect to see anyone else I knew, but right before boarding my flight to Tokyo, I saw the Weidemann's! They were on the same flights that day.

In Singapore, I checked into the transit hotel. The Lord worked it out for Delta to honor my voucher, even though I was a day late. In the morning, I went to the Delta counter to find out that I need to check in with SilkAir. Once I talked to SilkAir they informed me that Delta did not rebook my flight. I turned around to talk to Delta, except they were no where to be found. I eventually had someone point me towards Delta employees. The short story is that I ended up on stand-by for the morning flight and got on. Therefore, my entire trip was elongated by 24 hours, but it felt like longer because of all the mishaps.

One thing that this trip reminded me of is God's provision. He has always provided for me and always will. He knew what was going to happen all along this trip. While in the midst of those hiccups and frustrating moments, God granted me peace and I prayed that He would guide me. I chose to trust that there was a purpose for the way everything worked out. It was a blessing to spend extra time with my Geoff, Meghan, and Curtis.

Also, His timing is perfect. While I have plans, God sees the bigger picture. I am so thankful to have a loving Lord and Savior who I can fully trust. That's a rarity in this world. People will let you down, but your Heavenly Father will NEVER let you down!

Tuesday, April 24, 2012


As humans, we are creatures of habit. Routines become natural. Predictability and normalcy are things we crave to have in our lives. Often times, we cringe at the sound of the word: change. Whether good or bad, it has a way of appearing at unexpected times.

Change is defined as "to make or become different; alter." Looking back at this year, I have come to realize how much has changed. Almost a year ago, my mom passed away suddenly. Change. My brother got married. Change. Packed up my classroom and apartment and moved home. Change. Packed again and moved overseas; alone. Change. 

Besides these big changes, I have noticed the little ones that happen day to day. Students absent due to sickness, bad attitudes, and technology not working are just some examples of the changes that may arise unexpectedly. This year I had a student get sick during Bible class on her desk. Did I anticipate that? Most definitely not!

What I want to emphasize is not the change itself; rather, it is how we (I) react to these changes. Is it easy to get frustrated with a student who shouts out in class? Is it easy to complain when there is an unwanted task that you have to accomplish? Of course! Our school's theme for the year is "The Road Less Travelled." Something I often tell my students is that we always have a choice. No one can make us do anything. When that student chooses to blurt out, I have two choices. One: I could lash out and get frustrated with the child. Or two: I could choose to extend grace to the child and patiently deal with him or her.

My desire is to allow Christ to work in and through me, guiding me to make choices that please Him. Christ wants us to change to be more like Him! Therefore, change is a necessity in this life. We are to daily take up our cross and follow our risen Savior. His desire is not only for us to be in relationship with Him, but to become more like Him each and every day. We cannot stay the same! 

Walking with Him,

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Bursting at the Seams...

Days recently have flown by as if they were minutes. March? Already?! When did that happen? Every day here feels like summer. Stepping outside from an air-conditioned room, I'm immediately hit with a wall of hot, humid, and sticky air. In Iowa, it was easier to mark time by the changing of the seasons. 

The big question on your mind is probably why did I entitle my blog post "Bursting at the Seams?"

Imagine filling a water balloon. You hook up the balloon to the faucet and begin to fill the balloon slowly. As water enters the balloon, the balloon expands to accommodate. However, the balloon can only hold so much water and can only expand so much until....POP! It pops and water crashes all around. 

My life lately has been like a water balloon about ready to burst. A few things have contributed to this tension. Recently I have started to feel less like myself. This past year has been quite a year of transition for me. Being half a world away from my "norm," I realized I have not dealt with or grieved the loss of my mom. Consequently, I have been keeping all of my feelings to myself and bottling them up. In addition to that, the Dalat culture is swirling around me. Busy, meetings, information overload, class chapel, M.E.W. (Missions Emphasis Week), and much more! 

With so much going on, and very few people to talk to, it feels as though I am surrounded by people yet so alone. I walk around campus and see many smiling faces. We exchange pleasantries and continue on our way. What is lacking is the deepness of good friendships. Ones that don't revolve around talking about work, including students, colleagues, etc. When people talk, I listen. I take on their burdens and share the load. Well, that only works so long... I have expanded to my max capacity and am about to burst. 

Please pray that I will be able to continually lean on God fully for all I need. As a follower of Jesus Christ, it is easy to say that He is all I need. However, it is a much different story to trust, believe, and rely on that. Also, please pray for emotional healing. My emotions have been all over the place lately. My heart literally aches, even at this very moment. 

May God bless you and keep you!


Friday, January 20, 2012

A Year of Blessings

Hello! It's now nearing the end of our Christmas/Winter Break. As I look back at 2011, I realize it was a year of many blessings; however, it didn't stop there! God has blessed me immensely in 2012, and it's only just begun!

Last year I was living in Ames, working with wonderful ladies at Ames Christian School. My Early Kindergarten (EK) students were a lot of fun! In January, about a year ago to today, I applied for a position at Dalat International School. From there I was in a whirlwind of interviews, e-mails, and Skype phone calls. With many weeks of waiting, prayer, patience, and e-mails, I finally received an e-mail with  my contract at Dalat. Through moving here, God has provided many things. One of them being a car that I purchased from the States and was ready to drive the moment I stepped onto Malaysian soil. The apartment I currently live in was also a huge blessing from the Lord. I had lived in this apartment building during student teaching. It is close to the school, good size, and great view. One apartment opened up on the top (third) floor of that building. So many other little details fell into place.

Not only did God bless me with wonderful things I needed, He blessed me with  many people. It started in the States when it felt as though no one was there to help me... God placed certain individuals to encourage me and help me with things, such as packing, moving, cleaning, etc. Also, I have been BEYOND blessed by my home church. The congregation "family" at Blairsburg Missionary Alliance Church has been so supportive of me and what God has called me to do. I am very grateful for their continual support, especially in prayer. God didn't stop blessing me in Iowa. When I arrived in Penang, my wonderful host mom Karen was there to pick me up, with two of her children. Just three years ago she picked me up for my student teaching. We both had a deja-vu moment. Karen and her family were, and still are, a tremendous host family. They made what could have been a very difficult transition, very smooth. Beyond that, God has blessed me with many new friends that have invited me over for dinners and really invested in my life. 

Speaking of good friends... This past year (and the end of 2010) I was able to be in three different weddings. October 2010 - Olivia; March 2011 - Leah; June 2011 - Geoff and Meghan. It was such an honor to be included in each of these weddings and to share that special day with them. 

The most recent blessing I have been given was that my dad, Grandpa Petrie, and The Kerns were able to visit me in Penang. They were here eight full days and a little extra. During that time, we were able to talk through many things. I am thankful for the opportunity to grieve with people who understand what I am going through, who can relate to what I am feeling, and who can help me through this process. Being here six months without being able to get counselling or help from anyone has been a challenge. However, God is faithful and His timing is perfect. It was great to get hugs (since I mentioned in a previous blog about being hug-deprived). Laughter was probably the highlight of my trip. We all were able to enjoy each other's company, play games, and watch Tim Hawkins. 

The last blessing I will mention is the book I read recently, "Heaven is For Real." Honestly, a book (besides the Bible) has never changed me as much as this one has. Seeing Heaven from a toddler's point of view is incredible. Especially in light of my mom passing away this past year, it was nice to picture what she is experiencing. I strongly suggest you read the book if you haven't yet. :)

To end this note, I want to talk about what I have been learning recently. I have been struggling to love some people here as Jesus loves them. Their actions and words towards me have often been hurtful and often "make" me want to be rude. I say "make" because no one can make us feel anything. We CHOOSE to feel upset when something happens. That's right; we do have a choice. I'm currently reading through "Just Like Jesus" by Max Lucado. In it he talks about "loving the people you're stuck with." This really resonated with me. As I read this chapter, he talked about Jesus washing the disciples' feet. Jesus knew that Judas would very soon betray Him; yet, Jesus knelt down and washed His feet. He didn't bypass Judas or have a snotty attitude. Jesus showed him mercy and forgiveness. Plus, Jesus was innocent. He did not deserve the rejection, false accusations, etc. However, the way He responded was profound. He did not fight back! Even though He wasn't guilty, He did not get defensive and angry. Wow... As a child, I was very VERY defensive. I felt misunderstood and innocent. I wanted to prove that it wasn't my fault, so I chose to argue. Now as an adult, I look at Jesus' reaction. When someone here says something hurtful, how do I react? Do I retaliate? Ignore them? Be rude? Or do I show them mercy and forgiveness? Do I love them, pray for them, and continue to be genuinely polite to them? I have been challenged with this lately. I now pray daily that God will allow me to act and react like Christ. 

I pray that you all have had a blessed New Year thus far! Life is full of many trials and tribulations. Remember these things... God is good ALL the time. God is faithful to those who love Him. God only gives us as much as we can handle, with His help. There will always be something to gripe about, but choose the Road Less Travelled. Choose to see the blessings!

In Christ,

Friday, December 16, 2011

When you experience speed bumps....

Lately I have been pondering this statement: when you hit speed bumps along life's road, keep on going. May 9th, I hit the biggest speed bump of my life. The passing of my mother has been difficult, to say the least. Another "speed bump" I have been dealing with is acceptance. Ever since I was in elementary school I have struggled to fit in. My role in friendships then was the loyal friend, doormat, and one to be used and abused. Throughout my teens and college years, it continued to be an issue. Now having moved to a foreign country and knowing virtually no one has proved to be quite a challenge. God has provided a few people with whom I can talk to openly. However, one of those people was a student teacher who left tonight. Another close friend is gone most of break. So here I sit: alone. 

Alone... Why is that such a problem? God is all I need, so why do I long to be accepted by others? Others look at your outside appearance, actions, and interactions. God, on the other hand, looks at our heart. I am truly thankful for that, seeing as how I daily make mistakes while trying to live a godly life. Over break, it is a goal of mine is to truly seek out God. While God is all we need, He has designed us to be in relationship with one another, whether that is through marriage or by being related by blood or simply be extending friendship to one another. It is my desire to seek out answers from the Bible on friendships, acceptance, and how to keep God above all else while following His plan for my life. 

Looking back at the semester, I can see how God has been at work in my life. Change is rarely easy. Most often it is hard and painful. God never said a life with Him would be easy, but it will bring us joy and allow us to have eternal life in Heaven! He has blessed me with an amazing family back home who prays for me daily. My students have been a huge blessing to me, especially yesterday. They showed me so much love through hugs, gifts, and encouraging words. It was overwhelming to receive so much love from eight and nine year olds! Each student has their own strengths and it is a joy helping them to develop those strengths, as well as gently guide them along in their weaknesses.

Perhaps it took God calling me to an island to spark the change in me He wants to see. When I am called home to Heaven someday, I want nothing more than to hear, "Well done, my good and faithful servant." The real question is, "Am I living a life worthy of the King of Kings? The Saviour of the world?" 

Friday, November 11, 2011

Four Months In...

Looking back at my old posts, I realized I have not written in over a month! Where did October go? Time has flown since I arrived in Penang four months ago. 

School is going well. My students have the day to day routine down pat and the classroom prep-work has become more bearable. My biggest daily problem is that my students talk too much in class. This is ironic since my parents were told by almost every one of my teachers, "Jodi is a good student. Talks too much in class." :) 

Over a four day break in October I completely rearranged my classroom. My room was set up quickly in the first few days before school began. I was able to make it work; however, during the break I made my room feel bigger and more functional. *See my videos on Facebook for a virtual tour through my classroom.*

This past month many different people have opened up their homes to me for dinner and/or to play games. It has been nice having places to go, other than my apartment. Even though I have had these invitations, I still feel distant from everyone here. To be quite honest, I feel like I have not been able to truly be myself with anyone here yet. Since people here do not know me well yet, they will not understand why I may say or do certain things. I have found it difficult to share how I am feeling with people and lately I have been feeling quite disappointed in people. Some people have told me that they want to talk with me, but have not made time for us to do so. Since my mom passed away, many people have told me, "Let me know what I can do for you. I would love to help you anytime." Disappointment set in when friends did not come through on that promise. When I was in the States, that resulted in me packing up my classroom and apartment almost entirely alone. Thankfully some family members and three close family friends were able to help here and there. However, I was sad that people I consider to be close friends told me they were too tired to help, or should do homework... Some people here have said that they are too busy and have not offered time to talk on days when they could make time to do so. 

What I have come to realize is that I am expecting people to do two things: do what they have promised and act how I would act. If someone tells me they will do something, I expect that they will do it. Also, if the situation was reversed, I would drop anything to help out a friend. Lately I have been learning that I need to let go of those expectations. Otherwise, continual disappointment is in my future. 

Another difficult thing for me to deal with is being able to talk about how I am feeling, as I briefly mentioned before. Often times I have not mentioned my mom or talked about how I am doing. Most days it is easier not to think about my mom, my family back home, etc. The one person I told everything to is not able to talk with me any longer. The other people I wish to talk to in that way are 13-14 hours away by "phone." This makes it hard to talk often to my family and close friends back home. 

One awesome piece of news is that there is a student teacher here from NYACK and she is here for 6 weeks. We have hung out a few times and I am sure there will be much more in the upcoming weeks. I am thankful God has provided another friend to hang out with on a regular basis. I am also thankful for my friend Heather who also works at Dalat. Her and I are the lone single ladies on campus. Even though we have completely opposite schedules, we work at trying to see each other some during the week (if possible), but especially on weekends. Also, I am thankful that Doug and Marsha Yost are still here. I lived with them during part of my time in Malaysia doing my student teaching. 

God is teaching me to rely even more fully on Him. He has provided me with all that I need and then some. :) The song "Blessings" by Laura Story is one that sticks out in my mind. Blessings may be tears or trials of this life. God never said life was going to be easy. He said that He will never leave us, help us through it, and be blessed.