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Saturday, April 16, 2011

"PUSH"


Background: OCD Brandon and Ridiculous Kolby are in the front seat of Brandon’s car on our way to ancient Philippi.

“So Brandon, what is this "push" button for?” – Kolby


“Well that’s a great question Kolby because I have no idea.” – Brandon


“I just pushed it and nothing happened. Why would it say push if nothing is going to happen?” – Kolby


“Ya know, every time I sit on that side of the car I have tried to push that button and nothing happens. So I guess the world will never know what it's for.” – Brandon


(Kolby, pushing the button)


“It’s actually very annoying. But for some reason I never stop trying to push it. I guess I think that one day I will just push it and it will actually work.” – Brandon


(Kolby is still pushing the button)





POP!

“Wait, What?? Are you kidding me?? I’ve tried pushing that button SEVERAL times and it NEVER did ANYTHING!” – Brandon


(the whole car is laughing)


“I guess you need to be a man like me Brandon so you can push a button and turn it into a cup holder.” – Kolby


We found out later that "SEVERAL" means a lot to Brandon... I always thought that it meant like 4-7. So basically he's pushed that button a LOT. HAHA!

If you didn’t laugh, sorry I wasted your time… This was a hilarious moment in the car yesterday and I want to remember it forever! J

Laughing and Dancing


How to put into words what God has taken me through this week, I simply don’t know how to do. So, even those I've used this piece before, I’ll start off with the Word that never fails…

“There is an appointed time for everything. And there is a time for every event under heaven… A time to plant and a time to uproot what is planted; A time to weep and a time to laugh; a time to mourn and a time to dance…” from Ecclesiastes 3

Satan attacked me this week and there were times that I felt like I had lost a battle even though I know my God has already won the war. I was so depressed about leaving Greece. I focused on how hard it would be to say goodbye to my new friends and family I have here. Several nights were filled with tears and I wasn’t letting go of the pain. It still hurts and makes me squirm to think of leaving, but out of the whirlwind…

God spoke to me.

  • He used His loving hands to hold me and remind me that, wherever I’m at in the world, I am His to be used for His glory.
  • He used His beautiful flowers to show me how He wants to give me peace and how He is the only one who can give it.
  • He used my wonderful husband to tell me that He has already blessed me more than I deserve.
  • He used my friend Omid to shout to me that He still has a lot of work in this city for me to do.
  • He used His Word to show me that His ways are much more mysterious than I could ever comprehend… and that this is a good thing.
  • And finally He used brothers and sisters to tell me that He still wants to use me, but I have got to let Him.

As my Dad told me tonight, “You shouldn’t be thinking that far ahead.” And I know he is right because Jesus says, “So do not worry about tomorrow; for tomorrow will care for itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.” Matthew 6:34

So for the next month and a half I’m going to laugh and dance. And when it’s time to weep and mourn, I will. Because life is life. I choose to daily hang on to the only One who is eternal.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Real friends tell their friends about God


Yesterday I got to spend most of the day with 3 girl friends that are very new in my life, yet with whom I share a precious bond with.

Before coming here to Greece Kolby and I were trained on many things such as culture shock, how to teach people who think differently than you, and how to be safe when living in a big city. Several other Americans went through training with us and 3 of the girls who were there decided to come to Greece for a vacation. I was so excited! This was strange to me, because they aren’t girls that I would consider close friends. Even since we have left training we haven’t contacted each other very much at all. After a little thought I realized that I am so crazy passionate about this city and the people here that I want to share the goodness God has shown me here with anyone that will listen! The perfect audience quickly became 3 new friends who had no idea how to get around Thessaloniki, didn’t want to spend money on real touristy kind of stuff, and could communicate with me in quick and clear English. Only 2 of the friends were able to go for a few hours with me, but thankfully I was able to catch up with the 3rd friend later and fill her in.

Of course it wasn’t like having my best friends in the world or my family coming to experience this culture that I love. But it was such a blessing to have friends with a heart for my God come and listen to me tell all that I could about Navarino, Valentinos, the White Tower, and English classes. We even got to go inside the White Tower! This was a first for me! The view is absolutely gorgeous at the top and I can’t wait to take my husband up there to get some pictures!!

Ok, back to what I was trying to get at…

Last night I started on the book of Job. I’ve just recently figured out that I really love reading poetic books of the Bible and since I’ve never read the whole book of Job I decided to give it a try. I got to chapter 11 and decided to get some rest late last night, but I’m really glad I started on this book! I read the horrible beginning of how everything was stripped away from Job in a heartbeat and I read of his horrible physical pain that quickly followed. His faith from the beginning of it all really spoke to me and challenged me as I read, “Naked I came from my mother’s womb and naked I shall return there. The LORD gave and the LORD has taken away. Blessed be the name of the LORD.”

I kept reading and learned how his friends came to sympathize with him. Such a precious verse to me was, “and they made an appointment together to come to sympathize with him and comfort him.”

I’ve always been taught to look at his friends as people who were heartless and critical. People who didn’t really didn’t care for Job and discouraged him. But as I’m reading through the book, granted I’m not finished with it, I am seeing that his friends were probably really wise men. They were saying things that books are written on today and many things they said were truth! Job was such a godly man and I would have to assume that he had friends in his life who were also godly. When he was in such pain, they all came to comfort him and sat on the ground in silence for 7 whole days and nights because they knew that he was in such pain. One doesn’t see love and loyalty like that just anywhere.

I believe that Job’s friends couldn’t see what God was doing in Job’s life and were trying their best to give him guidance that they thought would make him better. Poor Job was in so much physical and emotional pain that it’s obvious why he jumps on their responses quickly. He knew better than they did what was going on in his heart and life, even though he had no clue what was actually happening in the spiritual world.

I know that in the end God judges Job’s friends for their words and although it sounds like I’m veering away from that point I’m really not. Job’s friends didn’t seek God to find out what was going on in the situation. They pointed it all to Job. Although their advice and words are absolutely excellent, in Job’s situation their words were pointless. Job’s friends were saying things that they wouldn’t have said if they were looking to God and not to Job. They were encouraging Job to look at himself and not to God. And the opposite of that is what the whole book of Job is about! Realizing how big our God is and how little we are. I can’t wait until I get to the part where God really makes that clear in the book, but until I read that later today I’m dwelling on friends.

Reading this first part of Job and discussing it with my husband has really convicted me of how I can be like this. I can give good advice or speak truthful things, without looking to God and pointing it all to God. Without pointing it all to God and giving all the glory to Him, my words of advice and truth are worthless.

Yesterday when we walked around town and I told them the little bit of the culture that I could, I really realized there were lots of questions I couldn’t clearly answer. I’m not a Greek and honestly Greeks aren’t our real focus here because we focus on refugees. So I’m really far from being an expert on Greek culture. There were a few times I just had to say I don’t know! J A touristy day around Thessaloniki with Paige isn’t like friends who were sitting around mourning and discussing life with Job, but I want all the words that I speak to point to Him. I don’t want to have useless words of advice that make people look at themselves. I want all that I say to point to my God.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Proverbs 21:1


Our hearts are like channels of water in the hand of the Lord; He turns them wherever He wishes.

I was going to title this post as “Got some news to share!” or something like that, but thought better of it when I realized everyone would think that we’re pregnant or something bizarre like that.

So to go ahead and put off the real news some more and affirm you to not get excited about this little DePratter family growing already…

No, we’re not pregnant.

But we do have pretty wonderful news to share.

As most of our friends and family members know, since we’ve been married Kolby and I have responded to the question (that has been asked in oh so many various ways) “So, what are you two going to do with your lives?” with a vague reply and the answer always ending with “but of course, we really don’t know”.

And today, although the answer will still include that risky ending, I have to say that we definitely have received some clarity from the Creator of the plans for our lives.

Last September/October Kolby and I were presented with several opportunities for this 2011 year. From youth ministry, to secular jobs, to going overseas - we had a wide variety of options to choose from. If you have ever been in a similar situation you know that this doesn’t make things easier, it makes them way harder! We kept telling friends, “If we only had one option things would make more sense because it would be obvious what we should do!!!”

After a lot of praying and God clearly showing His purpose for this 2011 year, we decided to take the opportunity to go overseas. Ups and downs, darkness and light - we are in looooove. Not the emotional kind (even though there is definitely some of that going on), but the kind where we can’t help but to choose to marry this lifestyle forever.

And that’s exactly what we’ve done.

Kolby heard from God that our lives are meant to be lived primarily overseas. Kolby is very careful about not pushing things on me or even presenting them in a way that could overwhelm me (that may sound ridiculous to others, but I deeply appreciate this about him). So Kolby prayed that God would show me and I would say something to him about what God was doing in my own heart. Two days later I frustratingly asked Kolby, “Why do you get so anxious when people bring up living forever internationally? Do you think this life isn’t meant for us? Why couldn’t we do this forever? It’s almost like we were designed by God for this kind of work!”

Kolby just laughed at me.

Which annoyed me because I thought the laughter meant something along the lines of, “Oh silly Paige. You just like it here right now, but you don’t know what God is telling you.”

So I went to take a nap. Kolby woke me up an hour later not hesitating a moment to tell me, “I was laughing because I prayed for God to show you this and He did!!”

It took me a few seconds of waking up to grab hold of what he was talking about. I was so excited and frustrated with him at the same time that I just started laughing and asking why he didn’t tell me this before!

So there it is! We’re called by our Father to live a life overseas doing any kind of work He calls us to.

What this will look like – We don’t know

Where we will go – We don’t know

When we will leave the states again after we return in June – We don’t know

Lots of unanswered questions, but what we cling to is that before we left Kolby and I said that we hoped this trip would give us some more direction for our lives than we have had so far.

Obviously our Father has answered this request in a beautiful way!

Sunday, April 3, 2011

WELCOME TO GREECE - WELCOME TO MACEDONIA


If any of you know the history of Skopje (pronounced Skopia) and Greece then you know that crossing the border between the two can be a funny experience. Skopje is actually the country Macedonia. But don’t tell a Greek that I said so! Greeks believe that their whole area is the former Macedonia. Just look in the Bible and it really does clear up that even where we are in Thessaloniki is part of ancient Macedonia. So Greeks call the country Skopje (the name of their capital city - which is actually where Mother Theresa was born! Ok gotta stay focused…). Truth be told, both areas are actually probably historically Macedonia. But I guess this is just their way to express their nationalism. When we first crossed the border into Skopje there was a sign that read “Welcome to Macedonia!” and as we crossed over the border back into Greece there was a sign that read “Welcome to Greece – Welcome to Macedonia!” As one friend stated, “Even a rational person will get very heated over the topic!” So let’s veer away from that issue for a while…

I love being with other believers in my Jesus. I love being open, sharing life stories, sharing what God is teaching us… just simply sharing it all. I love the rawness of a new friendship and I love the sweetness that comes with age of an old friendship.

Yesterday we spent time with friends who we work with here in Greece while we traveled over the border into Skopje. Even though I was drugged up from the Dramamine I took that morning to keep from getting car sick, and pretty sleepy from the 5 hours of sleep I had gotten the night before, I’m so glad I wasn’t able to sleep during the bumpy car ride. I got to have good, even though groggy, conversation with a woman you can’t help but love! My friend D has become a precious friend to me and something I’ve desired a long time:

“Older women likewise are to be reverent in their behavior, not malicious gossips not enslaved to much wine, teaching what is good so that they may encourage the young women to love their husbands, to love their children, to be sensible, pure, workers at home, kind, being subject to their own husbands, so that the word of God will not be dishonored.” – Titus 2:3-8

There is an amazing little feisty black woman back in the states who has an opposite personality of D who did weekly bible studies with a group of young women at my house for about 3 months. It was a great time of learning, seeking, being real, and figuring out our purpose as Christian women. I usually met with her more than this one time a week (and so did the other girls) just to get some instruction, some guidance, or some hugs. J

For about a year I have read the passage above just yearning for a woman to really pour her spiritual life into mine, and within a year God has given me two wonderful women to do this!

I have an absolutely precious Mama who loves the Lord, but everyone knows… you don’t always want your mama to be your mentor, am I right ladies? J

So praise God that He has sent me these women!

Most of my talks with both women have to do with being real with ourselves and crying out to God for EVERYTHING. You know, even though it can come out in all kinds of crazy ways, these are some things all us women just usually aren’t good at.

Ecclesiastes and Proverbs have been on my heart a lot. While we traveled through Skopje the thoughts of these women were on my mind and I saw the dramatic change of culture on a 3 hour drive that just about blew my mind. I couldn’t help but think of the poetic verses that King Solomon wrote,

“There is an appointed time for everything. And there is a time for every event under heaven – A time to give birth and a time to die; A time to plant and a time to uproot what is planted. A time to kill and a time to heal; A time to tear down and a time to build up; A time to weep and a time to laugh; A time to mourn and a time to dance..” - Ecclesiastes 3:1-4 (I encourage you to read the rest of it)

We are half way through our term here in Greece. We would love to come back here in the future, but more than that we would love to do whatever God calls us to next. We love people of many cultures, we long for foreign soil, but God has taught us to deeply enjoy time with family and friends in the states. To you it may sound as if my heart is simply torn because of emotions these places hold in our lives, quite like the Macedonia conflict: as if maybe we just want some kind of stability (social or historical) to finally call somewhere our own place. But I know (because God is showing me) that it is simply a season. And this means that, whether we get to come back or not, we have to experience another goodbye time before we go to what has been prepared for us next. Kolby and I have never returned to a country we’ve been to, and it hurts deeply to think that Greece could be the same. But we trust in our God that He knows what He is doing and He has a wonderful plan carved out for us two.

“The conclusion, when all has been heard, is; fear God and keep His commandments, because this applies to every person.” – Ecclesiastes 12:13

Knowing God and obeying His word is what every person will be accountable for, no matter what season of life they have passed through or are now passing through. I really believe He gave us actual seasons of the year to help us understand more deeply the seasons of our lives. So until He moves us we will enjoy the season we are in and praise Him for it!