I learned in school that it is good to write an outline before taking on the essay, or story.  For many years I ignored this step, often writing my outline after the story had been written so that I had something to hand in for homework.  I found it easier to jump right into the story and let the characters I created dictate the story.  The more I wrote, the more I wanted to see what was going to happen, as if I was no longer in control.  But this was not the assignment.

I was supposed to create an outline.

I was supposed to have a plan.

There is a joy I find in creating stories on the spot.  I weave in details from the life of the person listening, and change directions when I sense their mind drifting.  I love seeing a little boy’s eyes light up when I tell him that the boy in this story just so happens to share the same colour hair and funny freckle on his chin.  And I love telling bedtime stories where I strategically have the character in the story let out a big YAWN, helping the one I am putting to bed fall asleep. However, while it is fun for me to create stories without a plan, I have learned the value of an outline in the last few years.  I have even learned to see an outline as a beautiful thing, like latticework, which both supports and enhances.

Here in Romania, I am seeing the evidence of a plan that far exceeds my own. God led me here in a wonderful way, teaching me about trust and obedience and boldness.  I did not plan to leave my home in Toronto this year and come to Romania to serve as a missionary to the Gypsy children, but God was pressing it on my heart all along.  The preparation began long ago, while I was still unaware of this opportunity.  And the journey does not end here.

This is a chapter.  These are pages of a much grander story that I have so graciously been invited to be a part of.

I am seeing more and more clues of this as I live out my time here.  The more obvious ones were the home skills that I felt a need to develop over a year ago. I began to practice cooking at home, feeling that it was a year of practical skills preparation.  Now, being here in Romania and having to cook for myself regularly, I am so thankful that I obeyed God in that simple step of preparation.

My previous work with children, at church, in the community, and in schools, has also become a huge resource for me.  Last year I was volunteering in a grade two class, helping children who were behind in math and english.  I thought that I was there as part of my journey towards teacher’s college, but as I sit across from children here who are many years behind in their education I am reminded that God has a plan.  He has prepared me for this.

My time in Thailand last summer visiting my amazingly creative, determined, talented and wonderful older brother was a trip that served many purposes. Not only did I get to see my brother and spend time getting to know him in his new home, I was able to explore a new part of the world, interact with amazing people, and become awoken to new visions and desires that God placed in my heart during those quiet moments of rest.  Rest is so important. While I was clearly able to see how God used that time to help my brother and I grow our relationship, and also speak to me about some things for my own life, I did not realize until a few days ago that part of it was preparation for here.  Stray dogs line the streets of Bangkok.  I got used to them being around, even though I used to be terrified of dogs. Now here in Bucharest, I am again surrounded by these canine creatures.  It’s nothing major, but I see again that God prepared me, giving me one less thing to accommodate to and helping me to settle into my new home here in Romania.

These are just some examples of how God has prepared me.  There are so many other intricate details that are so personal and near to my heart and my passion to serve God in a creative way.  I believe that these other layers will become revealed in due time, exposing more of God’s provision and care and all encompassing love.

I love how God brings His word to life.  The Bible can often seem so overwhelming.  So many words.  So many pages.  But when I approach it with a heart of hunger, a desire to see God and be near to Him, and an attitude of expectation and waiting, I am always amazed.  Sometimes it is a few words that stand out to me on the page, sometimes an entire chapter or book.  But God never fails, and never disappoints.  It’s when I am impatient, too busy to spend that time with Him that I find it so difficult to grasp the meaning of His word.  It’s as though I’m sitting down at Starbucks with a friend, eager to tell me his secrets and passions and love for me, while I am consumed with the errands I have waiting, the way I reacted to something earlier that day, and the constant growling of my stomach.  I leave the conversation wondering why I am not fulfilled.  Why my friend said so many words that made no sense to me.  When I sit down to chat with God, my best friend and lover of my soul, I need to do my part to be present with Him.  It’s amazing because He so desires to have that time with us, to answer our call and “tell us great and unsearchable things” (Jeremiah 33:3).  And when our minds are distracted and consumed with worries, fears, and day to day things, He is there to take our burden (Psalm 55:22 “Cast your cares on the Lord and He will sustain you”).

Romans 8:28 is a verse that God continually brings to life for me.  It came alive to me almost two years ago, pouring heaps of hope into my life.  God said to me through His word that He “causes all things to work together for good for those who love God…”.  When we are living for God, every detail, every layer, every moment of our lives is being worked together with the details and layers of others in order to create something good in God’s sight.  How awesome is that!!

This is why I can continue to make up stories on the spot.  To invent tales without plans, and sometimes forget the outline.  It is because I am resting on a plan, a firm foundation, that far exceeds any plan I could create.  It’s a letting go of my plans, and a falling into His. I am living out a life that is not my own…a life that has been given to me.  I find such freedom in this, like a child jumping from the top stair into her father’s arms. While it may seem at first that living a life for God restrains us and keeps us from what we want, it is quite the opposite.  “I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full!” John 10:10.  Jesus spoke those words and reminded us of the great plans God has for us!

I am overjoyed and excited to be alive!  Of course there are days that are dark, and I cry and feel sad and wonder why this or that has not happened yet, but then there is God.  There is hope.  There is the reminder of His love for me that pushes me beyond my expectations and lifts me up so I can stand again in the confidence of His promises.

Perhaps you are wondering why you are where you are.  Maybe you have had things happen to you, or things you are waiting on to happen, and it doesn’t make sense.  Or maybe you are ashamed of things you’ve done, or said, and you’ve bought into the lie that you don’t deserve something good.  I know that when I’ve felt these things that are so wrapped up in being human, I have often taken the approach of making a plan.  Trying to get things together.  Or sometimes, it’s the “Que Sera Sera” approach, where there are no worries because “whatever will be will be”.  But neither of these brings satisfaction.  It is only when I root myself in God that I am given peace and purpose and joy in life.  That is when God quietly whispers to me, “I know the plans I have for you, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you a hope and a future” (Jeremiah 29:11).

I found this song through a friend, and I couldn’t believe how perfect it was.

As the song says, there is an “elegance in dissonance ”

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