Wednesday, December 31, 2014

14 Stretches and Blessings for 2014 [subscribe]

While we were in India, we would do a daily debrief with teams called "stretch & bless," where you would go around the dinner table and share one thing that stretched and bless you that day. Somedays your list of stretches would be so prevalent that the only bless you could think of was nap time. Other days you would be so overwhelmed with blessings that nothing seemed to stretch you that day. I can say without a doubt Caleb and I were stretched and blessed this last year, but through every stretch and blessing we have been able to see the goodness of our God and how He loves us. 

14 "Stretches and blessings" of 2014

  1. Stretch: The conflicting feelings of at times feeling lonely, but feeling sad to leave the family and community you've grown to love. 
  2. Bless: Living in community here in the Bay area and being so blessed by our church!
  3. Stretch: Fighting feelings of inadequacy as a wife, woman of God, and servant of the Lord.
  4. Bless: Feeling the freedom that comes with God's grace and strength to fight the lies of the enemy.
  5. Stretch: Being confronted with so many unresolved sin issues in dealing with conflict and communication in our marriage.
  6. Bless: Constantly being reminded of the covenant we made before God that sustains us to push through that conflict and work towards glorifying God in our marriage. 
  7. Stretch: Letting go of so many plans and control and following the Lord to India.
  8. Bless: Following the Lord to India to serve with Rahab's Rope and being blessed by the people who He grew our hearts for. 
  9. Stretch: Being pushed out of our comfort zones day in and day out for 11 weeks. Feeling unqualified in teaching and leading positions and knowing we had no idea what we were doing.
  10. Bless: That it is the Lord doing the work and is leading us through the things we know we cannot handle on our own merit!
  11. Stretch: Getting lice 4 times in India and after....praying that I don't get it again...
  12. Bless: Getting hugs and cuddles from the kids in the slums. As much as I hated lice, I could not think of not loving on those kids. 
  13. Stretch: Playing the waiting game. From applying to Rahab's Rope and waiting for a reply and then waiting to get all our funds in and now waiting to see where the Lord leads us next, it leaves one with constant butterflies and anxious feelings...
  14. Bless: After the waiting, came all the blessings of this last year. Experiencing new places with my husband (Bellingham, Canada, the Alaskan highway, Pennsylvania, New York City, India); ministering to the beautiful people of India; being used to the max for the Lord and His kingdom; leading a group of girls to Christ and discipling boys to be the next leaders in the Indian church. So many blessings. I know soon into 2015 those anxious feelings will fade into excitement for what the Lord will bring us next. I can't wait to see what He does this next year.

Blessings from the Sharps into this new year!

Sunday, December 28, 2014

India with Rahab's Rope [VIDEO]



Caleb and I have been home for a little over a month. Can't believe it was only last month that we were here...it feels like ages ago. India feels not only like another world, but a dream. It hasn't been so difficult adjusting back to America this time around, but it's been hard waiting for what's next. Even with all the down time, it has felt overwhelming to look back at the 11 weeks we had in India, but I want to share. I don't want to forget our time in India, and I want to proclaim God's faithfulness. His leading. The work He has done in India. We are so thankful for this time. And so thankful for the support and prayers from you all. So here's a video of our time in India to show a little bit of the work allowed us to do. I am still wanting to share stories and photos and proclaim God's goodness.


And if you're wondering what's next for us, so are we...one thing we were reminded in India was that no matter how much you plan, God will take control, so that's where we're kind of at right now. If you could pray for us, we are waiting on the Lord to show us just what's next and how it will look. At this point, I wish I could jump back on that plane and go back to India, but another thing I was reminded was when God takes control, He works far greater than I could have ever planned for.





Happy New Year from The Sharps

Sunday, November 16, 2014

A Week of Lasts

A little red and yellow boat sways back and forth in the sea.
The waves roll over the shore with two bobbing heads.
Crows caw overhead with the bread man riding past, honking his horn.
So much of the sights, the sounds, the tastes of Indian have become home the last 10 weeks.
And I sit, taking it all in. Grasping onto each last moment as they zoom past me like an Indian bus down a winding road.
I have anticipated this week as it is a week of last. Last time in my home away from home. Last time grasping onto sweet little loving hands. Last time sitting and laughing with the women in the stitching center. Last time running around with the school children and trying not to pull out my hair. Last time sitting and crying and praying with the beach ladies that I love so dearly. Last time holding my husband's arm across crazy Indian traffic. Last time watching and listening to these waves crash against the shore. A week of lasts.

And as much as I not ready to go home, I am ready. I am ready to meet the last moments and go home. And I am glad there is sadness! Because that means that my heart has been stolen once again. It means that the Lord has been working and growing my love for these people and this place. It means that I have been filled with the compassion and love of the Lord. And in these last moments, I pray that I would be overflowing with that love and grace of the Lord and would pour myself empty onto these people.

Be praying for us during our last moments.

Blessings from the Sharps

Friday, October 31, 2014

Lacking

I've been bad. I'll admit.

I've gotten lazy. Tired. And distracted.

Blogposts and updates haven't been coming, which I apologize for. We have been on holiday for the last 2 weeks, and it's been far too long since I've shared with you all what is happening here in India. It has been over 3 weeks since I've shared and so much has happened. Though it is still holiday time in India, we see so much and fight against tiredness or sickness or discouragement, and when the time comes to want to share, I can't think of the words. I have been journaling the last 8 weeks that we've been here though, and I have been reminded of all that has been done so far--sharing the Gospel with different groups of people, being encouraged in unexpected ways, being stretched in unwanted, but welcomed ways, and leading people that we dearly love to Christ. We only have 3 weeks left, and I want to finish our time well. We have had to fight against being weary in doing good, but the Lord has been giving us strength and the words to say, each and every time. I feel the Lord pulling me to really share Christ with these people that we minister to every week. I know that in the last few weeks we have left, He will continue to be working through us, and soon enough, I will share some of these stories with you all that have been praying for us and supporting us. 



Here's a little of what has happened the last 3 weeks, where I hope to share some of these memories in detail soon: 
October 7th - 9th - We attended a Youth Conference in the state of Karnataka with our Rahab's Rope staff. It was a bit difficult for us spiritually and we had to work through a lot of discouragements to get the focus back on Christ. In the end, I was reminded that the Lord hears and Christ will be glorified!
October 10th-15th - We hosted our first team almost entirely composed of people a generation older than us! So it was challenging, but rewarding. Regardless of the challenges, the Lord's will was done and we were able to witness and be a part of the Lord's blessing to the people we minister to everyday. 
October 18th-20th - Caleb and I celebrated our 2 year anniversary in India! We had a little "staycation" retreat at a resort nearby (with a/c and a pool!!). On the day of our anniversary, we shared lessons we've learned from 2 years of marriage and cake with a group of women from the slums. 
October 24th - In a small cramped room in the slum, we led a group of girls through the Gospel message and they accepted Jesus into their hearts. Tears well up in my eyes still as I think about it. 
October 30th until now - We have been visiting a YWAM kid's camp where some of our kids from our programs are attending. Some of our girls from the class that accepted Christ last week are in the camp and already we have seen a change in them and their faith. 

More to come soon...Please keep praying!


Monday, October 6, 2014

I am Not Here To Be Comfortable

Honesty time.

India is uncomfortable.

It's hot. It's humid. You have no personal space. Very little people speak your language. So you are often jumping around playing charades and just trying to get the right amount of change. Or even the right amount of snacks. Do you know how many times we have come home with like 20 deep fried chilies when Caleb has attempted to ask for 4? Apparently however many fingers you hold up mean that's how many rupees worth you want times 10. 40 rupees worth of deep fried chillies? Really???

Don't get me wrong. I love India. For most people that come here, it is very much a love-hate relationship with all the craziness that it holds. Because as crazy as it is, it is always an adventure. Getting on the morning bus and buying deep fried chillies is always an adventure. So I am not at all complaining. But this has been our life for the last month. 1 month. All this crazy is just..normal now. Which just BLOWS my mind. But with normality, those feelings of being uncomfortable often creep in and you just start missing the joys of America...

Sleeping in a nice cushy bed.  Donuts. $5 pizzas. Fast food. Homemade chocolate chip cookies. Dare I say ---GROUND BEEF. Back home, we gloried in the days we could save enough money every week to buy Costco chicken. And now here we are. The chicken capital of the world.

And so, often in the midst of ministry, I just want to hop back on a plane to my cushy bed, eating donuts and pizza with ground beef all over it and indulge in shows like Once Upon a Time and Law and Order: SVU. Not because I desperately miss those things (even though I do), but because I want to be comfortable. And let's face it. I am not comfortable. I am unsure of myself. I often am tripping over my own words. I am figuring out the different dynamics of the groups of people we are ministering to, trying to find topics and activities that are engaging. And I find myself failing miserably. Or so I feel like I am.

There are 5 different life skills classes that I lead here in India. What is a life skills class you ask? Well, it's a class where you teach skills for life....?? I didn't really know when coming here either and then after looking at our schedule, I came to find I basically taught at least one class a day for 45 minutes at a time. To say the least, I felt unprepared, unqualified, and uncomfortable.Who was I to be able to teach about life? I am still trying to figure life out!

And so how did I cope with these feelings of inadequacy and uncertainty??? Well, I cried of course. I tried to take control and I couldn't, so I would cry and become discouraged and just question my whole reason of being here and just felt like going home, where it's comfortable. Where I could cry and have my pizza too. (I don't think that's a saying, but I just made it one.)

But God. He is so gracious to me. And so gracious to give me a husband that just keeps pointing me back to Christ. And through Caleb, God spoke to me. He said,
"You are not here to be comfortable."
The reason I am here is to share Christ. He is what I know. He is what I am sure of. He is the one in control and the one who brings comfort to my soul. And here, I am bound to be uncomfortable because the Lord is stretching me. He is using me. And He is the one that is equipping me to do the work I cannot do on my own. That is where I find comfort. It is not I who does this work, but Him who called me and whose Spirit lives in me.

So I have been doing something that is very much against my nature.
I have been letting go.
I haven't been over planning. I haven't been obsessing and staying up into late hours of the night, stressing and crying and trying to maintain some form of control or comfort. I have just been going into my days, trusting that the words God has given me is enough. Because He is. He is enough. And the Lord has given me a wonderful thing --peace. More honesty time. I am 5 weeks into this ministry and I still don't know what I'm doing. I still am all jumbled with my words. I still feel uncertain. But I have peace that the Lord's will is being done and that He is using us to fulfill that will.

So though I miss these comforts of home, I have been scared, and felt incompetent, I have not wished my days away because I am uncomfortable here. We have already been here for one month. Exactly. And before we know it, we will be home (we only have 6 weeks left, which is crazy). Until then, we will endure the heat and pizza-less days coupled with the days we feel inadequate and discouraged and take in everyday of discomfort we have left here to share Christ with these beautiful people.



Bringing the comforts of America to us every once in a while doesn't hurt either.  


Blessings from the Sharps





Saturday, September 27, 2014

Light in the Darkness

We have been in India for almost 3 weeks now, but it seems like we have been here for months. There is so much to tell. So much we are taking in. So many people we are getting to know and getting to re-know.

There is the woman on the beach who is so full of joy in the Lord. We go to encourage her with the Word of God that she desperately wants to here, but come out more encouraged by her faith and hope in the Lord despite the hardships she faces. She is known as Hope. How I've missed her laugh and smile.

There are the children in the slums who have grown a little taller and a little chubbier, but still have the same hearts that are full of life and child-like faith. As they have grown, they have been a little more self-conscious/shy, as all junior high/high school aged students are, but they have also grown in the understanding of the Gospel that we pray they come to full faith in. And the talking and laughter they do, never ends.

There are the leaders who do so much for their communities. They invest in these people day in and day out without much rest and without much resources. But despite the things they lack, they live out how they have everything they need. And we are always amazed by how God uses what little they have to plant seeds into the hearts of the people here.

It seems this trip is all about building relationships. I feel like my last trip to Goa was only a taste of India and all the complexities that it holds. Though I knew the darkness is here in India, and so many people are trapped in it, I see it more now as we are spending more time with so many different people. It seems we cannot escape it.

There are children being abused and their family and community just turn a blind eye. Women being beaten by their husbands. Boys who walk miles and miles to leave pooja for their gods hoping God hears them so their father will get a job. Women who think the only worth or ability they have is to pick up trash or offer their bodies for their gods. People doing empty rituals over and over again. Girls who are told they can't by themselves or their families. So many lost yet hear the truth of Jesus everyday.

Sometimes the darkness seems too much bear. It so often makes me feel just...heavy. What good are we really doing here when there is so much darkness? But then I am reminded...
 "I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life." 
"In Him was life, and the life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it."
"I have come into the world as light, so that whoever believes in me may not remain in darkness." 
"Because of the tender mercy of our God...the sunrise shall visit us from high to give light to those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the way of peace."
Jesus is the light, the hope that we have. There is a reason all these are being revealed to us. For the Lord is exposing them with His light. The light He has given us. He says to us, "You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill that cannot be hidden...let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to God."

And thankfully, the Lord has already saved so many that were once trapped in darkness. That these lights will continue to shine onto these people in hope that they will no longer need to remain in that darkness.

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How to pray:

  • For the people who are in darkness and following the empty rituals of Hinduism
  • For the believers and staff here who need encouragement
  • For the people we minister to that have just started hearing the Gospel or have been hearing it since being in all our programs
  • For us --that we would be encouraged and gain our strength from the Lord to do this work. I have been struggling with feeling inadequate in the work I am doing and Caleb has been struggling with finding his place in the ministry here. We have also been very tired and it makes it hard to be present when we are out in ministry. 
Blessings from the Sharps




Monday, September 15, 2014

Religious Curry

"In the Garden of Eden," said the man sitting opposite me, "good and evil are united in the form of a fruit...Since that time, we see the division. Good, separated from evil, is written on every man's heart. You, my friend, must listen to your heart to know what is good. And when you do this, you will know God because God is good." I was astounded by the diversity in this man's world views. Trying to help untangle this fishing-line of truths and lies, we debated for almost 2 hours.

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His soup of theology contained an unwavering belief that he was saved through Jesus Christ, but also through his childhood devotion to the Catholic saints, heavily salted with New-Age belief that you decide what is right for yourself, and peppered with Hinduism claiming that doing good is the essence of knowing God.
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"You see a man stealing." He continued, "I say that is wrong; YOU say that is wrong. We are agreed. You look at it from one side; I look from the other side. We both are correct..."Stories like this one seem to come up everywhere. A land steeped in Hindu thought has little resentment for the name of Jesus. Accepting the gospel is not a stretch; removing all previous religious orientation is. As well, knowing that being a sold-out believer is considering to be the most embarrassing of religions.

Still I am deeply encouraged by the faith of those who have none by Jesus. There are three of us on the field, and the work we are doing stretches and blesses us every day. The heart cries of Believers praying for their neighbors living in demonic darkness and the laughs of school children torn away from troubled lives for a few short hours a day; it makes our hearts melt.

It is the end of the first week. Lack of sleep and a head cold are testing two of us. God is faithful. We have had many first experinces and I'm sure they will not end soon. Biggest culture shock for me was lack of personal space. Every other experience has been fascinating.

Will we ever see the fruit of these Gospel conversations or witness the life changing power of our bible stories on young children and unbelieving teachers? Maybe not till the end of time. India has already pushed our prayers into high gear.

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