Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Smile

So one compliment I have gotten time and time again here in the Dominican Republic is that I smile a lot and that I like to laugh.  It's true. Anyone who knows me and knows me well, knows that I like to laugh. I like for people to make me smile and I like to make others smile.  Some may think, "dang this girl laughs and smiles at everything", which is totally not true.  But here is how I look it. Why not smile? There are so many things to smile about. I wake up every morning and the fact that I am able to breathe another breath of fresh air makes me smile from ear to ear.  I am living in another country which is a tremendous blessing, so why not smile?  I am protected by the blood of the Lamb, so why not smile? I have a peace that only God can give me and if that is not reason to smile then I don't know what is. These are just a few. This morning I woke up late, didn't eat any breakfast, it was pouring rain and Tuesdays are the longest day of my week.  I could have easily complained and moped around. But I didn't.  There was not one time throughout my day that I did not laugh or smile.  It is said that a smile can brighten up someone's day, so I can only hope that someone's gloomy day was somewhat brightened by my smile. Sounds cheesy but hey. I want people to realize that even though things might not be going well or they are having a bad day, there are so many other positive things they can focus on.  Sometimes I'm guilty of focusing on the negative but today I choose to smile. Maybe you should too :)   

"Today, give a stranger one of your smiles.  It might be the only sunshine he sees all day."

Saturday, January 28, 2012

New Beginnings

So with every new year, comes new beginnings. New chances to do bigger and greater things than the year before. A new year to face new fears and to achieve new aspirations.  I have been blessed to start off my year in another country. In a place somewhat out of my comfort zone. Many people have told me that they are proud, excited, even a little jealous (lol) that I am studying abroad in the Dominican Republic for four months. At times it seems unreal.  I remember when I first started the process to come here and remember saying that it was such a long way off. However, when the time started drawing closer, anxiety began to arise. Subtle feelings of fear began to overtake my heart. Even though my outward expressions were not showing signs of worry, inside felt like an intense game of tug of war.  I asked myself over and over again, "Is this something you really want to do? Leave your family? Live in another country?" You would think that I would be used to living out of my comfort zone.  I go to school in a state 9 hours away from my family and only get to see them once in a blue moon.  But living in another country was another story.  I have never done it.  People telling me left and right "Be careful; Guard your bag because there are a lot of thiefs out there,etc"  did not make the decision any easier.

As time for me to depart approached closer, i started to have more and more concerns. I just couldn't grasp the fact that I was about to embark on a new journey.  Many conversations with my roomies and other classmates made me feel ok about going. Online pre-departure orientation made me even more excited. However, the day before I had to leave, all that excitement seemed to subside just a little bit. Two weekends before my departure, we had a powerful youth concert at church and God moved in such a mighty way and I totally surrendered myself, ministry, everything to God. I poured my heart out.  So one thing I know is that anytime I have such a blessed and anointed time at a church event, the devil starts to mess with me.  Well, after this concert, he started putting fear in my heart. Telling me that I couldn't possibly be leaving everything i know to live in a country i knew nothing about besides the food and a little of the language.  I started feeling like maybe i couldn't do this. Maybe I made a mistake by choosing to go to DR. The night before I had to leave, I couldn't sleep.  My stomach hurt so badly and I felt nauseated.  I knew it was anxiety because the same thing happened to me before I had to leave for my first year of college. I did not understand how this could be.  I was so excited to go but within me I started to feel like maybe I couldn't do it.  After hours of not being able to sleep, I called my mom who told me to ask my dad to pray for me and then she had her friend call me who gave me many scriptures to hide in my heart and remember for times like these. The one I held onto and repeat to myself everyday since I've been here is 1 Timothy 1:17 "For God did not give ME the spirit of fear but a spirit of power, of love and of a sound mind"...
Fear is something that can cripple a person from pursuing dreams and visions.  Fear can make you think that you are not equipped to handle new beginnings and change. But what I failed to realize, is that I serve a God bigger than fear.  Fear is not even in His vocabulary and He has equipped me with all I need to survive and thrive in any environment i live in. Fear, not even an option.  So here I am almost a few days shy of a month, living and learning in Santiago. Experiencing things that I never knew I could. Forming new friendships with great people from all over the states and from the country.  Fear said I couldn't but God said I could.  He blessed me with an amazing host family, comfy house to live in, and is helping me to expand my Spanish vocabulary and understanding.  Because I did not let fear deter me from following my destiny, I am here today in beautiful, sunny DR enjoying all of God's beautiful creations.  Couldn't ask for a better way to start of my new year.  Here's to new beginnings.........