Tag Archives: Africa

100 Followers, and Almost 4 Years of Sunflower Sojourn!

Sunflower Sojourn has hit 100 followers! Yet whether I have 1 follower or 100, I’ll still keep writing on. Thank you to all 100 of you who are following, whether you’ve been following for years or for a week!

I remember when I began this blog almost 4 years ago. I was living with my family and on the job search. I felt discouraged and encouraged at the same time by my progress. (Little did I know what God was up to–I didn’t need to even be looking for a job, because my dream job would be handed to me!) I had some extra time on my hands due to not working full-time. I felt the pull to minister through the written word. Thus began this blog!

Here are a few of the happenings that have occurred in the 4 years I’ve been keeping this blog:

I “met” another blogger who just so happened to live in the same city. At a time when I was feeling nudged to move, she just so happened to have an extra room in her house. We lived together for close to a year, one of the most blessed living situations I’ve had so far in my life. (And no, I don’t believe that the situations listed above are coincidences. I believe in God’s hand in each detail of our lives!) She’s still someone I would consider one of my best friends. I’m thankful God used our blogs to connect us!

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My dream of visiting Africa came true in 2016! It was a miracle how I was able to go on the trip. Miracles abounded throughout the entire trip itself as well. I am forever grateful and look forward to my next visit, whenever it may be! There are a few other countries high on my list and where I’ve felt Him leading me for years. God, You can do it again!

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I made a career change. Ok, it’s still in process and will be awhile before I can actually practice! Yet I look forward to the day when I can walk with others on their journey to healing and wholeness as a counselor.

Most of all, I’ve seen many miracles! One of those miracles is my visit to Africa, mentioned above! I’ve been in awe of God’s workings in my life the past 4 years. I can’t wait to see how He works in the next 4 years! Where will He take me?

Where will He take this blog? I look forward to finding out!

Thanks for reading along! As always, let me know if you’d like me to post on anything in particular!

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Single Sundays-The Gifts of Singleness.

The gifts of singleness? You might be tempted to shut out of this post now. Bear with me. I’m on the single journey too. I know there are very difficult days. There are aspects of singleness that are consistently difficult. However, today we will focus on the gifts. Despite the pain, there are always positive aspects to be found. Finding gratitude helps to keep a positive attitude and live in the blessings.

So, what are some of the gifts of the single life?

The single life can more easily be devoted to service/ministry. As a single person, it is

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easier to live a life of service or devoted to ministry. I can think of many occasions where I was able to go help a friend due to my single state. A mother with little ones can’t drop everything to help a friend. A spouse must think about how their service work or ministry will impact their marriage and family life. St. Paul tells us in 1 Corinthians 7:32-34: “I would like you to be free from concern. An unmarried man is concerned about the Lord’s affairs—how he can please the Lord. But a married man is concerned about the affairs of this world—how he can please his wife—and his interests are divided. An unmarried woman or virgin is concerned about the Lord’s affairs: Her aim is to be devoted to the Lord in both body and spirit. But a married woman is concerned about the affairs of this world—how she can please her husband.” Truly, living single-heartedly for the Kingdom is much easier as a single person! The time and space to build an unshakable relationship with God is a huge blessing of the single life.

The single life provides a degree of freedom that married people don’t have. This can mean travel, more time to invest in writing or other projects, and of course, ministry or easier ability to do mission work. It can also mean greater availability to invest in relationships with members of your faith family, blood family, friends, and even people you may serve as a mentor to. I enjoy the flexibility of singleness. I don’t need to check in with someone else (or multiple people!) about my calendar but can plan as I wish! It is simple. I also find a bit of financial freedom despite the single life meaning only one income. At least in America, many people have debt. Getting married can mean double the student loans, car payment, and credit card debt to manage. (Note: I don’t believe debt is normally a good thing. Unfortunately, it is the reality for many Americans.)

A single life is one with a single person’s problems. One could also argue that marriage is easier because it gives you another person to sustain you in trouble. However, two families bring two different dynamics and two different sets of troubles-plus the troubles within your own home and marriage. Additionally, the stressors of being a parent can be overwhelming for anyone. Add special needs to the plate, helping a child through bullying, or trusting the Lord to provide for the family when the economy is bad–parenting is painful! Learning to love your spouse through the times when they are not at their best can also be difficult–such as if a spouse is diagnosed with a mental illness or facing their troubles from the past. The troubles of a single person pale in comparison to adding a spouse, their family troubles, and children’s struggles as well! (Though I know singles look forward to pouring out love in these circumstances–we have a bit of a break now!)

A longer single life provides more time to attain wisdom, life experience, and clarity about p1030501.jpgyour calling(s) and the direction of your life. Had some of us married younger, we may have missed out on certain aspects of ourselves. These aspects may very well be important to a marriage and perhaps even a shared ministry! For example, during the past decade the Lord has confirmed to me that Africa will continue to play a part in my life. Thus, if I had married someone lacking a love for Africa, I would have missed out on a huge joy and part of my life. I know now that the Lord has someone for me who will be willing to live in countries other than the USA. In His infinite wisdom, the Lord has given me more time to discover these aspects of my calling. I believe it is the same for you, if you have been waiting longer than expected!

Don’t lose heart. There are gifts in the season of singleness, just as there are deep struggles.

Live joyfully in the gifts of today, and you will be able to better receive the gifts of tomorrow.

“I wish that all of you were as I am. But each of you has your own gift from God; one has this gift, another has that.”~1 Corinthians 7:7

Have you discovered any other gifts in singleness that were not mentioned here?

Highlights of 2016

It’s difficult to believe that 2016 is almost over! I feel as if the year was swift, yet when I look back, it’s hard to believe how much happened!

Let’s start with something that will begin in early 2017. My patron for 2016, randomly chosen through the Saint Name Generator, turned out to be significant. It was St. Ignatius of Loyola. I have been a fan of the Examen and Ignatian discernment for a number of years. It turns out that one of his patronages also became important in my life. He’s the patron of educators and education. This year, I really felt the Lord nudging me to go back to school. After an interesting journey, I was accepted to the program of my choice! I will be starting as a part-time grad student for an M.A. in Counseling, as of January!

The year started out rough. Within the first week of the year I was ill. There was a high

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amount of drama at my workplace. It was a struggle. Through it all, I learned to lean on Christ even more. Reading the Scriptures & knowing my Creator through this became more important to me than ever before.

My city had a lot of victories. In June, I went to the parade celebrating our basketball team winning the NBA title! It was really a great celebration and a show of unity for a city that has had many setbacks and much division. The next month we hosted the Republican National Convention-and the candidate won the presidential election! Months later, the baseball team went to the World Series (though we did not win). In God’s eyes, this city is not “The Mistake on the Lake.” He is at work in this city.

I moved in with a roommate. Financially, this was a great decision. Even moreso, it is a benny-cuddle-2blessing to have a companion on the journey & who is also seeking God. She gets the journey. Not long after moving to the new place, a seeming “super-mouse” pushed me over the edge to adopt a cat. Though he did nothing to help with the mouse, he’s brought much laughter. (And praise God–the mouse (mice?) are gone. May they never return to our home.)

 

For the second year in a row, one of my reflections was published in a book! This time, it was a book written by my very own roomie! It’s a raw reflection about a relationship breaking up, but I pray it ministers to someone who may be in a similar situation.

I visited Africa, finally! It’s difficult to put into words how much this experience affected me and the joys it brought. I am so thankful for the miraculous way God brought it about. The whole trip and all His movements on the trip, too, were truly miraculous! I will be forever grateful.forblog

Truly, this was a year of beauty. Thank You, Heavenly Father. I look forward to 2017 and whatever adventures may lie ahead.

Happy New Year’s to all my readers! May our Heavenly Father bless, direct, and strengthen you in all your ways.

“Brothers, I do not consider myself to have embraced it yet. But this one thing I do: Forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead.”~Philippians 3:13

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Reflecting on Christmas and Gifts

“Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.”~James 1:17

This time of year we celebrate the greatest, most perfect gift the world has ever seen: Jesus Christ! God the Father sent us His only Son as a gift. Jesus Christ coming as a human being enabled us to have a personal relationship with God, a more intimate relationship. All along the Father knew that His Son would suffer a horrific death. He sacrificed His only Son for wretched human beings! But He knew that this would bring salvation for His children. The gift of relationship with Jesus Christ is one that can’t be beat. And the gift of salvation? It’s an eternal gift!

I have asked for many gifts throughout my lifetime. In this post I am thinking specifically of gifts that I have asked of my Heavenly Father. Some gifts I have asked for years, but they are not gifts He has seen fit to give me–at least not yet. Instead, He’s given me many other gifts–gifts that have blessed my life abundantly and made my heart full.

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I have an amazing roommate. I am a hugely independent person. If one year ago you would have told me I’d be sharing a house, I wouldn’t have believed you. Having a companion to share life with has been one of the biggest blessings of this year. Especially a roommate that God truly chose and made it clear to us that this was an open door from Him. Our temperaments and our vision for life are so alike.christmas-party-cute

I have Benny, an amazingly affectionate kitty. I was “maybe” going to get a cat. Then he put his paw on my arm and looked up at me. So he came home with me. Never in my life have I met a cat like him. I am so grateful he is mine to care for and love. Every day he provides laughter to us with his antics.The Lord knew I needed him.benny-cuddle-2

The Heavenly Father has given me a job that allows me to interact with my brothers and sisters from around the world daily–one of my greatest joys. And this year, He gave me the long-awaited opportunity to travel across the world!

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I could go on and on. The thing is, what I’ve noticed is that nearly all of these gifts were unexpected. They weren’t what I prayed for, but they were still answered prayers. I didn’t ask for these gifts, but I needed them greatly. And I am so grateful. My heart is happy and full.

What great gifts from our Father are we not seeing because we’re simply focused on the ones we don’t have?

Our Father is a good, good Father!

Blessing is Beyond Fear

I have written before about open doors and my dream come true. Finally, the dream was almost here!

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The week of my trip had arrived! However, I wasn’t feeling the jubilation that I had anticipated. In fact, I was feeling completely stressed out and weary. I didn’t realize how much my stressful job had taken a toll on me, especially nearly a year of work with barely any time off. I got sick days before leaving. Two days before my flight there was a big work event for my program, which didn’t help my stress or my health. Time was short and I felt like more and more was being added to my list to do before leaving. I felt overwhelmed.

I called a friend for support. It was the night before my flight and I was so worn out. My friend was firm with me and very honestly told me that he thought I was afraid & that my sickness was caused by apprehension. He told me to stop worrying so much about the packing and other details and to get ready for a great trip. I pondered his words. Even though I had dreamed for years and years of Africa, perhaps deep down I was a little afraid. I’m accustomed to my predictable daily life. So much was unknown about this trip. I was definitely going to be thrown out of my comfort zone. I was afraid of the unknowns and what could go wrong instead of being joyful about my dream finally coming true. 

I finally got packed and stopped worrying about what I could be forgetting. I still had a minor cold on the plane ride, but my stress melted away as the plane traveled closer to the place I had loved and dreamed of visiting for so long. I let go of all my worries from home and prayed and journaled on the flight. From beginning to end, the trip was a blessing. Why had I been so apprehensive? It was for nothing! The trip was one of the biggest blessings of my life. The way the Lord provided for this trip was a miracle, and so was all the ways that He provided and worked while we were there. I have been to Africa. It was the first time, but I know…It is only the beginning.forblog.jpg

When we are afraid, there are blessings beyond the fear. Let go of the fear you tightly grip onto, and let God! You never know what the blessings are that lay beyond your fears.