a moment of transparency

I need to be needed. I need a purpose.

This is one of my more recent conclusions. I have, however, not yet determined if this is detrimental, purely selfish, okay or possibly even positive.

I hate this in between time. I am tired of being transitory.

In Ukraine I’m needed. In Ukraine I have purpose. Here  I feel useless, out of place and constantly calculating my deficits.

It feels like I am always behind, waiting for a miracle to materialize, and forever unsure of what to do or say.

I know it is just a season. I know God has everything in control. I “know” a lot but somehow that hasn’t stopped me from melting into a puddle of tears on an almost daily basis.

“Why are you downcast, O my soul?
Why so disturbed within me?
Put your hope in God,
for I will yet praise him,
my Savior and my God.”
Psalm 42:11

 

 

 

It’s Strangely Quiet Here

Training camp is over and I am back home in my nice, comfortably large bed in my cozy, warm room, which is oddly entirely too quiet and filled with too few people. There are no silly conversations and familiar giggles to fall asleep to and no one to call me “Pridge.”

This morning I awoke, as if by habit, around 7:30 a.m. and remembering that I was not responsible for anyone or anything today I quickly rolled back over and slumbered to the sounds of a thunderstorm and the feel of Hershey the dog curled at my feet.

When I did finally decide to remove myself from such comfort I was reminded of my swollen, pained knee the instant my feet touched the floor; however, unhindered in my pursuit of coffee I trekked downstairs.

I am happy to report that I did NOTHING today except to make myself lunch and start reading The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins. It kind of makes me think of what you would get if you put 1984, The Giver and the show Survivor all in one, and while it did not have me on paragraph one, it certainly captured my attention by the end of chapter one. I haven’t even finished and I think I already recommend it.

I promise some more training camp photos. I may even find the way to write something serious in the next few days. For now I am going to finish my book, ice my knee and do a little more recuperating from the past week and a half.

Anything in particular you want to hear about, let me know and I’ll see what I can do ; )

WRTC

Currently I am sitting in a rocking chair, overlooking a valley full of fall colors and enjoying the cool breeze brushing against my skin.

In these north Georgia mountains it is training camp for almost 200 World Racers. The hills echo with declarations of God’s freedom, love, healing and amazing grace -the sound of a generation seeking the Kingdom of God and coming alive in the knowledge of Him.

It’s a beautiful thing.

Here are a few photos from the past few days.

All photos property of  © 2010, Stephanie Pridgen   
All Rights Reserved.

Of Tuk-Tuk Drivers and Thai Bars

If you spent only a few weeks in a city of approximately 1,328,000 people on the other side of the world, would you expect that your main transportation contact would remember your name a year and a half later?

I wouldn’t.

However, I received this e-mail from my teammate Tim Dixon who is out on the field squad leading:

I was seeing a team off Monday morning that was going to Siem Reap and heard a familiar voice call out my name, and it was Puun.  My memory is terrible and so I didn’t remember his name until after our conversation but he proceeded to name off all of you and ask where you were.  It was a complete encouragement for me because sometimes when you just spend a month in a place and move on you wonder what impact you had.  Well a tuk tuk driver we worked with in month 3 remembers our names over a year and a half later.

Honestly it made me shed a few tears.

Team Manna with Puun

It also reminded me of one of my girls in Thailand, Ae. The first night I met her in the bar I doodled while she served other customers and at the end of the evening I handed the picture to her. I don’t remember what it was, but I do remember her reaction and it was shock that she was on the receiving end of a thoughtful gesture. She had a precious, gentle nature about her but it was evident in our conversations that she felt worthless and without much hope.

Several months ago I received an email with picture attachments. Ae was smiling, joyful and surrounded by people. She is no longer working in the bar but is on staff with a Christian organization that “reaches out to women and teens working in the red-light district who are in, at-risk of, and coming out of prostitution and trafficking.”

When you travel so much and only live somewhere for a few weeks you wonder if it really made an impact. It is encouraging when you find out it did.

I encourage you to intentionally build relationships with others, even if it is only for a short season, you never know how God may use that time in their life… and yours.

What If You Commit

Seth Barnes posted a great blog today on the need for commitment despite an unknowable future. Here is an excerpt:

Too many people want to keep their options open and miss the opportunity that commitment affords. If I could give my children’s generation a gift, I’d get them out of their coffee shops and parents’ basements and I’d give them the gift of commitment. You’ll never find your future until you launch – you find it as you commit.  (for the rest of the blog, click here)

This summer I intensely waffled for weeks over a decision to step into full time missions abroad even though it has been part of my daily prayers for much longer. I knew God’s answer long before I gave mine. It required a level of commitment that frightened me. What if I fail? What if I can’t handle it? What if I can’t raise the support? What if…

Zambian wedding

For two years I read blogs and pondered pursuing the World Race and then held onto my application for another couple of months. What if I couldn’t raise the support? What if I was in a situation where I needed to swim (I was convinced I needed swimming lessons just in case)?  What if …

For a decade or more I have considered what it would be like to design a line of greeting cards, write a book, and, in general, have a creative business that would not only generate income but be used to touch lives around the world. What if the world critiques your creativity? What if it’s not good enough? What if…

I am part of the generation Seth speaks about, the ones that do not like to commit. It seems so boxed in, confining, FINAL. What if you commit to something and then a better opportunity comes along? What if it doesn’t?

Commitment brings responsibility and the potential for failure and letting others down. All things I avoid like the plague. But why?

I think I hold onto this wrong idea that I have to know, without question or doubt, what I want to do, where I want to go and the 10 easy steps to accomplish it. I want all the answers. I want the rewards without the risk. I want instant gratification. Commitment gives you none of that.

In a culture of sound bytes, fast food and one night stands I think waiting, hard work and commitment is cheapened. We are always looking for the easy, speedy, guaranteed solution, which works for, say, deciding what washing machine to purchase, but is a completely errant decision making process for life.

I have committed to helping university students in Ukraine. I am terrified of the winter ahead, unsure of how support will come through and completely removed from my comfort zone. For some reason I think that is just what God intends. One thing I can say for certain is that there was more freedom, joy and peace AFTER I committed.

However, I’m still working on committing to greeting cards and novels.

Why do you think it is so hard to commit? Is there something you need to stop wavering on and commit to?

A Summer in Photos: Ukraine Part 2

 

Babushkas on a Bench

 

 

ёжик в тумане ("Hedgehog in the Fog") monument

 

 

Vika and Nastia look like they are up to something

 

 

An acoustic afternoon

 

 

Until we meet again

 

 

Scrapbook Love

 

 

Just what I need for survival

 

 

Conversations over pizza

 

 

Sushi Happiness

 

 

A Walk in the Park

 

 

Soli Deo Honor Et Gloria

 

All photos property of  © Stephanie Pridgen 2010   
All Rights Reserved.

A Summer in Photos: Ukraine Part 1

 

On the Streets of Lviv

 

The Percussion Duo

 

To Be a Radish

 

Wall Flowers

 

Bracelet Making

 

Identity: The Crowd Fades Away

 

I will wait for you in Odessa

 

Pondering Stalin

 

Slava Ukraina (Glory to Ukraine)

 

Purple Maze

 

Conquering the Wall

 

All photos property of  © Stephanie Pridgen 2010   
All Rights Reserved.

Between the Stands and the Field

“You could read volumes on the work of the Holy Spirit, when five minutes of total, uncompromising obedience would make things as clear as sunlight.” – Oswald Chambers

Sometimes I think my interaction with Holy Spirit is like being a football fan versus a football player.

One of the reasons I love autumn so much is because it is football season. I have never even been to a professional football game but I have spent countless hours jumping up and down, yelling at refs that couldn’t hear me and telling players how they are doing. I watch intently and listen to the play-by-plays. I compliment and criticize. When it is all over, if my team won, I gloat and revel in the victory.

Sometimes I stand in the crowd when Holy Spirit is working and I jump up and down, get excited, or scream and shout. Other times I step back and analyze, like giving a play-by-play I take in all that is happening so I can adequately tell the story later or so I can critique it all in my effort to understand what is really going on. I watch and listen, compliment and criticize. When it is all over, I rejoice with others around me.

The problem?

In both scenarios I am nothing but a spectator, standing on the sidelines. Close to all the action, surrounded by the sights, sounds and smells but still at a distance, safe, not really involved.

I am also a visual tactile learner, meaning I have to see it AND do it or get my hands on it for it to make sense or for it to stick. I can read the directions to a game all day long but if I don’t actually get in the  middle of it I never really understand and it is never any fun.

There is a huge difference between cheering in the stands and being in the game, getting tackled, bruised, and hit. The playing field can be brutal. It is challenging. Things don’t always go the way you planned. But it is also exciting. There is reward for the suffering and there is a special bond between those who are on the field. In the end, the victory really means something because you were part of it.

muddy football
Photo by Vince Petaccio

What’s my point? I can study, seek out, analyze and hang around places where the Spirit is moving, but if I don’t step out in obedience to what He has already revealed I will always just be on the sidelines cheering. I don’t know about you but I’m tired of living on the sidelines. I don’t want to just read about miracles, I want to be one of the ones praying for them and seeing them become reality. I don’t want to just cheer on people who are bringing the Kingdom to earth, I want to be part of bringing Kingdom to earth.

How about you? Are you cheering from the sidelines or are you in the game? Are you a fan of Holy Spirit or part of His team?

 

Overflowing Cupboards

There are times when having someone, who knows absolutely nothing about you, pray over you is a God send. Today was one of those.

My alarm went off bright and early. Fumbling around with my eyes still closed I found the source and the snooze button simultaneously. Coming around to consciousness I realized that yesterday’s headache decided it wanted to party today too and I briefly considered texting Tonya to say I was going to be a no show and then retreat back under my warm comforter.

Deciding that was giving the enemy too much enjoyment I forced myself out of bed. Of course there was no time to make coffee, which this morning translated into my going the wrong way down the interstate.

Fast forward to the service though and worship was one of those times when the presence of God is so thick you can hardly stand it. The man who spoke had just returned from ministering in Australia and had some powerful testimonies to share of how God is moving there (which made me once more really want to go to Australia… ahhhh one day!!). Toward the end of service the leadership came around and prayed for everyone.

There were several things spoken over me that resonated within my spirit, knowing that these people know nothing about me. There was one that almost undid me though.

“God has seen the times you have done without. He has seen that you are willing to give it all up. He knows you are willing to do without, but you are His daughter in whom He is well pleased and you don’t need to lack. He sees your willingness and He loves your willingness but He is about to fill the cupboards. Oh and it is going to be filled with your favorite things, not other people’s favorite things, but yours. Get ready because God is about to pour out favor in a way that you have never experienced.”

That’s it… I was in tears. Just this morning I had debated if I wanted breakfast, knowing that if I ate breakfast I wouldn’t have money for lunch. My phone has been silent pertaining to getting a job and, honestly, I have been fighting quite the battle with discouragement.

I have also been pondering this idea of lack. Debt destroys in so many ways and I have seen it all my life. It angers me to see how the enemy has stolen from my family. It frustrates me to know that I have my own looming cloud of debt that is always pressing at the edges of my mind. It baffles me to try and figure out what to do about it.

I’m not saying someone is going to come along and pay my way out and life will be a field of sunflowers (though I definitely wouldn’t turn it away). But it gave me another reassurance that God knows and God cares and even though I have no answers right now… He does.