God’s 2:00 am Plan

For as long as I can remember, I have always been drawn to international missions, but whenever I imagined foreign evangelism, I assumed a traditional ministry mindset. Whatever that means.

I grew up as a church staff kid, where my parents tirelessly served behind the scenes, and yet there I was, seemingly daydreaming about going across seas whenever a missionary came and talked about their foreign ministry. The passion was like a well-lit flame under my behind, and I knew being a missionary was my life’s calling. However, I am reminded to answer the question; “how do you know for sure?”
Other than my faith and passion, there’s a story: my first mission trip in 2010 to Denver, Colorado. While in Denver, the next day after my team and I arrived, we went to help out at a local food pantry. Two guys asked to pray and anoint me and one other of the team members. To this day, I see it as God’s anointing me for the rest of my life in ministry. Even when I have tender moments of doubt, God affirms me through scripture, and somehow even others around me remind me, God has big plans.
I have no reason to be concerned about my life’s purpose.

Since ministry is a big part of who I am, I have come along my parents to serve. The first time I remember serving was in a Portable Church in Birmingham, Michigan with my dad where we would set up and tear down with a team. The younger me would probably tell you how much fun it was to roll around on the small wooden platforms for the chairs, but since then, I have grown up some. In my last two years of high school before moving away, I also served in a portable church in Rio Rancho, New Mexico, in addition to children’s ministry and tech team. There is also a miscellaneous year of Christian camp ministry thrown in there too. I’m not sure where that fits in.

Then amidst my plans to be a missionary, and to transfer to Moody Bible Institute, Chicago this Fall to study Discipleship and Evangelism is God’s 2:00 am plan.

God’s 2:00 am plan is to study pre-counseling at Moody, Chicago and work with refugees in camps across the world. Come to think about it, there’s more sense to it than I imagined. Especially, since the crisis is not getting any better any time soon. It is not a bad road to go down, plus, I do not mind the traveling part. Now just to get my acceptance letter… However, as I have processed this over the past few days I realized how I can relate to refugees. I may not have had to flee to a refugee camp for safety because my home country is unsafe, but I understand what it is like to feel like not having a home. After all, in the past 20 years of my life, I have lived in four states and moved nine times. Okay, so it is nationally in the United States, and I hated moving at first, what’s your point?

I wonder, is this a change of plans, or a revelation of God’s plan for me all along. I do not know, but what I do know is that it is a bad answer to a good question. But here are three reasons why I would not do anything else, except ministry with my life.

  1.  I will not live the lie of the American Dream. I do not care about money, prosperity, and fame. Not the life for me
  2.  God is better. His kingdom is eternal and I won’t invest in anything less than worthy of His kingdom. Earth is not my home. Why get comfortable here anyway?
  3.  I have no plan B. I am not joking. If the world goes to hell in a hand basket and if can’t return to the states, or if I am in the states and the world is unsafe, it is my job to proclaim the Gospel until I am burnt at the stake, or shot, or die of something else

“The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor.He has sent me to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”Luke 4:18-19


First Class Funeral

September 11, 2016 and September 29, 2016 death greeted my family with a kiss of pneumonia. The unexpected loss of goodbye left me on the verge of another story about going home.

September seventh I received a call from my mom about our dear family friend Elizabeth being in the hospital with pneumonia.
“The doctor gave her two-to-three days to live.  My mom said holding back tears.

My only available responses the entire time were,
“I wish I could be there for her!” 

A few days earlier mom told me Elizabeth went into the hospital and said Elizabeth finally agreed to move in with the family.  I couldn’t be happier! I worried about Elizabeth living alone for sometime because of her health among other reasons, but Elizabeth wanted to stay independent for as long as possible and for her to finally live with my family I didn’t have to worry about my family driving 40 minutes away if something happened to her.

Two hours before Elizabeth’s death I had been doing homework for my Introduction to Ministry class when God compelled me to call Elizabeth once last time and extend the offer to accept Jesus Christ as her Lord and Savior. I worried more about Elizabeth’s salvation in those last days of her life than I ever did, but I’m not sure what that says about me as an evangelist. I called and as I heard her voicemail answer I chocked back tears before actually crying moments later. I couldn’t sleep, and I couldn’t do home work, so I texted my mom and she assured me Elizabeth was in a good place spiritually and pastor Dan Cooley thought so too. Midnight came and my dad called me,

“Elizabeth passed away.”

My family. (2014)
My family. (2014)

I briefly grieved and somehow got back to my life as a busy Moody student.  I admit, I miss calling Elizabeth every other week seeing how she’s doing  for no more than six minutes.

I called mom on Sunday to see how she was doing and she told me Elizabeth died peacefully with no struggle, Elizabeth’s friend Katy got the house and some money, but she left my family her car and some money for my tuition. A week and a half went by, and I settled into my new normal.

I texted my mom on Tuesday to see how my younger sister Emily’s boyfriend Macen was doing. Last I heard he got his Cannabis card to help with pain management caused by bone cancer and he took his GED to graduate high school so he could start his college career.
My mom emailed me back saying Macen wasn’t doing well and he was put on a breathing tube, but the day before Emily saw him and he was doing fine.

Macen and Emily
Macen and Emily

September 28 my dad called me at 2:30 in the afternoon,

“Macen died.” He said with tears in his voice. |
“No!” I responded knowing the effect of the loss would hit me later.
“Emily doesn’t know yet.”
“He was supposed to be my son in law! I was waiting for them to get married by a hospital bed and spend their short happy lives together.” My dad said with disappointment in his voice.
Macen was one thing thing that made Emily happy, they were best friends and I couldn’t wait to see them spend the rest of their lives together.

It wasn’t cancer that killed Macen. It was pneumonia.

“He was supposed to be the statistic that lived.” My mom shared as she reminded me it’s okay to be angry.

That’s the thing about cancer: it’s a ghost that lives inside of people and it never fully goes away. You can be in remission for a short time, but then it’s back at it again to haunt you and your loved ones.
Suppressed immune system because of chemo and pneumonia killed Macen. I’m not sure which one I want to curse more…

Knowing I had to go home and I started a GoFundMe page to get there with the help of some friends. Macen would not have wanted me to take off school for his memorial service and Emily was okay with me not being there too. Mom told me not to be angry if I didn’t make it home as she called me Eeyore. I had to be the big sister I needed to be and it wasn’t just the thought that counted to me.
I couldn’t just sit there, I already had three other people close to me die and I couldn’t be there for their funeral. My mind was rushing a mile a minute and I needed closure for once. I knew I had to go home. Wednesday I was depressed and unmotivated to do anything.
Go to class, not going. Doing homework? Not getting done. Adventure Club? I want to go, but no motivation either.
“After I get back we’re going to go to Hannah’s house, dance and be happy, and do homework, okay?” My housemate Mary said trying to be positive.
“Okay.” I said as I sat unmotivated watching videos on YouTube.
“God, if you want me to go back to New Mexico, give me the money by tomorrow afternoon.”
I put a deadline on God because that was the little scrap of faith I had left to give it up or get up and go.

I was trying to raise $950 in less than  48 hours.
afternoon I was nodding off in Old Testament Survey for the first hour because I was really exhausted because  of grieving  Mary said we would check the balance at the break and even when I asked about it apparently there were only small amounts of getting the funds up until that point. Not that Mary would tell me anything anyway.
Checking at break time I made it! $871 dollars plus the $50 someone gave me in cash. Overwhelmed because I was going home I gave my friends huge hugs. I was happy for one of two times that I was going back to Albuquerque. I called my mom on my friend Hannah’s phone because Mary hid mine back at the house, so I wouldn’t be tempted to look. My dad booked my flight, $1500 dollars and only first-class seats available I was going home. I forgot the first week of October was also Albuquerque’s International Balloon Fiesta and that may have explained the expensive price tag. Maybe I should curse that instead.

Life still goes on after death in this life. I still had to go back home to Spokane and test cram for a midterm and drink a Red Bull Italian soda to stay awake, Emily still has to carry on with getting ready to start school, the Holdermans still have to get back to their busy lives  and so does my family. Somehow we still have to face that maybe the worst is yet to come during the holidays, but maybe knowing that this won’t stop the rest of our lives, but for now time will fight us to remember our loved ones.

I don’t know why God does what He does in His time and I don’t know why this is the one way God comes chipping away at the stony parts of me.

In spite of Macen’s death I still believe the best is yet to come for Emily and the Holdermans. I see God working in Jack, Clay and Emily’s lives in choosing radically to go to Haiti this next summer. It’s God in the process of breaking our hearts to start again and beat with new life in a candle of hope.

Even for me, God is changing my story. God is changing my story because the one I had before I didn’t want. Before Macen’s memorial service I had other family members die and I was unable to go to their funeral and/or memorial service and is God changing my story.

It’s not  over yet, death is not final and God is still writing stories here.

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